By-Election Day In Ontario

Holyday isn't going to lose any votes because of the scandal surrounding the truck behind him. But he might because of the guy to his left.

Holyday isn’t going to lose any votes because of the scandal surrounding the truck behind him. But he might because of the guy to his left.

Ontarians head to the polls in five ridings today, to replace five outgoing Liberal MPPs.

The fate of the government does not hang on these by-elections. If the Liberals hold all five seats, they’d be one floor crossing or resignation away from a majority, but that would take a small miracle. As such, the by-elections will likely be spun as a referendum on Kathleen Wynne’s first 6 months in power, even though we have binders full of case studies showing that byelections are almost always about the local candidates and local dynamics.

With that, here’s my guess at how they’ll unfold tonight.

Windsor-Tecumseh: This one looks like the only seat that isn’t really in play, with the polls and pundits in agreement that Dwight Duncan’s old riding is going orange. Windsor is NDP country, and the ongoing economic troubles there leave the ground fertile for Andrea Horwath’s message.

London West: Chris Bentley took this riding by 8,000 votes in 2011 and 14,000 votes in 2007. So when labour leader and former NDP member Ken Coran decided to run for the Liberals, many called him an opportunist. But wouldn’t you know it? His candidacy has crumbled, and the riding as now viewed as a PC-NDP toss. My guess is it will go PC, but we shouldn’t be surprised by anything there tonight. Hell, Al Gretzky is running for the Freedom Party – and who would vote against freedom or a Gretzky?

Ottawa South: This riding has been red, federally and provincially, since 1987. A lot of McGuintys have won a lot of elections during that time. With the Liberals running Dalton’s constituency aide John Fraser, I initially had this pegged as a Liberal hold on the strength of their ground game, but I’m going to revise my prediction to the PCs. Not so much because of the polls (though they do point that way), but because of the ongoing controversy surrounding the riding’s former MPP. Just as Calgary Elbow voters sent a message in Ralph Klein’s old riding in 2007, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Ottawa South voters make a statement tonight.

Scarborough-Guildwood: It appears that Adam Giambrone is heading for a richly deserved third place finish. And with the NDP failing to gain traction, it seems unlikely the Liberals will bleed enough to lose a riding Margaret Best won by 20 points two years ago.

Etobicoke-Lakeshore: This has turned into the most interesting contest, with Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday taking on councillor Peter Milczyn. It’s a tough race to call, with two high profile candidates, a retiring MPP scarred by McGuinty’s war with the teachers, Rob Ford injecting himself into the campaign, and a silly scandal around a garbage truck. All of this in a very unique riding that is part “Ford country” and part a wall of waterfront glass condos. So your guess is as good as mine but, for me, “sitting councillor” beats “out-of-riding Deputy Mayor” more often than not. Doug Holyday may be competent, but he’s not a political superstar by any means.

Add it all up, and you get 2 red, 2 blue, and 1 orange seat tonight, but I wouldn’t be surprised to be surprised. A few robocall polls don’t shed a lot of light on things when one in a hundred surveys are completed and one in three eligible voters bother to cast their ballot. Politics is the last thing on the minds of Ontarians right now, so it may very well come down to which campaign is best able to drag their supporters to the ballot box kicking and screaming.

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in by elections, Ontario Politics

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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One Response to By-Election Day In Ontario

  1. Marc from soccer

    Weird result for Hudak if he wins Etobicoke but loses London.

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