The results of yesterday’s federal by-elections show Conservatives gained one seat and they held onto one they already had—for a net gain of one. The Grits lost one seat (a big one in 905 Ontario), and won one—for a net gain of zero. While the New Democrats lost one—the only one of the three parties to experience a net loss on the day.
“Today Vaughan families elected a man with real-life experience, with family values, with a lifetime of hard work and strong commitment to community.”
– Julian Fantino
Star Conservative candidate, former Toronto Police Chief and Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police Julian Fantino won a close victory in Vaughan, the city above Toronto. Although the loss in Vaughan really hurt the Grits who have held that seat for 22 years, they gained a replacement seat in Manitoba by wining the riding of Winnipeg North, which was formerly held by the NDP.
Not surprisingly, the Conservatives held onto their riding of Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette in Manitoba.
They’ll be lots of political spin today with the Dippers spinning away what must have been a heart-breaking loss to the Liberals in Winnipeg North, a riding the NDP had held for 13 years. And, of course, Michael Ignatieff’s crew will be out there in media-land explaining how the Vaughan riding was a long-shot for them and how they’re not surprised they lost it. Don’t let the spin doctors fool you, readers, these losses were stunning body-blows to both progressive parties.
The fortunes of Jack Layton and his New Democrats are waning, and, given the performance of his front-bench MPs, that’s not at all surprising. In 2008, the Liberals ran a distant third in Winnipeg North with only nine per cent of the vote, while New Democrat Judy Wasylycia-Leis won easily with an impressive 62 per cent. The Dippers just got less relevant and, if they’re not careful, they will join Elizabeth May and her Green Party on the scrapheap of political history.
As to the Grits, the loss of Vaughan must be causing quite some nervousness among Liberal MPs in the surrounding area who won their seats by a narrow margin in 2008. Names like Ken Dryden, Joe Volpe, Ruby Dhalla, Paul Szabo, Andrew Kania, Rob Oliphant and Mark Holland come to mind. I bet they aren’t seeing any sort of silver lining with the ineffectual Michael Ignatieff leading their party.
Liberal contender for the Vaughan seat, Tony Genco, lost by only about three percentage points. But this was less about a strong Liberal showing and more about a backlash against Tory candidate Julian Fantino, who is held with suspicion by many conservative voters over his peekaboo-style campaign and conduct as OPP commissioner vis-à-vis the native occupation at Caledonia, Ontario.
Conservatives carried the day: with the Vaughan victory, Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a giant step closer to his goal of penetrating the Liberal’s Toronto fortress. The Conservatives have gained all important momentum as they prepare for a national election, perhaps after the next budget in the late winter or early spring.
Congratulations to the three winning candidates.