Five New By-election Candidates Announce
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Five new by-election candidates have announced their intention to seek their party's nomination in the last day, from Bourassa to Brandon.
Juno-award-winning 1990's rock singer Stéphane Moraille – who is now a lawyer practicing in the field of intellectual property – will as expected officially kick off her campaign Tuesday morning at 10 AM at the Club Social in Montréal-Nord. Moraille joins 2011 candidate Julie Demers, PSAC Regional Vice-President Larry Rousseau, and another PSAC official who has apparently also been running for awhile but whose campaign escaped my notice until I checked the Bourassa NPD Facebook page, Mario LeClerc. LeClerc ran for the NDP in Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry South, ON in the last election – an Ontario riding that includes Cornwall, and sits right along the Québec border. The party has not scheduled a nomination meeting as yet, beyond simply saying that it will be held "next month".
The winner of that race will join Green Party candidate and Deputy Leader Georges Laraque, who was appointed their standard-bearer a few weeks back, but held his campaign office opening this past Thursday August 15. The Liberals will select their candidate at a nomination meeting on Sunday, September 8 at 2 PM (still no location announced), with now-former Viau MNA Emmanuel Dubourg as the only so-far announced contender.
I still can't find any evidence of the Bloc Québécois or the Conservatives, though the latter did have a cheekily "helpful" suggestion for the former, wherein Québec political minister Denis Lebel double-dared Bloc leader Daniel Paillé to go back on his earlier decision not to run in the riding. I see this little gambit did not get covered anywhere in the french-language media, however.
Le Devoir is reporting meanwhile that a fifth New Democrat could join the race shortly – a young haitian hip-hop singer. They couldn't get a comment on nomination news from the Bloc, though.
Toronto Centre, ON
Transgendered rights and housing activist Susan Gapka has in the end decided to join the NDP nomination race, as she announced on Twitter Monday afternoon. By Monday evening she was out canvassing in the riding … with fellow nomination candidate Jennifer Hollett!
Last Friday at midnight was the deadline for signing up new members in order to vote at the party's September 15 nomination meeting, so Gapka will have to mount a campaign amongst existing members, something she and the other two candidates – Hollett and journalist Linda McQuaig – will get to do at the first (and perhaps only) all-candidates' debate, slated during the Toronto YND conference this Friday evening. Your correspondent will endeavour to be in attendance, so save me a spot at the media table.
I was not able to get to the campaign launches of either Chrystia Freeland (two events on Aug 6) or Diana Burke (Aug 13), who are running along with Todd Ross (launched back on July 23) for the Liberal party nomination, but I'll try and make any other events I get invited to (hint, hint). Freeland tells the WonkBlog at WaPo that she "is capitalist red like tooth and claw", while Burke is making the case for legalizing commerce in marijuana, and Ross' nomination bid has been taken note of by the Liberal Aboriginal Commission which has set the goal of running 10 aboriginal candidates in Ontario in the next federal election. The nomination date has not been set there, but expected in "early September" sometime. To date, no evidence of super-recent activity from either the Greens or the Conservatives in this riding, though they both elected new riding executives this spring.
An aide to outgoing M.P. Merv Tweed handed in his letter of resignation Monday, in order to seek the Conservative nomination. Running is former Tweed Executive Assistant and Souris native, Chris Kennedy; but by day's end Kennedy was joined in the race by Brandon city councillor Len Isleifson, who had first been interested in running 15 years ago, he told the Brandon Sun.
Kennedy's announcement was met by a riposte from local NDP riding president Vanessa Hamilton, who is herself not ruling out a run, although she says she would want support of the local Green and Liberal riding associations to do so. A Brandon-area columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press, Deveryn Ross, argues though that the Liberals need to show they can recruit a strong enough candidate to get out of fourth place, so Ms. Hamilton may be disappointed there.
Meanwhile, the managing editor of the Brandon Sun thinks we should keep an eye out for Virden mayor Jeff McConnell and MLA Chris Cullen as contenders to replace Tweed. McConnell is certainly watching the race, because he snapped a photograph of Tweed and Kennedy set to enter the Virden rodeo parade together a few days later.
