Let us now obsess over relatively minor events - Macleans.ca

Let us now obsess over relatively minor events

A look at the ins and outs of tonight’s by-elections


Monday night will see the election of four new MPs to fill the vacancies left by Bill Casey, Dawn Black, Real Menard and Paul Crete. The results of these four races will no doubt be incredibly important and meaningful. At least for about 24 hours or so, after which everyone will move on to some other shiny object.

Wikipedia has past results for Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit ValleyHochelagaMontmagny—L’Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup and New Westminster—Coquitlam. Pundits’ Guide has that plus plenty of other stuff.

By-election results on Monday night will be available through Elections Canada beginning at 10pm EST.

Various other points of note.

-There were nine by-elections during the last Parliament. Six saw the incumbent party re-elected, three saw a switch (a Bloc riding went Conservative, a Liberal riding went Conservative and a Liberal riding went NDP).

-Of the three ridings that switched, two had seen close races in the previous general election. The only truly shocking result might’ve been Thomas Mulcair’s victory in Outremont. Mind you, Mulcair was hardly an unknown before that vote, having served as a provincial cabinet minister.

-The respective Bloc vote share in the two Quebec ridings has declined in each of the two elections.

-The Conservative vote share in Montmagny has steadily increased in each of the last two elections.

-New Westminster is perhaps interesting for three reasons. First, it’s been close in each of the last three general elections. Second, the Conservative candidate is perhaps most notable for having been hidden from view. Third, Canadians have sent 4,184 men and women to the House of Commons and not one of them went by the name “Fin.” (The people of Nova Scotia did thrice send Finlay MacDonald to represent them.)

-Cumberland voters rallied around Bill Casey after he was ejected from the Conservative caucus, but save for a four year stretch in the mid-90s the riding has been strictly Conservative since its creation in 1968.

-The best the Liberal party did in any of the four ridings last fall was the 20.7% its candidate won in Hochelaga. Liberal candidates finished third in Montmagny and New Westminister, and fourth in Cumberland.


Let us now obsess over relatively minor events

  1. At least for about 24 hours or so, after which everyone will move on to some other shiny object.

    YM slimey object, shurely.

  2. And yet, the talking heads will be out in full force this week.

  3. I thought you were talking about the other Finlay MacDonald.

  4. The Conservatives will be 9 seats away from a majority at this time tomorrow night.

    • So close and yet so far.

      • It's funny — the government's position has been the same since Emerson crossed the floor in February 2006: one opposition party's support was needed to pass any given piece of legislation.

        Whether there are 125 Tories or 145 (after tonight?), the underlying reality has been the same.

        • I agree.

          You had me confused by your comment about Emerson, but I see what you mean. Once Emerson crossed, that enabled the Cons to table legislation with the NDP. I did not realize that. Emerson was a good MP as well.

          I suppose a dreamer could wish for 9 byelection gains for the Cons, but since that is nearly impossible, I agree with you. Of course, on free votes like the gun registry vote, the number of Conservative MPs does make a difference, since a Conservastive is more likely to vote according to the Conservative platform.

          • Yes, that's exactly it. When the Tories only had 124, the NDP wasn't enough.

            Emerson was (is!) a talented guy who went into politics to do a job, to be a cabinet minister and a sensible CEO-type in government. He didn't care too much about whom he had to work for.

            The gun registry vote surprised me greatly — I thought this was an issue that was going to kick around until and unless Harper ever got a majority. Still, the committees may yet kill the bill…

    • Do you think they'll win three, or are you counting Andre Arthur in your tally?

      • I think they'll take three. The Bloc willl have trouble getting the troops excited about a federal by-election in the lower St. Lawrence riding which has to have the longest name of any riding in Canada. The Conservatives have been riding high in British Columbia of late and have held that New Westminister seat as rececently as 2004. Casey's Nova Scotia seat is prime Conservative turf.

        • I think West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country is the riding with the longest name.

          • Definitely the one in Quebec wins. Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

          • I count 41 letters in the BC riding and only 38 in the Quebec riding.

        • A bold prediction! We shall see.

        • Three is very optimistic. I'd say two, the Bloc will win the Quebec seat, IMO.

  5. BTW, thanks for the post Aaron.

    By-elections are a political junkie's delight.

  6. I don't often cheer for the federal NDP but, go Fin go!

  7. It's quite simple.

    If the results are positive for Conservatives, it obviously means nothing; if negative, it's a stunning repudiation of thuggish pork-barreling and fiscal incompetence, etc. (Any actual local issues, of course, are irrelevant.)

