Category Archives: Ontario

Ontario by-elections 2010

There were two provincial by-elections in Ontario on March 4, both of them in Eastern Ontario. In Ottawa West-Nepean, MPP Jim Watson (Liberal) retired to run in the fall municipal elections in Ottawa; while in Leeds-Grenville, long time PC MPP Bob Runciman was appointed by Harper to the Senate. Ottawa West-Nepean’s by-election was by far the most watched of the two, the riding being one which the Conservatives will need to win in 2011 if they’re to return to power.

Ottawa West-Nepean is located in the western part of Ottawa, including the inner suburbs of the city, such as parts of Nepean. Like most of Ottawa’s west-side, the riding is largely Anglophone (63%) and generally well-off, though it has a significant visible minority population (around 25%) and describing it as a ‘wealthy white suburban riding’ would be quite off the mark. It’s a upper middle-class area, along the lines of Etobicoke in Toronto. The riding, which has a large population of federal government employees, has been a swing riding. John Baird has represented the riding federally since 2006, having previously served as MPP in Queen’s Park since 1995. Provincially, former popular Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has held the seat since 2003, winning re-election in 2007 by an exceptionally large margin, undoubtedly because of his local popularity. The PCs held the seat between 1999 and 2003, but Bob Chiarelli held the seat in the Mike Harris landslide of 1995, due more to personal and local factors than anything else (arguably, it would have gone PC were it not for these factors). With PC leader Tim Hudak counting to win the 2011 election on the same coalition which carried Harris in 1995 and 1999, this is certainly one of the ridings which the PC would need to win in 2011: a middle-class suburban seat.

The Liberals nominated another former Mayor of Ottawa, Bob Chiarelli (defeated in 2006), Chiarelli having previously represented the area until 1995. The PC candidate was Beth Graham, the NDP candidate was Pam Fitzgerald and the Green candidate was Mark Mackenzie. John Turmel contested his 73rd election here.

Bob Chiarelli (Liberal) 43.46% (-7.16%)
Beth Graham (PC) 38.99% (+7.26%)
Pam Fitzgerald (NDP) 8.43% (-1.26%)
Mark Mackenzie (Green) 8.31% (+2.03%)
John Turmel (Ind) 0.81%

The reactions to this results have been a bit all over the place, with the Liberals claiming that it’s a very strong result for them in a swing riding which is blue federally; but PCs have said that their little-known candidate’s good result is a sign of a swing back to them. Some Tories also referred to this as a ‘traditionally Liberal riding’, which is obviously intellectually dishonest. The 4-point margin is about the margin I was expecting, after the retirement of a popular incumbent with probably a large personal vote. But the truth remains that the PCs will need to actually win ridings like Ottawa West if they’re to win in 2011. Doing relatively well in them and losing by a 4-point margin won’t be enough.

I mentioned in my previous post, available here that the nomination race for the PCs in Leeds-Grenville was interesting, featuring a race between Steve Clark (former mayor of Brockville), the candidate supported by the establishment; and Shawn Carmichael of the radical Ontario Landowners Association (OLA), a group of feisty rough rural rightists. I mentioned the possibility of the OLA candidate running as an independent, but in the end Clark won and Carmichael didn’t run as an independent. Leeds-Grenville, located in rural eastern Ontario on the shores of the St. Lawrence, is a very rural (and all the things that come with it, Protestant and English) conservative area. Its previous long-time MPP, Bob Runciman, had won re-election in 2007 with 56% of the vote, after facing a surprisingly tough race in 2003. However, it is interesting to note that federally this riding went Liberal in 1988, the free-trade election won by Mulroney’s Tories. The Liberal sacrificial lamb was Stephen Mazurek, the NDP’s was Steve Armstrong and the Green candidate was Neil Kudrinko. The Libertarian Party ran in this seat with Anthony Giles.

