Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The sleeper scenario, that no one predicted, which avoids weeks of second guessing and nauseating over analysis. Prior to the by-elections, I wrote a post Ignatieff's Outremont, basically a realization that there was risk of a leadership crisis repeat, if we didn't appreciate the stakes and act accordingly. In the final analysis, Ignatieff's attention, the "all hands on deck" approach in both ridings, made a difference and offered a clear rebuke to the nonsensical naysayers who said "why bother?". Last night the Liberals showed some Grit, of that there is no question.

This was my sleeper scenario, primarily because it destroyed all the pre-election narratives that were establishing themselves. A Liberal win in Vaughan seemed an uphill battle, as did one in an NDP stronghold. From what I was able to gleam, we had the momentum in Winnipeg North in recent days, there was a buzz in the air, people cautious but upbeat. Ignatieff sent in the troops, organizers and outside help augmented a strong ground game. We had a well know candidate, but as the NDP pointed out yesterday, the overlap only amounted to 1/4 of the riding, something which makes the victory that much more impressive. Name recognition, with a work until the last minute attitude (the amount of MP's on hand last night in Winnipeg a testament) congealed into a surprising victory, which turned the punditry on its head and rendered all pre-conceptions obsolete. The kind of result which makes politics what is, and thank goodness.

The Liberals lost Vaughan, there is one more Conservative MP today than there was yesterday, but the pure facts aside, it feels like a moral victory of sorts. All the doom and gloom prognostications, of which I admit I began to believe, it seemed the stage was set for much hand wringing. As it turns out, Fantino squeaked out a slight victory, the gap less than 1000 voters, something no one predicted. A bit of a slap in the face to the peekaboo campaign style, clearly some were turned off by the entitlement flavour of the Fantino campaign. On the name recognition front, Fantino is as high profile as they come, even Don Cherry comes calling for added emphasis. I think this result was closer than expected because the Liberals didn't give up, GOTV was impressive, people worked their asses off, the leadership included. Again, had Ignatieff listened to some of the Liberal "insiders" and other snake oil salesman, we would have downplayed, kept people away and we probably would have lost by a much bigger margin. There is a lesson here for everyone- dubious sources are just that and definitive statements fail to understand historical precedents. By-elections, by their nature are unpredictable and bring surprises. You have to applaud the Liberals for effort, it made a difference in the end.

The NDP are the big losers last night, no question. For a fourth place party, anytime they lose a seat, it's a setback. The Conservatives can claim victory, simple math their ally. For the Liberals, we lost one, gained one, but when you factor in the predictions, the lead up, the general consensus, the EXPECTATIONS game, feels like a winner from here. Grit.


Jerry Prager said...

From my perspective, and with the Afghanistan fiasco, it's time for Ignatieff to go.

Jerry Prager said...

Actually for me, it was Ignatieff's lack of support for miners rights that lost my last bit of interest in him. His strong suit is rights advocacy and he folded his cards and supported corporatism.

Steve V said...


I obviously disagree, but welcome your perspective.

Tom said...

"It feels like a moral victory" that the LPC lost one of their safest seats, a seat that has never been anything else but Liberal? Surely, if the LPC gained in a NDP stronghold, so did the Conservative gain in Liberal stronghold.

Dylan said...

Steve, fantastic post.

A couple of thoughts: first, when I look at the voter turnout in both Vaughan and Winnipeg North, there are good signs and bad signs for the LPC. Believe it or not, Fantino actually improved on the CPC candidate's run during the 2008 general election by about 1,200 votes. Looking at Liberal support during the 08 election to Genco's by-election run, Genco's team "lost" nearly 8,000 votes. Now, these votes are not going Consrvative, but the fact that they didn't show up last night to help their candidate does not bode well given that the CPC team built on their 08 election numbers. The Liberals of Vaughan should be ready for round two and work their butts off during the remainder of the parliamentary session to cajole those 8,000 voters to come out and vote Liberal on general e-day.

Second, while all eyes are on Vaughan, Winnipeg North should not go unnoticed. Ignatieff was in Winnipeg four times since the by-election was called and put in a lot of hard work to get Kevin Lamoureux into parliament. Sure Kevin was a popular and well-liked MLA in the Manitoba Leg. but that never meant a by-election run would be in the bag from the get-go. Kevin Chief is extremely popular and the fact that the CPC candidate placed a distant (and that's being generous) third, means the local angst against the sitting NDP provincial government and PC popularity isn't having too much of an effect on the federal scene. This may be good news for former Liberal ridings in Winnipeg, such as Winnipeg South and St. Boniface.

