Tories retain two seats but suffer big loss in voter support on byelection Monday

·Politics Reporter

The Liberals are the big winners while the Tories did better than most expected in light of the ongoing Senate expense scandal.

That's the early narrative from four federal byelections held on Monday.

Justin Trudeau's Liberals have won two out of the four seats and bettered their popular vote — in each riding — in comparison to the 2011 election.

The Tories also retained their two seats but lost support in each riding.

Bourassa (Quebec):

- Results: Emmanuel Dubourg (LPC) 48.1 per cent; Stephane Moraille (NDP) 31.6 per cent; Daniel Mailhot (BQ) 12.9 per cent

- Incumbent: Denis Coderre (LPC)

- Results from 2011 election: LPC: 40.9 per cent; NDP: 32.3 per cent; BQ: 16.1 per cent; CPC: 8.8 per cent

Toronto Centre (Ontario):

- Results: Chrystia Freeland (LPC) 49.1 per cent; Linda McQuaig (NDP) 36.2 per cent; Geoff Pollock (CPC) 9.0 per cent

- Incumbent: Bob Rae (LPC)

- Results from last election: LPC: 41.0 per cent; NDP: 30.2 per cent; CPC: 22.6 per cent

Brandon-Souris (Manitoba):

- Results: Larry Maguire (CPC) 44.1 per cent; Rolf Dinsdale (LPC) 42.7 per cent; Cory Szczepanski (NDP) 7.4 per cent

- 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

Provencher (Manitoba):

- Results: Ted Falk (CPC) 58.1 per cent; Terry Hayward (LPC) 29.9 per cent

- Incumbent: Vic Toews (CPC)

- Results from last election: CPC: 70.6 per cent; NDP: 17.9 per cent; LPC: 6.7 per cent

As expected, the Conservative Party kept their seat in Provencher. This was a 'gimme' — Provencher has been a Tory stronghold for decades. It was previously held by former Justice Minister Vic Toews who won the riding in 2011 by a margin of over 50 percentage points.

The Liberals kept their seats in Bourassa and Toronto Centre. Both campaigns were spirited affairs between the Liberals and the New Democrats who both claimed to advocate for the 'middle class.'

Trudeau, who was on-hand in Bourassa, took a shot at NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, accusing him of running a negative campaign.

"The [NDP] is no longer the hopeful, optimistic party of Jack Layton, it is the negative, divisive party of Thomas Mulcair," he said at the victory party, according to the Canadian Press.

"It is the Liberal party that proved tonight that hope is stronger than fear, that positive politics can and should win out over negative."

[ Related: Do byelections matter? ]

The biggest battleground, however, was in Brandon-Souris — another long-time Tory stronghold.

While some pollsters predicted a big victory for Liberal candidate Rolf Dinsdale, the Conservatives pulled off a somewhat surprising victory.

Brandon Souris was a riding that the Conservatives fought hard for.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the riding on Friday where he participated in an infrastructure announcement. He even penned a letter to Brandon residents chiding Trudeau for being soft on crime.

Moreover, Jenni Byrne, the PM's deputy chief of staff, was reportedly on the ground, in Brandon, directing campaign operations.

[ Related: Senate scandal preoccupies House of Commons as byelections play out ]

These byelections were seen as a litmus test for the Senate scandal impact. If that's the case, it appears that Canadians — if you look at the popular support — are souring on the Conservative party.

Right leaning political consultant Gerry Nicholls, however, says that we shouldn't read too much into these results.

"The media and partisans will undoubtedly use the results of tonight’s by-elections to help create a narrative, i.e. what it means for each party’s future and for the next election," Nicholls told Yahoo Canada News in an email exchange.

"But in reality, by-elections don’t really mean much in terms of national trends. There’s a totally different dynamic at work than in a general federal election. For one thing, other than selecting a new MP, not much is really at stake when voters in a by-election go to the polls. It won’t change the government, so voters are not really focused, nor are they necessarily considering the bigger picture.

"Typically, by-elections tell us which party has the better “ground game”, since getting out the voter is usually key in winning these elections when turnouts are low."

NDP insider Brad Lavigne reminded us all that byelections aren't necessarily a harbinger of future election results.

"The B.C. Liberal party lost every single byelection that it held since it took office in 2001 but won every single general election," he said on CBC's Power and Politics.

"People behave differently when they're electing a prime minister versus a local representative."

Still, the Tories have to be a little disappointed with numbers like these:

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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