Scott Clark (PC) 66.60% (+10.36%)
Stephen Mazurek (Liberal) 20.05% (-8.62%)
Neil Kudrinko (Green) 7.70% (+0.51%)
Steve Armstrong (NDP) 5.18% (-1.79%)
Anthony Giles (Libertarian) 0.46%

    Unsurprising large PC win, but I’m somewhat surprised by such a good result for the PCs, which even beats the 58.4% amassed by federal Conservative MP Gord Brown in his 2008 landslide victory.

    Toronto Centre (Ontario) provincial by-election 2010

    There was a provincial by-election for Ontario Legislature in the riding of Toronto Centre last night held after the resignation of incumbent MPP George Smitherman (Liberal) to run for Mayor of Toronto in the Ontarian municipal elections scheduled for the fall.

    Toronto Centre covers part of the downtown core of Toronto and is a diverse riding in terms of income and ethncity, including both the exclusive affluent area of Rosedale in the northern part of the riding but also some of Toronto’s oldest poor neighborhoods such as Regent Park and St. Jamestown. It also includes more wealthy but liberal areas such as part of the University of Toronto or the city’s gay neighborhood, Church and Wellesley. The riding has been held since its creation in 1999 by the Ontario Liberals, and the federal riding is held by Bob Rae of the Liberal Party.

    The Liberal candidate was former Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray, the NDP candidate was Cathy Crowe, nurse and homelessness activist and the PC candidate was Pamela Taylor, lawyer and 2007 candidate. There was also a Green candidate and the perennial independent, John Turmel. In the 2007 provincial election, Smitherman won 47.8% against 20.4% for the PCs, 18.9% for the NDP and 9.7% for the Greenie.

    Glen Murray (OLP) 47.04% (-0.71%)
    Cathy Crowe (NDP) 33.14% (+14.28%)
    Pamela Taylor (PC) 15.38% (-5.03%)
    Stefan Premdas (Green) 3.08% (-6.58%)
    Raj Rama (Ind) 0.39%
    Heath Thomas (Libertarian) 0.38% (-1.11%)
    Wayne Simmons (Freedom) 0.34%
    John Turmel (Ind) 0.26%

    The results were rather surprising. The overall result is great for the NDP, decent for the Liberals (especially considering they’ve been struggling in polls these last months) and bad for Tim Hudak’s PCs.

    While no polling seems to have picked this up nor have any major journalists, this could indicate that urban discontent over the Liberal government’s anti-recession efforts is turning to the left – the NDP – and not to the right. The Liberal economic policies have been criticized for being too right-wing. This could also indicate that the PC replacing their old leader – John Tory – who had a more urban and liberal image with a more rural conservative like Tim Hudak has cost them votes in urban ridings where their vote comes from well-off voters. Obviously, this is only a by-election and nobody knows if these are trends or electoral flukes.

    The PCs under Tim Hudak face a tough time and Hudak’s efforts to assemble a second Mike Harris coalition is easier said than done, as he’s finding out. Hudak, a right-wing PCer, has sidelined the urban Red Tories (liberal PCers, more like John Tory) in a way which is potentially dangerous. To win in 2011, Hudak must break through in suburban ridings in the GTA and other similar ridings in the Ottawa area, where most Ontarians now live. Voters here aren’t likely to be a fan of Hudak’s brand of more rural conservatism from the Niagara area, and he needs to appeal to more centrist urbane Tories as well as multicultural voters, something which the federal Conservatives have managed to do generally well in the GTA, especially in the 2008 election.

    Hudak’s strategy faces a double-test on March 4, with two by-elections scheduled for Ottawa West-Nepean and Leeds-Greenville. Held federally by the Tories (under John Baird), but provincially by McGuinty’s Liberals, Ottawa West-Nepean is a suburban and affluent riding west of downtown Ottawa. It is an absolute must win for Hudak if he wants to prove that he’s able to win with his current strategy in 2011. And the Red Tories come in here. Despite the PC candidates in this by-election and St. Paul’s last year being Red Tories, both were attached far too closely to Hudak and Hudak’s PC sidelined their centrist credentials and forced them to take on his anti-HST blue Tory posture.

