Voters in Durham, Victoria, and Calgary Centre head to the polls tonight in what were originally pegged as three “safe” by-elections. The story appears to be following the script in Durham and Victoria but, unexpectedly, Calgary Centre has become the riding to watch. When Lee Richardson resigned from Parliament last spring, no one could have fathomed the type of bizarro world we’d find ourselves in, with the Tories on the ropes, the Greens attacking the Liberals, and two-year old comments by Justin Trudeau becoming the defining issue of the campaign.
While it seems likely the Conservatives will hold the riding, I don’t have a lot of confidence in any of the polls we’ve seen, and there remains a small chance the Liberals or Greens could break through. Since it would be a shame for a blog titled “Calgary Grit” to miss the first win by the Liberal Party of Canada in Calgary since 1968, I’ll be live-blogging the results here as soon as the polls close at 7:30 Mountain Time.
7:57 pm (Mountain Time): You can find live results from all three by-elections here.
8:01 pm: The Elections Canada blackout has been lifted (since, you know, voters in Durham would be affected by how well the Green Party does in Calgary) and, with 15 polls reporting, we have a race in Calgary. Still extremely early, but Crockatt leads Locke by just 9 votes.
8:04 pm: I’m skeptical this will last, but with 20 polls reporting, the Liberals now lead in Calgary by 10 votes. The Conservatives look safe in Durham, but the NDP are running a surprisingly strong second there.
8:12 pm: While I’m glad to see Locke up, we should all be concerned that a Liberal win in Calgary was part of the ancient Mayans’ “end of the world in 2012” prophecy.
8:17 pm: With 45 of 262 polls reporting, the Libs and Tories are now tied at 990 votes, with the Greens only 200 behind.
8:37 pm: As Crockatt begins to pull away, everyone will be blaming this one on the vote split, bringing on another round of “merger/single candidate” talk. My view? Just go to the preferential ballot. It would solve the vote split issue.
8:52 pm: Elections Canada has Crockatt up by 334 votes with over a third of the polls reporting, but tweets coming from (supposedly) Liberal HQ show the Grits in front.
9:06 pm: And the Greens now lead in Victoria! What a fun day for political junkies.
9:47 pm: Both the Elections Canada data and the on-the-ground reports appear to be converging to the same conclusion – a slim victory for Joan Crockatt.
10:02 pm: Before I sign off for the night, let me add a bit of historical context. Since 1968, there have been many instances of Liberal candidates earning around 30% of the vote in Calgary ridings – heck, Cam Stewart picked up 27.7% during the Ignatieff flame out election last year. But Bev Longstaff’s “record” of 32.6% could very well fall tonight, with Locke sitting at 33.2% right now.