UPDATED: More by-election candidates set to announce
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A midsummer check-in with the political calendar finds the Liberals and NDP gearing up for their next tests of strength, with one or more nomination candidates set to announce this week.
In Montréal, QMI News is reporting that Viau provincial Liberal MNA Emmanuel Dubourg has been recruited by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau to run for the party nomination in Bourassa, with an announcement expected soon. The Haitian-born Dubourg's resignation from the Québec National Assembly would have the additional benefit of opening up a seat for newly-minted PLQ leader Philippe Couillard, QMI notes.
Meanwhile, several signs are pointing to the announcement of an expected competitor for Jennifer Hollett's bid for the NDP nomination in Toronto Centre, perhaps as early as Tuesday. In a blogpost making the rounds in NDP circles, Steelworkers economist and recent Saskatchewan NDP leadership contestant Erin Weir raises the question of whether Trudeau-recruited Liberal nomination contender Chrystia Freeland is truly progressive, and cryptically ends by saying his own party needs to nominate a candidate who could challenge Freeland on the issue of redressing income inequality. Contacted by Pundits' Guide, Weir confirms it's not him running though.
UPDATED: We know who it is now. The Toronto Star reports that its columnist Linda McQuaig is stepping down to run for the NDP nomination in Toronto Centre. McQuaig has a media availability at later this morning, according to her nomination campaign manager.
The Prime Minister's ability to call the set of three by-elections together early, meanwhile, was hampered by Bob Rae's decision to delay his retirement date from July 1 to 31. We could speculate as to the reason for that delay — Mr. Rae said it was to clear up constituency work, but it also conveniently allowed Rae to bridge his MP's salary to his MP's pension (his 65th birthday falling on August 2), and give leader-recruited Toronto Centre Liberal nomination candidate Chrystia Freeland the time to write a final column, relocate to Canada, and announce a competitive bid for the party nod against presumptive front-runner George Smitherman (who has since demurred).
Indeed Rae did resign on July 31 according to the Parliamentary website, though Elections Canada has not yet announced having received the vacancy warrant from the Commons Speaker. Here's the calendar we're looking at now, assuming the PM intends to call Bourassa, QC, Provencher, MB and Toronto Centre, ON all on the same day.
|Bourassa, QC||Provencher, MB||Toronto Centre, ON (est.)|
|(A)||Date of the vacancy:||Mon Jun 3, 2013||Mon Jul 15, 2013||Wed Jul 31, 2013|
|(B)||Date the Chief Electoral Officer was notified of the vacancy:||Mon Jun 3, 2013||Mon Jul 15, 2013||Tue Aug 6, 2013|
|(C)||First day the by-election could be called (11 days after (B)):||Fri Jun 14, 2013||Fri Jul 26, 2013||Sat Aug 17, 2013|
|(D)||36 days after (C):||Sat Jul 20, 2013||Sat Aug 31, 2013||Sun Sep 22, 2013|
|(E)||Earliest date the by-election could be held (First Monday*** on or after (D)):||Mon Jul 22, 2013||Tue Sep 3, 2013***||Mon Sep 23, 2013|
|(F)||Last the by-election can be called (180 days after (B)):||Sat Nov 30, 2013||Sat Jan 11, 2014||Sun Feb 2, 2014|
|(G)||36 days after (F):||Sun Jan 5, 2014||Sun Feb 16, 2014||Mon Mar 10, 2014|
|(H)||Latest date the by-election could be held (First Monday on or after (G)):||on or after Mon Jan 6, 2014||on or after Mon Feb 17, 2014||on or after Mon Mar 10, 2014|
|*** Or if the Monday is a statuatory holiday, then the Tuesday right afterwards.|
Remember that Parliament is scheduled to return on September 16, though many believe the government intends to delay that in favour of a throne speech later in the fall. Had Rae's resignation reached the Chief Electoral Officer on July 31, we could have been looking at an E-Day as early as Monday, September 16 for the three by-elections. But given that it doesn't appear to have done so (or else Elections Canada hasn't had time to issue a news release yet), the earliest date for the set of three by-elections is looking more like Monday, September 23.
Several other factors could affect the timing of a by-election call. Nominations for the Montréal municipal elections open on September 20 for a November 3 election date, and the Provencher Conservative riding president told Steinbach Online he's expecting a fall by-election. A November 3 call would result in an election on December 23. So unless the PM wants to call Bourassa separately, or else wants a writ period that overlaps the Québec municipal elections in November or enters the winter months in Provencher, circle September 23 on your calendar.
Here's the latest on candidate nominations in each of the three ridings.