    But, at the same time, there is a by-election in Leeds-Greenville on the same day after Harper appointed the incumbent Tory MPP, Bob Runciman, a long-time MPP and Hudak’s likely finance minister, to the Senate. Leeds-Greenville is a very white (98%) – WASP (58% Protestant in 2001), very rural riding in eastern Ontario, the most conservative area of Ontario. Runciman won 56% of the vote in 2007, and the area has always been Conservative – at least in the last 20-30 years. The danger here for Hudak is a challenge from the right, and the candidate of the far-right Ontario Landowners Association in the PC nomination race scheduled for February 7. In 2007, the Landowners got their loud-mouth leader Randy Hillier the PC candidacy in Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, after threatening to run independent candidates in 2007. Tory in his time and Hudak must appease Hillier, but the nomination race in Leeds-Greenville pits the candidate supported by the establishment and the former MPP, but also Shawn Carmichael, vice-president of the Leeds and Grenville Landowners Association and a close ally of Randy Hillier. Hudak must appease the radical right enough so that the feisty Landowners don’t run a dissident candidate to the PC’s right which could open up the road to a Liberal win due to vote-splitting on the right. The Liberal Scarf blog notes that in a 1982 provincial by-election in the same area, a Libertarian running to the PC’s right won 13.4%, though the PCs still won.

    At the same time as he tries to appease the Landowners, Hudak must appeal to more urban conservative voters, who will provide his bulk of support if he’s to win in 2011. On March 4, he must win in Ottawa if he’s to prove to his skeptics that he can re-assemble Mike Harris’ coalition including suburban voters, but at the same time he must not lose Leeds-Greenville or even allow the election there to be close. If he doesn’t satisfy both of these conditions, he could come under increasing fire within his party from the Red Tories and the radicals, and his strategy of presenting himself as Mike Harris’ reincarnation might not be such a great idea.

    St. Paul’s (Ontario) by-election 2009

    St. Paul’s, a provincial (and federal, by this concerns the provincial) constituency in northern downtown Toronto (Ontario) held a by-election yesterday to replace Michael Bryant, the incumbent Liberal MPP who got into hot water in the last days or weeks after killing a cyclist (the incident was not the cause of his resignation, he resigned in June). The constituency, a rather affluent one with a strong Italian community and a large young professional population is considered a Liberal stronghold since around 1999, when Bryant won the constituency from the Progressive Conservatives. However, there was a lot of talk in recent days that the PC might give the Liberal candidate, Eric Hoskins, a sweat or even win it themselves due to a tough summer for the Ontario Liberal government and controversy over the HST, Harmonized Sales Tax (merging the federal 5% Goods and Services Tax with the 8% Retails Sales Tax). Those who predicted a PC win in this urban Toronto riding have quite an epic fail on their hands.

    Eric Hoskins (Liberal) 47.60% (+0.17%)
    Sue-Ann Levy (PC) 28.33% (+1.79%)
    Julian Heller (NDP) 16.88% (+1.14%)
    Chris Chopik (Green) 5.47% (-2.87%)
    John Kittredge (Libertarian) 0.58% (+0.05%)
    Danish Ahmed (Special Needs) 0.34%
    Marius Frederick (Independent) 0.30%
    Paul McKeever (Freedom) 0.22% (-0.04%)
    John C. Turmel (Independent) 0.19%
    Raj Rama (Independent) 0.09%
    Liberal hold (Swing: 0.98% from Liberal to PC)

    A poor showing for the PC, which seems to have hoped that there would be a large vote against the Liberal government and the HST, which they and the NDP oppose. Either these voters, assuming they exist in important numbers, didn’t turn out, which would be surprising since these kinds of anti-government voters are more likely to turn out than pro-government voters are; or or there is simply little to no negative reaction to the HST or the various scandalish issues which dampened the Liberal mood over the last days of summer. In addition, another instance of a major flop for a so-called star candidate, Sue-Ann Levy, a Jewish lesbian journalist (for the Toronto Sun) but also an ultra-conservative (which isn’t popular in Toronto). And a poor start, possibly, for the new PC leader, the conservative Tim Hudak, who’s been called by detractors the second coming of Mike Harris. Does this mean that the PC’s shift to the right hasn’t received popular approval? Possibly, but one Liberal stronghold in Toronto is not a good sample, and also, it’s a by-election (you know what that means).

