Canadian provincial by-elections 2009
September is a busy month here in Canada for electoral politics, both at the provincial and federal levels. I’ll wait until the end of the week to see what is in store for us at the federal level, with the possibility of a snap federal election around the corner. However, there are a total of five provincial by-elections being held in September, in four different provinces. There has been no national media coverage of any of these elections, obviously, not even one here in Ontario. However, that doesn’t make them any less interesting.
Calgary-Glenmore (Alberta) votes tomorrow, September 14, to replace outgoing Progressive Conservative MLA Ron Stevens. Calgary-Glenmore is an affluent safe Conservative seat in southwest Calgary, which is represented federally by Stephen Harper. In 2008, Ron Stevens won 50.67% of the vote against Avalon Roberts, the Liberal candidate, who won 33.17%. The Wildrose Alliance, a right-wing provincial party (to the right of the PCs) won 8.07%. The Greens won 4.33% and the NDP won 3.76%. Avalon Roberts, renominated as the Liberal candidate, will face Alderman Diane Colley-Urquhart of the PC. Two party leaders are also candidates, Paul Hinman for the Wildrose Alliance and Len Skowronski for SoCred. There is a NDP candidate, but no Green candidate. Most analysts doubt that this seat will change hands, but the PC could be in for a cold shower due to rising discontent with the provincial government’s handling of the economic crisis. In addition, Paul Hinman, a businessman, is a good candidate for the Wildrose Alliance, which hopes to drop its rural redneck image for a more cosmopolitan profile. A good showing by Hinman on the back of PC voters could make this race an interesting race to watch, for once that Albertan elections are interesting.
St. Paul’s (Ontario) votes on September 17. St. Paul’s is a relatively white (by local standards) and affluent constituency in the northern area of downtown Toronto. While it used to be Conservative provincially except for the period between 1987 and 1995 (Liberal until 1990, NDP until 1995), the Liberals won it in 1999 and have held it with nice margins since. The Liberals win the heavily Italian areas to the west, but also the east of the riding, which is home to relatively affluent young professionals. The Conservative polls are mostly in the centre of the riding, in the uber-rich area of Forest Hills. If the Conservatives appealed to young professionals, they could definitely win this seat again. In 2007, the Liberal won 47.5% against 26.6% for the PC, while the NDP and Greens won 15.7% and 8.3% respectively. The Liberal candidate is a former federal Liberal candidate in Haldimand-Norfolk and a former CEO of War Child Canada. Sue-Ann Levy, a Jewish lesbian but strongly conservative, is the PC candidate. The NDP and Greens are also running candidates, in addition to a host of independents and joke party candidates, including John Turmel running for the 70th time (and his 69th actual election). The Liberals will win it handily.
Rousseau (Quebec) votes on September 21. The riding of Rousseau is a largely rural riding on the north shore (of the St. Lawrence), with some parts in the Laurentides region and others in Lanaudière. The riding is strongly nationalist, voting with over 60% of the vote for independence in 1995, but, like most of the region, quite conservative. The incumbent MNA was the Pequiste (nationalist) François Legault, a Air Transat executive-turned-cabinet-minister who became known for his dislike of being in the opposition (despite being, imo, a fine representative) and his soft nationalism. After sweating a bit in 2007, when most of the surrounding ridings went from PQ cyan to ADQ navy blue, he was handily re-elected in 2008 with 56.77% against 22.33% for the Liberal candidate. The conservative ADQ won 16.41%, Quebec solidaire (QS, a nationalist and democratic socialist party) won 2.44% and the Greens 2.05%. The PQ candidate is Nicolas Marceau, an economist. The Liberals, ADQ and QS are running their 2008 candidates, while the Greens are running their leader, Guy Rainville. The ADQ seems to have put a bit of effort into the riding, though with the party declining ever so slowly into irrelevance, they’ll probably have a cold shower. The PQ should have little trouble winning this seat, despite a Liberal lead provincially.
Regina Douglas Park and Saskatoon Riversdale (Saskatchewan) also vote on September 21. Both seats were held by the opposition NDP, Saskatoon Riversdale being the seat of former NDP Premier Lorne Calvert. While Regina Douglas Park is a mid-income slightly artsy place, Saskatoon Riversdale covers a mostly low-income area of Saskatoon. In both seats, the NDP blew the conservative Saskatchewan Party and the irrelevant Liberals and Greenies out of the water in 2007 – and broke 60% in Saskatoon Riversdale. Despite SaskParty Premier Brad Wall’s popularity, the NDP should face little trouble in either by-election and will likely see its new leader, Dwain Lingenfelter win Regina Douglas Park in a landslide.