, 12.12.2017 09:52 AM

About those by-elections

The Newfoundland-Labrador one, no big surprise.  (But the NDP result? Ouch.)

The Ontario one, also no surprise. (But congrats to Ms. Yip – Arnold is smiling, today.)

The Saskatchewan one, no surprise.  (The slide in LPC vote, not so great, true.)

But the B.C. by-election? That was big, folks.  That was huge.  The Liberals – for the second time this Fall – have flipped a seat from blue to red.  (Congrats to Mr. Hogg, who I have had the pleasure to meet a few times, back in my B.C. Liberal days.)

It sure would be fun to be a fly on the wall at that federal Conservative caucus meeting, tomorrow morning, wouldn’t it?  Few will say it out loud, but I know they are thinking it:

Andrew Scheer was the wrong pick.  He is more than a dud – he’s a disaster.

And, if anyone is going to guarantee Justin Trudeau a second big majority win, it’s him.  (Oh, and followed closely by Jagmeet Singh, who has entered into a witness protection program.)

A good year, politically, for Liberals.  Not so much for the other guys.


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    billg says:

    I cant believe the good people of British Columbia were not swayed by Mr. Scheer’s charisma and charm and his message of balanced budgets, tighter fiscal restraints and bringing more Blah to Ottawa.
    Had my Ottawa Valley Dinner Jacket (plaid shirt) all ironed and ready for the onslaught of Scheer-Mania.

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    Matt says:

    22% voter turnout in NFLD.

    27% voter turnout in Ont and Sask.

    37% (last I saw last night) in BC.

    Look, no doubt you don’t want to be losing seats in by elections, but abismal turnout in by elections that have zero affect on the balance of power in parliament, I don’t put too much stock in.

    I keep coming back to all the by elections Wynne lost after the 2012 Ontario general election. IIRC she lost 5 seats. Got them back and more in the 2014 general to go from minority to majority.

    But I will say – If the CPC were hoping to rely on Singh to steal votes from the Liberals just based on him being a young, stylish, GQ magazine appearing clone for Trudeau fangirls and fanboys to jump back to the NDP for, that plan may need a rethink. Personally, I believe Sing’s lack of presence in the HOC is killing him and his party.

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    Charlie says:

    I concur 100%.

    The bye-elections, particularly the BC one, are hugely consequential and demonstrate a few important things:

    1) It was a mistake for Conservatives to choose Andrew Scheer as the leader and it is showing at the ballots.

    2) Nobody gives a shit about the Morneau “controversy” outside of the Ottawa bubble.

    3) The CPC strategy is not working; ergo, the failure of their concocted Morneau scandal.

    4) Trudeau’s personal favorability is still insanely resilient, especially so in key battleground regions.

    5) Dippers need to work on carrying their leadership race momentum into the public political discussion. Its hard enough maintaining relevance without a seat in Ottawa, so they need to work twice as hard at making Jagmeet front and centre of any progressive discussion if they want to make anything out of his recent success.

    6) Holy shit, is Andrew Scheer the wrong guy for the job. Seems those plaid-dad commercials didn’t help any bit.

    7) Despite everything that has been dogging the Liberals, the prevailing narrative is that Liberals are still winning where it matters most. Its expected to see some receding support between general elections, but Liberals aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.

    8) Which leads me to my final point: cynicism and skepticism aren’t keeping the Trudeau Liberals down. The observing class of Ottawa may have their own pessimistic insights, but its clear voters don’t share those where it matters most.

    My points shouldn’t be taken as a victory lap by a fawning Liberal, but a wholly necessary dose of reality. To be recruiting stellar candidates and flipping seats from the opposition at a time when the punditry has declared the honeymoon phase as over is a huge repudiation.

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      Obvious Sock-puppet #12 says:

      Charlie wrote: “[…] The CPC strategy is not working […]”

      Charlie, exactly what is this “CPC strategy” of which you speak?

