Randy McDonald (rfmcdpei) wrote,
Randy McDonald

[BRIEF NOTE] On Canada's three by-elections yesterday

On Monday, Canada had three federal by-elections: one in Victoria (a British Columbia riding in the city of that name, going NDP with the Greens in hot pursuit, the Conservative and then Liberal candidates in behind); one in Calgary Centre (an Alberta riding in the city of that name, going Conservative with the largest share of the remaining vote split between the Liberal and Green candidates); and, one in Durham (a semi-rural riding on the eastern fringe of the Greater Toronto Area, going Conservative with the NDP candidate scoring second). In all these ridings, the Liberals did fairly poorly, suffering slight declines in voter numbers in Victoria and Durham and not capitalizing on a potential breakthrough in Calgary Centre.

Over at his blog, A BCer in Toronto, Liberal Party supporter Jeff Jedras argues that this doesn't indicate a declining Liberal Party.

We’re holding. Yes, there is much work to be done. The renewal process is barely underway and it won’t yield results overnight. Yes, the success of the Greens is impressive. The NDP showed continued strength in Ontario, which should concern Liberals.

Look at where the movement was, though. In Victoria, the Conservatives lost 10 points and the NDP 13; it all appears to have gone Green. In Calgary, a 20-point Conservative drop went Liberal, Green and NDP. And in Durham, the NDP took most of their five points from the Conservatives. In none of these three ridings did the gains come at Liberal expense.

Now, it is fair to say that, with the exception of Calgary-Centre, there were swing votes up for grabs and the Liberals failed to grab them. There is work to be done to again be the credible, go-to alternative to the status-quo. My point though stands: there's no data here to support the ridiculous dying party narrative. In three unheld ridings we held our own in two and made historic gains in the third.

And there are lessons to be drawn from each to apply going forward. In Durham, Grant Humes used the freedom of a by-election campaign to step outside the usual national party messaging and draw national attention to a major issue: the deplorable Conservative treatment of Canada’s veterans. In Victoria, Paul Summerville ran a campaign with micro-targeting at its core, which will yield lessons to inform future campaigns across the country. And in Calgary-Centre, Harvey Locke showed that there is no area of the country that Liberals can’t hope to compete with the right candidate and the right message.

Perhaps. As I said in the comments there, inspired by late-night chats with a reader here, at the very least this does indicate a certain stagnation on the part of the Liberal Party. The new strength of the Green Party particularly should be worrisome: if a political party that has had only a single MP elected ever does as well in western Canada as a political party that was traditionally one of Canada's two natural parties of government, this implies terrible weakness on the part of the second party. (The strength of the NDP, also, should not be missed.)
Tags: alberta, british columbia, canada, democracy, links, ontario, politics
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