Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Monday, November 25, 2013
If the Liberals Win Brandon-Souris today...
Today there are two elections to fill vacancies left by Conservative MPs who have retired from public office to do other things. Merv Tweed of Brandon Souris left to become president of Omnitrax Canada and Vic Toews left to return to a law practice. Two other by-elections in Toronto and Montreal for departing Liberals take place as well.
I am not going to make hay of people leaving office before their terms are over. We have seen it periodically done by politicians over the years. The provincial NDP have criticized past Conservative leaders resigning from office while ignoring how their own leader Gary Doer left half way through his term.
Suffice to say that elected officials leave office due to health, family and work related reasons just like any other job.
By-elections by tradition are generally more about what is happening locally than getting into sweeping national issues. Most fly under the radar which suits the government in power fine. It is they who set the timing of the vote inside of a year.
Prime Minister Harper called the by-elections when it appeared it would do the least damage to him or his government. In short, he wanted any Senate scandal wrapped up and to come off a Conservative convention with good momentum. Best case scenario would be Tories retain their seats with good margins, steal a seat possibly from Liberals and watch Opposition attack each other. In the aftermath, point out the failures of the other political leaders in not doing better.
The worst case scenario is if the Liberals win their seats and gain one and get better numbers across the board.
For the NDP, any win today would be a victory. That would be the best case scenario. The worst case is if their vote share went down.
The situation in Ottawa has been brutal in the last months. The Harper government's handling of The Senate has not been their finest hour. They might try to deflect and say it isn't important but when the RCMP starts poking around and talking fraud and possible arrests, the situation looks to unwind quickly.
Stephen Harper certainly looks to own the results of Brandon-Souris entirely. He has campaigned there directly through a letter to constituents and has test driven the main argument against the Liberals. To whit, he believes Brandon will make marijuana an issue in not voting Liberal.
If Manitoba voters want to send a message to Ottawa today, they ought to vote for the Liberal in Brandon-Souris as well as Provencher. It would send a loud and clear message to Stephen Harper that he has to do better than he has been doing.
If the polls are to be believed, the Liberals do have a chance of taking Brandon. And wouldn't that be something if they did.