Not much new to report here. It seems to have escaped the notice of people in Ottawa and elsewhere across the country, but Manitoba still has not passed its provincial budget, which is being held up thanks to an opposition filibuster in the legislature over the proposal to raise the provincial sales tax to pay for flood mitigation measures. This is relevant to the federal by-election here, because one of the chief holder-uppers is Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen, who is the Opposition Progressive Conservative party's House Leader. He told Steinbach Online last week that they plan to push the session into September, in spite of the frayed nerves on both sides of the house.
Goertzen has already indicated that he won't announce his intentions relative to the federal nomination until the by-election is called, so one can easily imagine the Manitoba NDP government hoping for an early federal by-election call, in order to distract their provincial opponent's key tactician away from the Leg long enough for them to get their budget passed. As we reported last time, it's generally assumed that Goertzen would be the leading contender for the federal Conservative nod to replace Vic Toews, should he decide to jump into the race. However, he might have hopes for a cabinet post in a future provincial government, in which case the field could open right up. One local online news outlet that will be covering it is MySteinbach.ca, one of whose columnists is planning an entire series on all the candidates who enter the contest.
That's the state of nomination news, but it isn't the only news around the by-election ridings, most of which surrounds Bourassa this time, and the candidacy of now-former Viau MNA, Emmanuel Dubourg.
Dubourg was one of the original endorsers of Justin Trudeau when he sought the contested federal nomination in Papineau riding, and indeed Viau provincially overlaps Papineau federally (and is only adjacent to Bourassa), so the two have campaigned for another one since then. In turn, Trudeau presented Dubourg with a Diamond Jubilee medal earlier this June.
Dubourg resigned his Viau seat on Friday, August 9 and held a news conference announcing his run for the federal Liberal nomination, saying that while, yes, he was a friend of Trudeau's, no he hadn't been promised an uncontested run, and that if he didn't win the nomination, he was "out of a job".
This is all true, but it's the circumstances under which Dubourg chose to resign a month earlier than he needed to that become interesting. The minority PQ government introduced Bill 33 in March to end the practice of paying severance to MNAs who chose to resign their seats before the end of their terms. The Bill was supported by the CAQ, but opposed by the provincial Liberals, including Dubourg who voted against it at second reading. Recently, this has led PQ minister Bernard Drainville to accuse the Liberals of blocking passage of the bill in order to allow Dubourg to resign before the rollback could take effect, and even PLQ leader Philippe Couillard has allowed that perhaps if he wins the federal seat, Dubourg should consider paying the $100K back.
Situate this all in the context of (i) the uproar that followed the arrest of the last interim mayor of Montréal, Michael Appelbaum, when it was realized he would nevertheless receive a large severance package, and (ii) the on-going positioning game the PQ, CAQ, and PLQ are playing in light of the minority government situation.
The gambits extend to what to do about the now-vacant Viau seat. Couillard ruled out a run there almost right away, and is rumoured to have chosen the seat of Roberval to run in during the next election, though the provincial Liberals refuse to confirm that just yet. Then, perhaps taking a leaf from Denis Lebel's move last week, Québec premier Pauline Marois "offered" the seat uncontested to Couillard as a courtesy to the opposition party leader — a move he again declined.
These are tiny pawn-like moves, Lebel's and Marois'. They were made not to achieve their stated purposes, but rather the benefits of such offers being declined — sort of like accumulating free "mau-mau"-ing rights over a "leaderless party" or an opposition leader who is "afraid" to enter the legislature or something. In fact, in both cases, it's the party making the offer that has more to lose — the Conservatives could place fifth in Bourassa (sixth, if they fell behind the possible Rhino candidate), while the PQ is unlikely to win provincially in Viau. But Lebel's move also raises another possible concern of the Conservative government in Ottawa: namely that the BQ "vote" in Bourassa – a vote share it obtained when it was still considered by many voters to be one of the main federal parties in the province – could collapse in the absence of a strong by-election candidate or an organized riding association, and then consolidate behind the NDP. Paillé and Couillard are both wise to stick to their own game plans, and avoid reacting to the gimmick of the week. But the stakes are higher for Paillé, who will have a harder time managing the fallout from a poor performance than Lebel. I'm sure he was contemplating that during his balloon ride over St-Jean-sur-Richelieu last week, in the riding where I'm sure he would much rather run in 2015.