Third, I believe it signals that when push comes to shove, some NDP voters will pad the LPC base - a base that is unfortunately more inclined to stay home than to vote for their party. Which says to me that killing things like bill C-311 is a mistake; and that the Liberals may need to court NDP voters on social issues while making the case for strong economic stability to keep traditional voters. Run on their economic track record for the die-hards and soft-conservatives all the while putting their money where their mouth is in terms of social justice. All the LPC needs is another 5%, and that five could come from the NDP if we take Winnipeg North seriously.

Steve V said...

The Liberal share of the vote held in Vaughan, it was much, much closer than anyone predicted. I think this by-election shows in a general we can win it back. Everyone was surprised, that counts for something and today's frame tells me it's true. Are the Liberals unhappy today, are they getting killed in the press? Your answer tells you EVERYTHING. This could have been a bad, bad night for the Liberals and it simply wasn't.

Steve V said...


I am weary of extrapolating by-election turnout. A bit apples and oranges, if you look historically. I take your point though.

JimBobby said...

Extrapolation aside, voter turnout in all three by-elections was pitiful. All of the parties ought to do more to motivate voters to get off their sorryasses. Trouble is, low turnout is an advantage to the parties. Fantino won with only 16% of the eligible vote. He can now operate as an MP as if he'd got 100%.

Canadians need to understand that voting is not just a right; it is a responsibility. We cannot depend on the politicians or parties or those in power to educate the public about that fact, though, when low turnout works in their favour.

Omar said...

"From my perspective, and with the Afghanistan fiasco, it's time for Ignatieff to go."

I made that determination following Ignatieff's absolute acquiescence toward the violations of civil liberties during the G20 in Toronto. It is apparent that in Mr Ignatieff's Canada having people in uniform bash and detain the citizenry is only an outrage when it costs too much. How lovely.

JimmE said...

Sometimes a so-called Party Stronghold owes more to the person who held the riding for so long rather than a decades long commitment to a party. I may be wrong, but I seem to recall the same riding was considered a safe Tory seat provincially when it was held by the late Mr Pallidini. In many places the draw of an individual Candidate is not what it once was, but there are exceptions I think from the little I know of that part of the GTA, or as my friends of Italian heritage call it Wood-a-bridge, Mr F was a shoe in. This & other ridings will interesting to watch in the next election.

Jerry Prager said...

Steve, I will say however that Fantino's win was much smaller than I would have thought. So clearly supercop isn't as popular as Harper thought, but we're talking Vaughn-Woodbridge here, and that's a place where the underworld married the overworld decades ago, so there is a multiverse of possibilities in that riding that no one is discussing.

Koby said...

1) Lamoureux won by promising to be tough on crime. In other words, he won by promising to be a Conservative in riding that would never vote for a real Conservative.

2)The notion that the Liberals secured a moral victory by limiting Fantino to just under 50% of the vote is absurd. The so called pundits who thought that Fantino would magically win by more simply do not know their craft. The magnitude of the Conservatives victory, while not as impressive as what the Liberals were able to do in Winnipeg North, can not be understated. The Conservatives took 35% of the vote in 2008 and 50% this time around. Even more impressive is that virtually the same number of people cast the votes in favour of the Conservatives this time around as last.

As for the Liberal share of the popular vote only falling by only 2.5%, two things. The NDP and Green supporters did not show up. Only 1150 people voted Green or NDP. 9306 voted Green or NDP the last time around. 2)only a 130 fewer people voted Conservative. By constrast, 9510 fewer people voted Liberal.

The Conservatives are slowly reducing the Liberals to rump around Toronto Center.

The Conservatives picked up Mississauga Erindal, Thornhill and Oak Ridges Markham last time out. Now they picked up Vaughn. Mississauga South, Brampton West, Alaj Pickering and Brampton Springdale stand a good chance of going blue next election.

Steve V said...


I think your "analysis" says more about you than what happened last night.... Jeez.

Möbius said...

"and that's a place where the underworld married the overworld decades ago, so there is a multiverse of possibilities in that riding that no one is discussing."

What does that mean, exactly? I'm not from the area, obviously.

Koby said...

Steve you are dreaming in techno colour again.

1) NDP collapse means a sure Conservative majority. The Conservatives have 144 seats plus Casey and André Arthur. Furthermore, even if the Liberals were somehow able to turn the tide and win the next election, they need the NDP to win enough seats such that they have the option of leaning right or leaning left. They do not want to be in position of having to rely on either the Conservatives or Bloc to get anything done.

2)The Liberals continue to bleed seats to the Conservatives in suburban Ontario. Unless the Liberals shore up their Toronto base the Conservatives will stand a very good chance of wining a majority.

Steve V said...


You know what dude? No matter what happens, the sky is falling. You're the one in the cynical fog, I just call em like they come, good or bad... It's predictable and frankly it bores me. Have at it...

Gayle said...


I watched a CPAC piece on the Winnipeg by election and all the candidates were promising to be tough on crime, so...