      [Full disclosure: I have previously posted in this forum under the commenter name, “A link that might be relevant here”.]

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    BlueGritr says:

    Andrew Scheer: low energy. The same was said about Jeb Bush. Harsh, but true.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    I have a policy of never counting out a prospective leader. If Harper could make it, etc.

    And, if memory serves, didn’t it take McGuinty a while before catching on? (Not to mention your other boss.)

    Scheer isn’t out yet, but he seems to be almost on life support. Maybe yes, maybe no.

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      BlueGritr says:

      Through 12 rounds, Scheer trailed Bernier at the CPC leadership convention this past May. And then, in the 13th and final round of voting, Scheer squeaked past Bernier to narrowly win. And oh, 8,000 ballots weren’t counted. I wonder how many CPC voting participants wonder about the 8,000 ballots that weren’t counted? Would that have tipped the scales in favour of Bernier? You can bet Bernier supporters haven’t forgotten.

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        Ronald O'Dowd says:


        And to pretzel that train of logic, die-hard Harper supporters will undoubtedly never forget it either, re: the Minister of State.

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    The Doctor says:

    The Surrey result was the candidate(s), period. Kudos to the Liberals for landing an excellent candidate with huge local rep and name recognition. On the other hand, Kerry-Lynne Findlay? She’s almost like a generic candidate for hire in Greater Vancouver. This is the third bloody federal riding she’s run in. IMO the Tories made a lousy choice in nominating her. People talk about her having “profile”, but the fact is that she earned that “profile” being an MP in another riding. That was after she lost running in Point Grey. This was a winnable riding for the Tories, and as often happens, they shot themselves in the foot at the nomination stage. But the Liberals also had a formidable star. Local stuff matters.

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      BlueGritr says:

      Liberals know how to win in key battleground centres. Conservatives don’t.

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        Warren says:

        Um, I don’t recall that happening so much for us from, say, 2005 to 2015, Mr. Blue Grit guy.

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          BlueGritr says:

          Fortress Toronto held in ’06, ’08 and ’11. Look it up.

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            Warren says:


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            Matt says:

            I’m sure the Liberal brain trust were thrilled “fortress Toronto” held when the dropped to third party status and 34 seats after the 2011 election results were in.

            And talking about Liberals knowing how to win in “battle ground” ridings, using “fortress Toronto” as an example doesn’t exactly support your statement.

            Besides, several long held red ridings in Toronto went blue in 2011, like mine that had been red since 1993.

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            Pedant says:

            You have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s laughable really.

            Here. Educate yourself. http://electionprediction.org/2009_fed/p_35on.php

            Lots of blue “Electeds” in fortress Toronto in 2011.

            And since when is the 416 a real battleground anyway?

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          Ronald O'Dowd says:


          Excellent memory!

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    Miles Lunn says:

    It should be noted though of the 12 by-elections held since 2015 and 6 since Scheer became leader the Tories went up in 9 of the 12 (Only South Surrey-White Rock, Lac Saint Jean, and Ottawa-Vanier did they decline) and Liberals went down in 9 of the 12 (Only Medicine Hat-Cardston-Taber-Warner, and the two they picked up did they go up) so in that sense not a total disaster for the Tories although the NDP has declined in 11 of the 12 only rising in Ottawa-Vanier.

    However the Tories face two big problems.

    1. They are up overall, but in all the wrong places (i.e. bigger margins in strongholds or gaining in weak areas but not enough to win) while the Liberals are down overall but up in the areas that matter. In Canada it is seats not votes that matter and Liberals doing well on the former Tories on the latter.

    2. NDP is doing horrible and without a strong NDP to split the votes, the Tories cannot win. They only won 1 of the 4 by-elections, but got over 40% in the 3 of the 4 which is enough to win when there are strong splits, but not when there are weak splits. The Tories either need the NDP to do better to have a chance, or perhaps move closer to the centre to pull away some centrist votes as the Liberals seem to have the left side of the spectrum largely locked up and the Tories the right side of the spectrum, but the centre at the moment is favouring the Liberals.