    • Yeah, no doubt you are correct.

  8. Chantal Hébert says on her blog this morning at l'Actualité that the 4 ridings in play today are as diverse sociologically as they are geographically. She mentions that the Liberals aren't in the game in any of them.

    She goes on, imagine a Canada without the Liberal Party. It's already a reality in large areas of Quebec and the rest of Canada she tells her Quebec readers.

    • That's easy to do.I don't find the liberals relevant.I see another two have left the party, because of Davey being fired

      .Rats and ships. Rats and ships.

    • The Libs are in danger of coming in 4th in New West behind even the Greens. That's what eastern folks don't realize is how the Libs are becoming increasingly irrelevant out here. They come in 4th already in much of rural BC including Fraser Valley ridings but that's creeping into the burbs as well (look at the trends for New West – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Westminster%E2%8

      Think about the implications if the Libs get pushed out of Van completely. They'll have essentially nothing out West and they then start to fall down as reasonable federalist option in Quebec. Vicious circle.

  9. The pundits are already saying that it'll be a foregone conclusion that the Liberals will be left in the dust in all of the ridings up for grabs today.

    What strategy have the Liberals deployed to resurrect from the dead? Today's Hill-Times article mentions this:

    "Additionally, Chrétien-era campaign strategist Warren Kinsella has recently joined the team."

    Warren Kinsella to the rescue. Spin doctors and attack dogs. Yeah, that's the ticket!

  10. On a curious side note – Dawn Black won the seat for the NDP in an election in which the NDP achieved their best ever seat result, and arrived in Ottawa with the so-called "balance of power" in a minority Parliament. She quit a few months later. What was she expecting when she ran? What outcome would have kept her in Parliament? Given that the BC election was on a fixed calendar anyway, was it her intention from day one to jump ship?

    • Dawn Black was elected in 2006 and then was re-elected in 2008. She was planning on serving a full term but the incumbent provincial NDP member for New Westminster suddenly announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer and would not run again. The provincial NDP begged Dawn Black to consider running provincially – and i suppose that she felt that under the circumstances it would mean no longer having to fly back and forth from Vancouver to Ottawa every week – so she did it. There may be fixed election dates in BC, but when a stalwart provincial member is unexpefctadely struck down by illness – that is unpredictable.

      • That's as good an answer as any. Thanks.

    • She was expecting to be named to the cabinet of an NDP provincial government. Just like Bill Blaikie.

      There's a lot of that going around though. Paul Crete resigned to run provincially for the PQ (he lost) while Real Menard is the new mayor of the borough of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve.

  11. Aaron,

    Liberal blogs have mentioned the real action is conducted in committee meetings, as a way to assuage their fears of Tories ramming legislation through the House (ie: It doesn't matter if Liberals abstain, because bills will die in committee where opposition parties have a majority).

    If the Tories gain a seat today, will it tip the balance on committees?

    I ask because percentage-wise, the Tories might have enough MPs to allow one more Tory MP on committee meetings, and one less opposition MP if they win just one by-election today. But that's ONLY IF you round up the percentage number. The Tories would therefore have a majority at committees, versus their current minority. Is there any truth to that?

  12. Unsurprised on the invisible candidate over in New Westminster. There was a site (admittedly funded by the Liberals, I think) that kept track of what candidates avoided debates or all-candidate meetings in the last general election.

    It seems to be pretty much SOP for the current Conservative party: don't talk to the press if you can help it, and don't show up to meetings. Which, for a tightly controlled message, makes sense but it still stinks.

  13. I bet you wouldn't think they were minor events if the Liberals stood a chance in any of the by-elections Wherry.

    But, sadly for you and your fellow Liberals, none of the ridings are in the GTA so you stand no chance of winning.

  14. Governments are supposed to lose by elections….conventional wisdom rule # 464

    Casys riding will be interesting to see if thereis residual bitterness there. Winning is important because incimbency matters at federal election time, so I wouldnt dismiss it, whatever the result is.

    In some ways the cons dont mind the NDP gaining, because it makes the Liberals hear footsteps. The more plausible the NDP the more likely there will be a split oppsiition…..of course the Cons would dearly love that Vancouver riding….they have been downplaying it, but they will be beating their chests if they win it. The Quebec riding would be a real shocker if it didnt go Bloc. if the cons win it…hmmm the Bloc will be facing a squeeze from left and right….perhaps all federalists should be hoping for a win there.

  15. Had there been a previous MP named “Dawn”? New Westminster: always cutting edge.

    Also, the Vancouver Canucks mascot is named Fin – name recoginition is everything.