, 12.14.2022 11:05 AM

My latest: by-elections don’t matter, except when they do

Do by-elections, which usually have notoriously low turnout, matter?

We get told general campaigns do, all the time. But what about by-elections? Should we care — and should we care that no one seems to, you know, care about them?

That legendary political muse, Dan Quayle, had the best take on it all. Said the former U.S. vice-president: “A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.”

Well, yes. Hard to quibble with that one. Good insight, Dan.

Fewer folks went to the polls in this weeks by-election in Mississauga Lakeshore — only around 30%. But, before some political scientist starts writing wordy op-eds about the need for compulsory voting, remember: by-elections are beloved by hacks and flaks, but rarely ever regular folks. And they’re the bosses.

For instance: Toronto Centre had a byelection in October 2020. More than 80,000 people were entitled to vote. Slightly over 16,000 did. York Centre had a byelection in the same month, with about the same result: more than 70,000 were eligible to cast a ballot. Only 11,000 bothered. Democracy survived.

So, before academia gets its tenured knickers in a knot, remember: by-elections don’t ever attract as much attention ruin as general elections do. That’s normal. And it’s unlikely to change.

Mississauga-Lakeshore therefore had the standard byelection turnout, but a notable result. The result tells us a few things, participation rate notwithstanding. Here they are.

One, the Conservative Party got clobbered. The Liberal candidate — a former Kathleen Wynne government minister, and therefore not without blemish — basically massacred his Tory opponent, by thousands of votes. He took 51% to the Conservative’s 37%.

That’s notable, as noted, because that’s a worse showing than what the much-derided Erin O’Toole got when he was running things. In that race, O’Toole’s chosen candidate did better than Pierre Poilievre’s.

Wasn’t Poilievre supposed to sweep the ‘burbs and all that? Wasn’t he supposed to be the thing that cured all that ailed Team Tory?

Well, Pierre has represented an Ottawa suburb for years, winning in seven elections. But he didn’t in Mississauga-Lakeshore. How come?

His spinners, all coincidentally anonymous, insist it was because the aforementioned riding is all-Liberal, all the time.

Well, no. That’s false. Sure, Liberal Svend Spengemann represented the riding in the Trudeau era — but before that, Mississauga-Lakeshore was federal Conservative territory for a number of years.

And, oh yes, this: provincially, the riding is still Conservative territory. Just a few months ago, in June, a provincial Conservative candidate won there — by many thousands of votes. And four years before that, same result: the Tories won it, by a lot.

So, that’s all you need to know about the excuse that Mississauga-Lakeshore is a Liberal fortress and Conservatives will never win there: it’s an excuse. It’s bollocks, in fact.

What about Team Poilievre’s other excuse — duly reprinted, without attribution in the pages of the Toronto Star, because it serves both their interests — that it’s all Doug Ford’s fault? You know, that the Ontario Premier sank his federal cousins in the by-election because he’s unpopular? Guilt by association and all that.

Except, that one doesn’t wash either. When he’s been running things, in good times and bad, Ford has taken that riding handily. Twice.

Did Ford’s misadventure with the notwithstanding clause, and the general strike it would have caused, hurt Poilievre’s chances?

Again, no. Ford ultimately never used the notwithstanding clause to win a fight with an education union — and there was no general strike, either. And, besides: both those things were controversies many weeks before the by-election even got underway.

So, what was it? Who is to blame for the first real-world test of Pierre Poilievre’s leadership since he became leader?

Well, that would be what Poilievre and his caucus see in the bathroom mirror every morning: themselves. The convoy crap, the crypto-currency craziness, the whackadoodle WEF weirdos. All of that, and more, has persuaded many Canadians that, under Pierre Poilievre, the Conservative Party of Canada has abandoned the political center. And is, you know, chasing the People’s Party vote.

Which, by the by, got 286 votes in Mississauga-Lakeshore.

About which, our muse Dan Quayle might say: “Not winning enough of the popular vote? It means you are not popular.”

23 Comments


  1. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Warren,

    We’ve seen incumbent governments lose a long string of byelections and get defeated. We’ve also seen incumbent governments lose every single byelection and get re-elected. So, who the hell really knows if this is the beginning of a trend.

    P.S. Is it next to Michael’s old riding?


  2. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Douglas W says:

    Libs wanted to win this one, real bad.

    Trotted out the boss, and some cabinet big guns like Anand.

    From all indications, the Conservative did not put their heart into this one.

    Playing possum? Perhaps.