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      The Doctor says:

      Particularly problematic for the Tories is Quebec. Barring a miracle of some sort, 2019 is a gimme for the Liberals. If you’re a clinically sane and not-stupid Tory, you would use that result to get rid of Scheer and get somebody competitive and electable.

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        Miles Lunn says:

        Most Canadians probably couldn’t pick Scheer out of line-up so the reality is he neither helps nor hurts them at the moment. Off course that will change when people get to know him, but not at the moment. The problem is with the election only 22 months away, not a lot of time for another race and would probably due to the sometimes divisive nature just make things worse for the Tories. Scheer may not be the right person to take them to power, but he should at least hold onto what they have whereas choosing a new leader might put them further behind, especially if it is someone further right wing. If the party loses in 2019 or at least doesn’t make big gains he is out as leader.

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          Warren says:

          That sounds about right

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          The Doctor says:

          Just to be clear, I wasn’t actually advocating getting rid of Scheer now, even though I consider him to be a terrible choice for leader. When I said “use that result to get rid of Scheer”, I was referring to the result of the 2019 federal election, which I fully expect him to lose decisively.

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    Miles Lunn says:

    As a side note I tried using a simulator for each region on how the swings would play out and I got the following.

    In Atlantic Canada, applying a uniform swing would result in 24 seats for the Liberals, 7 seats for the Tories, and 1 seat for the NDP, so not a Liberal sweep again, but despite a 12 point swing from the Liberals to Tories it still results in the Liberals dominating this region.

    In Ontario there was only a 2.5% swing from the Liberals to Tories so this would result in 68 seats for the Liberals (down 12 from the current 80), 45 seats for the Tories (up 12 from the current 33) and 8 seats for the NDP (no change). With the Tory weakness east of the Ottawa River they are going to need to do a lot better in Ontario than this to win nationally. Of the cabinet ministers, only democratic reform minister Karina Gould would lose her seat and just barely and her seat of Burlington has gone Tory far more times than Liberal post WWII. Likewise in the 905 belt, the Tories would take the periphery suburbs (Newmarket-Aurora, Burlington, and Whitby) but the main suburbs they need to win like in Mississauga, Brampton, and Ajax would stay Liberal so a positive swing for the Tories and negative for the Liberals in Ontario, but I don’t think the Liberals are too worried about losing a few marginal seats in Ontario, especially not if they gain in BC and Quebec.

    Saskatchewan/Manitoba would result in 23 seats for the Tories, 4 Liberals, and 1 NDP so an 8 seat gain for the Tories and a big win there although with the rural/urban divide growing the big question for the Tories is would the gains in Battlefords-Lloydminster also happen in the urban ridings where they need to gain, or would it only be in the rural ones which they already have and are going to win no matter what.

    British Columbia would result in 27 seats for the Liberals which is a record in absolute numbers and proportion wise best since 1968 when they won 19 out of 23 seats. NDP down to 8 seats from 14 and Tories down to 6 seats from 10 in 2015 so definitely in British Columbia and Quebec the Liberals are gaining and as Eric Grenier pointed out those are the only two provinces they are performing better than in 2015 nonetheless those are two good provinces to be gaining in.

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    Doug Brown says:

    Trudeau was going to win in 2019 no matter what which is why so many leadership hopefuls stayed out of the race. It will take at least eight years for the electorate to wake up to the failures of don’t worry be happy politics: saying yes to almost everybody may be popular, but also expensive. I suspect it will take another 90s style debt crisis to change the status quo.

    If interest rates rise faster than expected or the brain drain to the US accelerates, the cry for change may happen sooner, but unlikely prior to 2019. So it’s back to the 80s with competitive tax rates, crippling debt, inflamed regional tensions and a bloated public service that can road block austerity measures.

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    Matt says:

    Even Mr. Hogg who won in BC is cautioning people not to read too much into his victory in Monday’s by-election.

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