By-Elections Called

Four federal by elections have been called for March 17th which, one imagines, will make the urge to “go green” tempting for most candidates.

The two Ontario ones should be cake walks for Bob Rae and Martha Hall Findlay, giving Dion some fresh front bench strength. In Toronto Centre, Bill Graham won by over 16,000 votes in 2006 and the Tories are in disarray after the bizarre disqualification of Mark Warner. Expect NDP candidate El-Farouk Khaki to finish second here. Willowdale is an equally safe Liberal seat – a nice reward to Martha Hall Findlay for her strong performance during the leadership race and her endorsement of Dion at the convention.

Out in BC, Vancouver Quadra has been Liberal since John Turner took it in ’84, with Stephen Owen winning by 20% in 2006. After a contentious nomination that saw John Reynolds’ hand picked “star” go down in defeat, Deborah Meredith will carry Harper’s banner. The Liberals will send out former provincial Cabinet Minister Joyce Murray, the NDP will run Rebecca Coad, and the Greens are sending out Dan Grice. Expect the Liberals to hold onto this one.

The most interesting of the four comes is certainly the riding of DesnetheMissnippiChurchill River which engulfs all of northern Saskatchewan. The Liberals took the seat by 67 votes in 2006 when Gary Merasty knocked off Tory incumbent Jeremy Harrison (now a Sask Party MLA). This riding has been the source of controversy in recent days for the Liberals, with David Orchard gunning for the nomination amid rumours Dion will appoint former NDP MLA Joan Beatty. Personally, I hope Dion does go ahead with the appointment and not just because I’m not a big Orchard fan or because I have $10 riding on this by election in a bet I made before Merasty stepped down. Beatty is an accomplished female aboriginal who would be a big addition to the Liberal caucus and who stands a far better chance of winning the riding than Orchard.

Orchard certainly has the right to run for a seat in the next election given that he played a major role in electing Dion and does have a large following on the Prairies. And I can only imagine that the poor guy is having flashbacks to the Peter MacKay broken deal. Still, I’m sure another winnable rural riding can be found for David to run in. He should take a page from Justin Trudeau who, when denied the chance to run in Outremont, decided to fight a contested nomination in a Bloc held riding.

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in by elections

About CalgaryGrit

A former Calgary Liberal, now living in Toronto. My writings on politics can be found at and online at the National Post.

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