    Libs and Conservatives both know … the real contest takes place in the Spring.

    Why use up all your bullets, now.


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Douglas,

      How many bullets does it take to win a by-election? For a genuinely competitive party, one would suppose not that many.


      • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
        Douglas W says:

        GTA is a different beast.

        Tone matters; not arguments or policy.

        Poilievre and the Conservatives appear oblivious to this.

        Which is why the Libs are poised to take 51 0f the 53 seats, again.


  3. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Ronald O'Dowd says:

    From The Canadian Press:

    The poll conducted by Leger over the weekend says 33 per cent of respondents would vote for the Conservatives and 30 per cent would vote for the Liberals if a federal election was underway.

    It’s the fourth consecutive monthly poll in which the Conservative party has maintained a lead — and the fourth since Pierre Poilievre became its leader.


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Shawn Mullin says:

      They had a similar lead under O’Toole at similar times


      • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
        Ronald O'Dowd says:

        Shawn,

        Yes, it was a three to four-week lead when the campaign started but then doofus O’Toole blew us right out of the water on vaccines, trucker convoys and assault-style weapons. You know what they say about history: it doesn’t repeat but it often rhymes especially in my party, the CPC.


        • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
          Douglas W says:

          Ronald,

          Agreed.

          But I would add that the difference, this time around, is that the Libs are looking worried and frantic. No longer do I see confidence.

          Secondly, the Conservatives remain calm, and appear to have an end game. Their internal polling must be telling them something.

          Winter is never a good time for a party in power.


        • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
          Robert White says:

          I watched O’Toole’s campaign very carefully and he didn’t screw anything up whatsoever. O’Toole was fine as leader and worked the middle perfectly.

          His stupid goddamned party members are the problem, Ronald. I even wrote to him and told him that when he stepped down.

          The Conservative Party Canada is a crap shoot of unorganized disgruntled complainers.

          That’s why I’m NDP now.

          RW


          • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
            Ronald O'Dowd says:

            Robert,

            Well, in this instance we can agree to disagree on O’Toole. In my book, his election performance was ultimately disqualifying and that’s why I did all I could to persuade members and especially MPs to give him the heave-ho. In the end, historians will have the final word. I will concede that I can’t predict what the plurality of historians is likely to conclude.


          • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
            Gilbert says:

            I disagree. The problem with Mr. O’Toole is that he pretended to be a social conservative to become leader, but then showed he was insincere by becoming liberal. On issues such as the carbon tax and guns, he quickly changed his positions when criticized. He revealed himself to be a person who lacked principles and who was willing to do or say anything to get elected. Many Conservatives didn’t vote because they didn’t consider him to be a true conservative, and many voters in the centre chose the Liberals because they believed it was better to vote for a true Liberal than one who was just pretending to be one.


          • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
            Ronald O'Dowd says:

            Gilbert,

            I know what a social conservative is but please tell me how your define a so-called true conservative? Winning the next election is all about being a conservative but with the right amount of gradation that holds the conservative-centre. Is that actually acceptable to most of the membership? If the answer is No, then we’re already done as dinner next time.


  4. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Peter Seville says:

    The Cons chose their second most obnoxious weasel, after Michael Barrett, to lead their party. Brilliant as always..


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Peter,

      I wouldn’t say that. A lot of politicos and their supporters throw grenades at Poilièvre based on prior conduct that was exhibited decades ago. But they don’t do that to leaders of other parties. They get an automatic pass no matter what conduct they exhibited previously. I’m on the record about PP’s conduct then and now. But what I do find is that PP is remarkably effective at not only getting under this PM’s skin but also at mercilessly pounding this government as regards its proven record of incompetence and mismanagement. To watch him in QP is to admire that type of bulldozing leadership based solely on facts and economic reality. I believe PP can win but ultimately like O’Toole, policy will tell the tale and determine whether we form a government. This is the bone I have to pick with him and his advisors in the OLO. Nothing more but nothing more important either.


      • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
        Martin Dixon says:

        He gets grenades thrown at him because, well, he is conservative and the MSM feel he is fair game just based on that. JC himself would not be immune.


  5. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Ronald O'Dowd says:

    In short, policy needs to be something like this:

    1. Truckers: support their right to protest legally without causing mischief or worse during said protests. Twin that with declarations that any person who violates the law should be, at minimum, fined or if necessary criminally prosecuted;

    2. Vaccines: urge people to follow the prescribed inoculation regimen and recommend mask-wearing in public. For the unvaccinated, restrict their conduct during a demonstrable wave so that they cannot spread the virus in a public area;

    3. Assault-Style Weapons: establish a clear and definitive list of the weapons that must be either banned or restricted. Also, list weapons that are clearly for hunting purposes only and keep those weapons legal. This second list should be determined in concert with stakeholders: industry, hunting and fishing groups, First Nations and other concerned individuals.


