The Prime Minister's Office has announced byelections in Bourassa (Quebec), Provencher (Manitoba), Brandon-Souris (Manitoba) and Toronto Centre (Ontario) for Nov. 25.
"With Conservative-appointed Senators [Mike] Duffy, [Pamela] Wallin and [Patrick] Brazeau now on suspension from the Senate, a Canada-Europe trade agreement (CETA) initialed, and all four government party candidates in place, the Prime Minister may not have a better time to pull the plug than now," Alice Funke — who provides excellent analysis on all things election related — wrote on her Pundits' Guide website.
Here's a breakdown of each of the ridings:
1. Bourassa (Quebec):
- Incumbent: Denis Coderre (LPC)
- Results from last election: LPC: 40.9 per cent; NDP: 32.3 per cent; BQ: 16.1 per cent; CPC: 8.8 per cent
The two front runners in the battle for Bourassa are former Liberal MNA Emmanuel Dubourg and the NDP Stéphane Moraille.
The Montreal Gazette's Don Macpherson says that in the past, Bourassa would have been considered a safe Liberal riding, but that things have changed.
"[The NDP is] looking to repeat its exploit of 2007 in a by-election in another Montreal Liberal stronghold, Outremont, when Thomas Mulcair, now the party’s leader, became only the second New Democrat elected in Quebec," Macpherson recently wrote.
"Dubourg might be vulnerable if it appears that his candidacy is motivated by self-interest rather than a sincere desire to serve the voters of Bourassa.
"He resigned from the Assembly less than a year after being re-elected when the Bourassa seat opened up — and with it, an opportunity for a $60,000 pay increase as a member of Parliament."
2. Provencher (Manitoba):
- Incumbent: Vic Toews (CPC)
- Results from last election: CPC: 70.6 per cent; NDP: 17.9 per cent; LPC: 6.7 per cent
Most agree that it's a good bet that Provencher will stay Conservative blue.
"The riding is a rural one, with its biggest city boasting fewer than 15,000 inhabitants. And it is a strongly Conservative riding," Eric Grenier of threehundredeight.com writes.
"Toews has held it since 2000 and has always won it with a majority of the vote (topping 70 per cent in 2011). In 1993 and 1997 the riding was represented by a Liberal, but in both cases the combined votes for the PCs and Reform were more than the Liberal total. Prior to that, it was held by a Tory since the 1970s.
"So Provencher will remain in the Conservative fold, and there is no reason to consider that the NDP or Liberals are any threat whatsoever."
3. Brandon-Souris (Manitoba):
- Incumbent: Merv Tweed (CPC)
- Results from last election: CPC: 63.7 per cent; NDP: 25.2 per cent; GPC: 5.7 per cent; LPC: 5.4 per cent
Brandon-Souris has been a Conservative stronghold for decades but the Winnipeg Free Press' Deveryn Ross suggests the Conservatives could be "losing their grip" on it.
The problems for the Conservatives began with the surprise resignation of MP Merv Tweed in August, who jumped ship to become president of Omnitrax Canada.
The fact Tweed helped regulate that company through his former role as House of Commons transport committee chairman ignited conflict-of-interest allegations from the opposition. Those concerns have been amplified by Tweed's intention to have Omnitrax ship oil by rail to the Port of Churchill.
Manitoba MLA Larry Maguire was acclaimed as the nominee after Brandon's deputy mayor, Len Isleifson, and the perceived front-runner, Chris Kennedy, were disqualified for failing to comply with Conservative party rules. Isleifson and Kennedy each deny they breached those rules, igniting a still-festering controversy that has incensed many local Conservatives.
The Liberal candidate is Rolf Dinsdale, son of former federal Conservative cabinet minister Walter Dinsdale; the NDP candidate is Cory Szczepanski, the President of the Brandon Labour Council.
4. Toronto Centre (Ontario):
- Incumbent: Bob Rae (LPC)
- Results from last election: LPC: 41.0 per cent; NDP: 30.2 per cent; CPC: 22.6 per cent
The Canadian Press, calls the battle for Toronto Centre — as well as the vote in Bourassa — "an epic battle for opposition supremacy between the Liberals and the NDP."
While "epic" might be too strong of a word, both parties have nominated high profile women. The Grits' candidate is Chrystia Freeland, formerly an editor with the Globe and Mail and most recently a Consumer editor with Thomson Reuters based out of the United States.
The NDP candidate is Linda McQuaig, a journalist and author who, in the past, has supported high marginal tax rates of 60 per cent for high income earners.
A Forum Research poll from June — before the candidates were solidified — pegged the Liberal support in Toronto Centre at 49 per cent, compared to the NDP at 25 per cent.
According Pundits' Guide, Forum will release its latest poll numbers, for all the byelection ridings, on Monday.
(Photo from Twitter)
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