Notes from the By-election Campaign Trail
Don't forget to check out By-election Central at http://byelxn.punditsguide.ca.
Time to catch up on the by-election campaigns going on, and make a few notes on the ones that could be coming down the pike.
- Two of the Liberal candidates have tried the "debate challenge gambit". In the case of Tony Genco, he's challenged his Conservative opponent in Vaughan, Julian Fantino, to a debate; while in Winnipeg North, Kevin Lamoureux has challenged his NDP opponent Kevin Chief. Since front-runners rarely challenge opponents to debates, this is usually the tactic of a challenger who is either trying for some media coverage, or believes they perceive some kind of weakness in the front-runner. We'll keep an eye out for any resulting debates.
- Here's another question about debate challenges: are they challenging who they believe their opposition to be, or who they hope their opposition is? It's a question worth raising, in light of the Prime Minister's surprise visit to Winnipeg North. Events are not proposed for a PM's schedule unless they can be justified as a good use of time, and are considered to be beneficial and not harmful to the governing party's strategic objectives. Anyone who believes this was just a matter of being in town to say hello, has not considered all the different places the "listening tour" could have been scheduled to start, apart from Winnipeg. So, is Mr. Lamoureux hearing Conservative footsteps close behind him, and wanting to portray the riding as a two-party race? This must have all been part of the strategic reasoning behind proposing a two-way debate with the NDP, one assumes from outside.
- Still with the Prime Minister's campaign stop, it became news first in a blogpost and then a story by the Winnipeg Free Press' Mia Rabson. Debate is continuing as to why it might have been organized that way, but I'm reasonably convinced that the method chosen (a) limited the election expenses that would have been incurred, and (b) allowed the PM to deliver the very targeted messages he wanted to without distraction — not only the verbal message that contained the positioning statement and preferred ballot question, but the non-verbal one that was communicated by his presence with a new candidate representing a newly targeted demographic for his party in that riding.
- Back to the Liberals, Dauphin — Swan River — Marquette, MB candidate Christopher Scott Sarna was officially nominated on November 2, it turns out, so now having a nomination date for him, I've entered him into the database, along with his website, and his Facebook fan page, which was just set up on Tuesday and details his extensive political experience with both the Liberals and PCs in Manitoba and Alberta. He's having his campaign kick-off this coming Sunday at the resort he is part-owner of, the Elkhorn. His NDP opponent, Denise Harder, has also just surfaced on Facebook. Their Green counterpart, meanwhile, is reporting on Twitter that the Conservative vote is "collapsing", and asserts that "#DSRM is going Green". Now, she may be right. Or not. But the risk for candidates playing the expectations game this way is that it's awfully hard to come back from dashed expectations the next time around. Which is why most experienced candidates don't.
- Tony Clement is the second cabinet minister to lend a hand to Conservative candidate Julian Fantino for an announcement on taxes and small business, following last week's campaign visit by Rob Nicholson focusing on the victims of crime. Looks like they were going to go canvassing together with Peter MacKay afterwards as well. Fantino was also scheduled to give an interview to Vaughan Today yesterday (if you'll pardon the pun).
- Here's another take on that Vaughan Liberal rally, from YorkRegion.com. Conservative blogger Stephen Taylor and the Calgary Grit have been sparring over the general topic. Other Liberal bloggers have been trying to land some punches on Julian Fantino.
- Under the heading of campaign techniques: Liberal Tony Genco announced on Twitter that he had engaged with 8,700 Vaughan citizens by a tele-townhall. I'm told it's a very powerful technology that permits campaigns to know who is listening, and get all-important Voter ID at the same time, but 8,700 voters is 1/6.5 of all the electors who voted in Vaughan during the 2008 election: that's a lot of power if true. I also tried to participate in one of Vaughan Green candidate Claudia Rodriguez-Larrain's daily 7 PM Skype sessions, but had some technical problems, so I'll try again another time.
- Stop the presses! This is the first ever set of by-elections NOT being contested by John Turmel — at least that I can remember. Although he could still show up in the Haute Gaspésie seat, I suppose, if that one ever gets called.