  6. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Robert White says:

    Policy Science teaches us to form government via a majority mandate. Liberals know how to maintain their grip on the center of politics via transit, social science, culture, & medicine. Cons focus on economics, but fail to understand Keynesian Macroeconomics and debt-to-GDP. Cons will never be able to fulfill their mandate to reduce government expenditure via increasing deficits.
    And the debt would go down for the foreseeable future.

    Conservatives have no solid plan to capture the center of voter concerns in the largest metropolitan cities like GTA or Vancouver.

    Angry white guy politics is not GTA politics. Conservatives have no business being politicians throughout the GTA.

    RW


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Robert…as a Marxist, you know better than most that Keynesian economic theory is an inevitable recipe for economic disaster and ruin. In this instance, we’re talking QE post 2008.

      As an Austrian, I will never support those who continue to push the Keynesian agenda. That means the Liberals.

      And yes, the debt is being temporarily inflated away but what happens when inflation is ultimately brought under control someday? Debts and deficits are also an economy-killer and Trudeau must bear sole responsibility for his government’s actions and that of the Bank of Canada, since they now share a mandate.


      • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
        Gilbert says:

        Ronald, For me a conservative is one who believes in controlling spending, limiting the size of government, expanding the private sector and having a strong military. I don’t think the Liberals have been strong in those areas.


        • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
          Ronald O'Dowd says:

          Gilbert,

          Thanks. I don’t see any issues in there that a plurality of Canadians might be strenuously opposed to. I would personally be for increased health transfers to the provinces and territories, with them charged with making mandatory reforms to existing systems in each jurisdiction and doing as much as we can for the environment, especially over our own skies. It’s a quality of life thing, at minimum.


      • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
        Robert White says:

        Fifty years since Nixon closed the gold window and made us all Keynesians in one fell swoop. It’s a disaster as you know and the only way out is via Sound Money. And we can’t have Sound Money because all G7 & G20 are in debt up to their collective eyebrows and beyond.

        The central banks can’t get back to 2% inflation and municipalities are opting for property tax increases to
        offset the social costs via lowered revenue from transit due to Covid and work from home policies.

        I really don’t think we can ever get out from under a half century of Keynesian Macro mindsets for outsized inflation. Ottawa is holding inflation at 2.5%, but area councillors are complaining that they have no budget anymore and can’t provide for their individual riding needs for road repairs.

        And if you could see Ottawa’s roads you’d realize they make Montreal’s roads look great in comparison.

        Municipal tax rates are going to have to double from where they are currently just to fix the inflation that Macklam facilitated at Freeland’s request.

        The era of ‘balanced books’ is out the window. Canada will be running deficits for as far as the eye can see IMHO. I do think that Ford is making progress, but Trudeau isn’t. Poilievre can’t get elected on the prospect of Sound Money because that’s not governments operate since Nixon destroyed Sound Money principles.

        P.S. I was looking at the GMC half tonne EV and the projected price is now $108k plus tax.

        Fuel is far too costly for consumers and EV technology is far too expensive to be pragmatic or practical. Inflation will merely exacerbate the conundrum until everything crashes outright IMHO.

        Cross your fingers, eh.

        RW


        • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
          Martin Dixon says:

          And guess who will come out of it just fine. Not anyone who is not in the top 1%. Like I keep saying. The dirty little secret. JT is a puppet of those who will come out of it just fine. And he keeps buying the masses’ votes with ever worthless money and their futures and they keep lapping it up.


          • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
            Robert White says:

            I didn’t realize what a sucker I was for falling for Trudeau’s rhetoric until I started reading The WAR Room. Then Warren started shouting form the rooftops about Trudeau’s facade vis-a-vis Feminism and the blackface news surfaced to make me realize that even I could be fooled by skilled Drama teachers.

            I’m now wise enough to realize I had better stand in Jagmeet Singh’s corner instead. At least I don’t feel as though I am misplacing my integrity as an NDP adherent. I actually fell for Trudeau’s fake Marxist rhetoric and didn’t realize it until it became obvious whilst reading this website.

            Participatory democracy is not perfect, but it’s all we have so we have to protect it from people like Trump as opposed to Trudeau.

            RW

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