While most will toast Bev Oda’s departure with a $16 glass of orange juice, to me, she’ll always be the Cabinet Minister who doctored government files and got away with it. In some respects Harper oews his majority government to Oda, as her “not” problem last winter emboldened the opposition to bring down his government. Maybe that’s why he stuck by her as long as he did.
Either way, Oda did Harper another favour yesterday by announcing she is resigning as an MP. This will allow her boss to bring someone who almost has to be more competent into Cabinet during his summer cabinet shuffle (which everyone is frantically speculating about now but, if history is any indication, won’t live up to the hype).
While there is no rush to call a by-election, one assumes Durham will get bundled up with by-elections in Calgary Centre and, barring a change of heart by the Supreme Court, Etobicoke Centre – most likely this fall.
In addition to opening up a Cabinet spot, Oda’s departure will therefore let Harper claim a “two out of three ain’t bad” night when the by-elections roll around, even if he loses Etobicoke Centre. That’s because, like the Calgary by-election, it would take an act of Higgs boson for this riding to change hands.
The Conservatives took Durham by over 33 percentage points last election (CPC 55%, NDP 21%, LPC 18%, Green 5%), making it the 16th “safest” Tory seat in Ontario. Using census demographics, a regression analysis, and other yucky statistical models, the ridings comes out as the 8th most “Conservative” riding in Ontario, so it seems unlikely their vote total was being drive by a love of Bev Oda.
Sure, it will be interesting to see if Tory support shifts and who finishes second. But truth be told, this by election may be even less competitive than Calgary Centre – and that’s saying something.