- Meanwhile, the anti-Conservative conservative parties are splintering: in addition to Progressive Canadian party candidate Dorian Baxter, Vaughan will be playing host to the first ever candidacy of the recently-registered United Party of Canada, whose leader Brian Jedan is also nominated. The United Party was formed by some former members of the Progressive Canadian party, who are red tories unhappy with the merger of the former Progressive Conservative party with the Canadian Alliance. They'll be joined by Paolo Fabrizio of the Libertarian Party, who promises to be a better taxfighter, and even more resolutely opposed to the gun registry, than other conservatives. The Christian Heritage Party is fielding candidates in both Manitoba ridings (Jerome Dondo in DSRM and Eric Truijen in Winnipeg North), but not in Vaughan. Finally, at the other end of the spectrum, Ed Komarniski will run for the Communist Party of Canada in Winnipeg North, and we've already mentioned Jeff Coleman of the Pirate Party running there, and independent Leslie Bory in Vaughan. This rounds out the full slate of by-election candidates. Advanced voting starts on Friday, November 19.
- In the vacant seats with no by-election calls as yet, Haute Gaspésie — La Mitis — Matane — Matapédia, QC Liberal candidate Nancy Charest is shooting back at the Bloc Québécois' Jean-François Fortin over his having been employed in the constituency office of retired MP Jean-Yves Roy. And Jack Layton made a visit to Prince George — Peace River, BC to join NDP nomination candidate Lois Boone outside Jay Hill's former constituency office in a bid to urge the Prime Minister to call the by-election there so voters could pass judgement on the HST.
- Gary Doer may no longer be the Premier of Manitoba, but his wife Ginny Devine, who is a well-known pollster in the province, dropped in to visit the Kevin Chief campaign during Jack Layton's recent visit, and stayed to pose for a few pictures. And while I'm sure that these ads which started running last weekend have more to do with this, they are certainly a happy coincidence for Mr. Chief's campaign, although probably no more so than these ones or these others ones are for the Conservative candidates' campaigns. Also recently seen campaigning with Chief is former Liberal candidate and well-known Métis musician Ray St. Germain. Contrary to the prevailing wisdom in some quarters that aboriginal people don't participate in canadian electoral politics, Chief's campaign is said to have signed up some 600 new members in that riding. Additionally, I seem to have overlooked mentioning in my review of provincial MLAs last time that Wellington MLA Flor Marcelino is also a provincial cabinet minister for tourism (she's a newer member since my times in Winnipeg, is my excuse).
- Another topic I really scotched up last time was my quick review of the provincial history of Vaughan riding, on which I have been corrected by several knowledgeable veterans of the area. Al Palladini passed away during his second term as an Ontario MPP for the riding, and was replaced by Greg Sorbara in the subsequent by-election. My apologies for not taking the extra few minutes to get those details correct.
Here are the latest Facebook counts, with a few new candidates putting in their first appearances.
Vaughan – Facebook Count
Tally at 4:55 AM — Fantino – 379, Genco – 356, Bordian – 177, Rodriguez-Larrain – 115
Nov 8 at 6:20 AM — Fantino – 351, Genco – 323, Bordian – 166, Rodriguez-Larrain – 104
Nov 6 at 3:40 AM — Fantino – 343, Genco – 309, Bordian – 164, Rodriguez-Larrain – 100
Nov 4 at 1:40 AM — Fantino – 305, Genco – 260, Bordian – 85
Winnipeg North – Facebook Count
Tally at 4:55 AM — Chief – 1,178, Lamoureux – 543, Javier – 119, Coleman – 56, Harvie – 4
Nov 8 at 6:20 AM — Chief – 1,167, Lamoureux – 528, Javier – 106
Nov 6 at 3:40 AM — Chief – 1,141, Lamoureux – 504, Javier – 96
Nov 4 at 1:40 AM — Chief – 1,118, Lamoureux – 434, Javier – 66
Dauphin – SW-M – Facebook Count
Tally at 4:55 AM — Sopuck – 103, Storey – 64, Harder – 20, Sarna – 19
Nov 8 at 6:20 AM — Sopuck – 91, Storey – 52
Nov 6 at 3:40 AM — Sopuck – 90, Storey – 50
Nov 4 at 1:40 AM — Sopuck – 55