    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.

    Ontario: Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock by-election 2009

    A by-election was held in the Ontarian provincial electoral district of Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock (H-KL-B for short) on Thursday. Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock was created in 1999 and slightly redistricted before the 2007 elections. It is a largely rural constituency, with very little urban areas. It stretches quite far north, bordering the Nipissing constituency. Here is a map, in PDF format.

    A bit of background as to this by-election. In the 2007 provincial election, the Progressive Conservative leader, John Tory, who then sat in the legislature for the former electoral district of Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey, ran for election in the urban Toronto seat of Don Valley West (Tory himself is from Toronto) against Liberal MPP and cabinet minister Kathleen Wynne. Due to a shit-poor/stupid campaign, the PC was trounced and Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government won a landslide majority yet again. In Don Valley West, John Tory lost to Wynne by nearly 11% and was left without a seat in the legislature. First mistake, he didn’t step down. If you have a brain and your party gets trounced almost entirely because of your stupidity, you read the writing on the wall and get out. Yet, he stayed, and he faced the task of finding a fellow PC MPP nice enough (and representing a non-marginal constituency) to step aside to let him run and win in the ensuing by-election. Normally, these types of things don’t turn into a complete farce (one PC MPP, Bill Murdoch, was expelled for criticizing Tory) and don’t take over a year. In January of this year, more than a year after the election, Tory got PC MPP Laurie Scott (Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock) to resign so that he could run. Scott had won around 50% of the vote in 2007 in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, with the Liberal candidate taking around 29.5%. So, a safe seat. Normally in these types of things, the party leader easily wins the by-election and all’s well that ends well. However, since Tory is an inherent screw up and failure, things blew up in his face again. A lot of local PCs and voters didn’t like the fact that a urbanite from Toronto (urbanites from Toronto aren’t very popular in rural Ontario, you see) came in a stole the seat from their local rural MPP. An outfit called the Reform Party (like the old federal Reform) threatened to run a candidate, saying Tory was an urbanite and liberal (Tory is a “moderate”, but that sounds like bullshit to me) but it failed to do so. The Liberals ran Rick Johnson, their 2007 candidate. The Greenie candidate was Mike Schreiner and the NDP candidate was Lyn Edwards. The perennial SoCred/Indie John Turmel ran, making this his 69th official candidacy and 68th election (and that many loses).

    There was some anger about Tory running, and the Liberals exploited that anti-urban/anti-Toronto sentiment. However, nobody would’ve thought it would have come down to this. After all, this is Conservative heartland and the Ontario Liberals aren’t the rural geezers they were in the 1920s.

    Rick Johnson (Liberal) 43.73% (+14.22%)
    John Tory (PC) 41.17% (-8.82%)
    Mike Schreiner (Green) 6.64% (-0.52%)
    Lyn Edwards (NDP) 5.98% (-5.94%)
    Jason Taylor (Ind) 0.90%
    Jake Pothaar (Family Coalition) 0.73% (+0.11%)
    Bill Denby (Freedom) 0.40% (-0.41%)
    John Turmel (Ind) 0.26%
    Paolo Fabrizio (Libertarian) 0.20%
    Liberal GAIN from PC
    Swing of 11.52% from PC to Liberal

    Holy crap. I know everybody was saying before the election that it would be extremely funny if Tory lost, but everybody said the seat was safe Conservative, so he couldn’t lose. Well, holy smoking crap. I knew Tory was a failure, but it’s hard to believe he actually managed to lose this one, especially to a governing party in the midst of a huge economic crisis.

    IIRC, this is the first time the governing party gains a seat in a by-election since 1986 (Liberal gain from PC in York East). And I think its also the first time since the ’80’s that the Liberals have represented this part of the world, though maybe not, since there’s been a hell lot of boundary changes since then. However, I do think this part of the world elected an incompetent NDPer in the 1990 NDP landslide. In sum, lol Ontario PC.