JimmE said...

Um, Dipper collapse? Really? You need to get out of you jim-jams more.
These things are what they are, generally folks are not even aware there IS a by-election.
So, if folks are super PO'd they VOTE THE BUMS OUT. If not, they vote only if motivated - or coxed, or bitched at.
Dude, I did a check, I was right in my last post, Mr Palladini, who if you don't know was better known than the bully-boy former cop Phantom-tino. He owned the same riding for who? Mr Harris, & who did he beat last time? A Mr Genco!
Were the Dippers ever a thing in Wood-a-bridge? NO. If Phantom-tino was a dipper who would have won the day? Maybe, I don't think so, but maybe.
Look at Trinity- Spadina.
I worked on Peter Stollery's campaigns in the '70's it was a Liberal Stronghold. Jimmy Couts was parachuted into it in & great city councillor Dipper Dan Heap won it for years. Tony Inno lost in 88 to Heaps, but won ever after loosing to her do-nuthingness O Chow in the Dipper Support of Harper in 2006. What happens next? It will depend on the election. You may want things to go a certain way but that don't make it so.
A By-election is just what it is. Seriously, you need to get out more.

Koby said...

Winnipeg free press: "Lamoureux, like his opponents, identified crime as the No. 1 issue in the riding while on the campaign trail, blasting the provincial NDP for failing to prevent the closure of two community policing stations in Winnipeg North."

It is was pretty hard for chief to sound convincing when a party with official ties to his own was closing police stations.

"You're the one in the cynical fog, I just call em like they come, good or bad..."

Really, I said Dion was a dog and he was. I said the Liberals would take 75 seats in 2008; they took 77. I said they would take 27% of they took 26.3 of the vote. I am not in a cynical fog.

Koby said...

I am not predicting a NDP collapse based on one by election.
To be honest I do not know what to make of what happened in Winnipeg North. All I am saying with regard to the NDP is that an NDP collapse would be terrible news for the Liberals.

For what it is worth, I said this on my blog.

"The Liberals will not hold onto Winnipeg North. Parties do not win a seat by 40 points in one general election and fail to win it in the next general election. The NDP will take Winnipeg North in the next election."

JimmE said...

Um, let me see if I have this right.
You say "NDP collapse means a sure Conservative majotity" then you say you are not predicting a NDP collapse.
So why does a dipper collapse mean whateveritisyoumean?
I get that for some reason that in Manitoba & RiderNation folks go from Dipper to Tory without batting an eyelash, but that is not the norm in the rest of Canada. So please elucidate me on your interesting counter intuitive ideas.

Gayle said...

The relevant part is here:

"Lamoureux, like his opponents, identified crime as the No. 1 issue in the riding..."

ALL the candidates were promising to be tough on crime. If you really think THAT was the issue that put Lamoureux over the top I think you need to go back and do some more research.

You know what else that article said? This:

"Chief, a 35-year-old educator and community leader, ran a strong campaign that engaged many citizens, young and old, in the political process for the first time. But as a political rookie, he lacked Lamoureux’s profile."

Tomm said...


A couple months ago, I told you I wasn't coming back, but just had to provide my comments on the by-elections.

I think Koby is close to what is occurring. If the Green's and the NDP jointly move 20% of the total vote into their column in a general election, then that vote has nowhere to come from except to be carved out of the Liberal numbers.

The only other place it comes from is that those voters just never bothered to go to the polls on Monday. I guess that is what Liberal's have to bank on.

If the CPC can continue to find solid candidates (not parachutes, but local), then that is an added burden in the GTA.

The Liberal waxing of September has turned into the Liberal wane of Movember. Sorry, I just had to say that.

However, I am not convinced that the CPC could necessarily gain more GTA seats without seeing general polling trends, or the new CPC candidates.

rockfish said...

Can't let log cabin Tomm get the last word... As 'significant' as by-elections are, this one offered some interesting snippets to filter. CONs add a seat on the edge of big TO, thanks to a real star candidate (so far most CON 'star' candidates have proven to be duds)... Expected Liberal collapse in Vaughan not quite as advertised, however, it still doesn't stop so-called liberal media from continuing the Harper-friendly drumbeat. Then the Winnipeg verdict - a quiet Wow! If anything there's something for all wannabe candidates to learn from in that campaign. Harper can crow, Ignatieff has some resilient street cred, and Jack-o should be leary of his own shadow for a few months. If it comes down to it, who do you think will prop up Harper if push comes to shove?
Still, with a majority of the media pitching the CON-favoured storylines, the head of the RcMP a true Harper stooge, and rising cynicism of the whole political system, it could be near impossible to bust-up the CON minority cycle... Except more facetime for el Presidente Harper himself.

Steve V said...

"I think Koby is close to what is occurring."