Last time I mentioned that Bloc Québécois leader Daniel Paillé had ruled out a run in Bourassa, but I wasn't sure of the back story. It turns out there was a bit of controversy on this point last summer, just after out-going Liberal M.P. Denis Coderre announced that he would make known on November 9 whether he would run for the federal Liberal leadership or the mayoralty of Montréal. Of course, an open Québec seat would then have given the new seatless Bloc leader an opening to enter the Commons, but BQ riding vice-president Umberto Di Genova dismissed the possibility in an interview with QMI, saying that the riding association "already had a candidate" in riding president and 2008/11 standard-bearer Daniel Mailhot — which led the news agency to run a story saying the riding association had said "no" to its leader. Di Genova backtracked the next day, saying he hadn't realized that Mailhot's standing as the nominated candidate ended on the day of the each general election without another nomination meeting, and that of course Paillé was free to run for the nomination.
Regardless, not long afterwards, Paillé ruled out a run there – no doubt wisely, given the only time the Bloc had been in contention in this strongly allophone riding was in its first election in 1993 in the wake of the failure of Meech Lake and Charlottetown. In an interview last fall, the Bloc leader said he preferred to seek a seat in the next federal general election, though Bloc house leader Louis Plamondon's Bas Richelieu-Nicolet-Bécancour BQ riding association is sitting on a nice nest-egg should Paillé decide to change his mind.
The next month saw the curious case of Jean-Jacques Hermans, the former vice-president of communications for the Montréal Chamber of Commerce and 2006 Liberal candidate in Saint-Lambert, who took to Twitter thinking he was sending a direct message to Tom Mulcair personally, offering to run for the NDP in Bourassa. Nothing seems to have come of that, but the NDP is having a contested nomination, with two candidates now in the field for an as-yet-unscheduled nomination meeting.
Running for the NDP in Bourassa now are both: (i) their 2011 candidate, translater Julie Demers, and (ii) a PSAC regional vice-president, Haitian-born Larry Rousseau. Ruling himself out of both the Bourassa and Toronto Centre races on the other hand is former party president and leadership candidate Brian Topp.
Meanwhile, the once-mentioned former Liberal M.P. Pablo Rodriguez no longer seems to be factored into his party's expected contenders.
Whoever the successful NDP and Liberal candidates in Bourassa are, they will join Green Party deputy leader, former-NHL strongman Georges Laraque, also Haitian-born, who was appointed his party's standard bearer last month. Green pundits believed this move to be a "game changer" that would throw Liberals and NDPer's into a "tizzy", though to date this remains an unfulfilled prophecy.
For the Conservatives, although Prime Minister Stephen Harper was testing out his new Québec team over this past weekend, no word yet as to a potential Conservative candidate in Bourassa.
See the Blunt Objects psephology blog for a good rundown of the demography and electoral history of the riding.
Although the outcome of a by-election in such a safe Conservative seat would be a foregone conclusion, it's the party nomination here that will be the prize. Moreover, the Conservative riding president in an incumbent Conservative seat can be counted on for the best take on election timing.
In that light, we should note that Provencher Conservative EDA president Amos Weibe says he's expecting a fall by-election, and while no-one is saying whose is the best-placed Conservative to replace retiring Conservative MP Vic Toews, provincial Steinbach MLA Kevin Goertzen is considered to have have the first right of refusal should he decide that a federal run would not be a worse career move for him than waiting for a provincial cabinet seat — though Goertzen says he'll wait for the by-election call to announce his intentions. Other possible candidates, according to the Winnipeg Free Press' Dan Lett and Steinbach Online include former RCMP officer Wyman Sangster, Steinbach credit union president Ted Falk, and Steinbach deputy mayor Michael Zwaagstra, along with longshots Lynn Rempel of Rempel Insurance and VIA Rail chair Paul Smith. Zwaagstra, who is also the vice-president of the Conservative riding association, refused to be pinned down on his own interest in the nomination a few weeks ago.
Toronto Centre, ON
Assuming we get to a by-election call sooner rather than later, it seems to be mainly the Liberals and NDP who will have competitive nominations to this point.
Three Liberals have now declared for the nomination, including former George Smitherman aide and metis gay rights advocate Todd Ross (website here), former Reuters and Globe and Mail executive Chrystia Freeland who is moving back to Canada to compete for the party nod, and former Royal Bank IT executive, Diana Burke, whose bid for the nomination was unveiled last week. Blogger Zach Paikin meanwhile ruled himself out of the race awhile back, while former provincial cabinet minister and mayoralty candidate George Smitherman publicly withdrew last week in a column for HuffPo, saying that although he had been prepared to run after the Toronto Pride weekend, ultimately loyalty to the leader counted him out of a race against the leader's apparent preferred choice in Freeland. And since his name first made the rounds in the wake of Rae's resignation, former CTV Canada AM host Seamus O'Regan has been making a higher priority of profile in St. John's than Toronto, which probably answers the question as to his candidacy. The other name circulating last month, former Ignatieff aide Sachin Aggarwal, has yet to announce any intentions. UPDATE: in fact, he has … he announced on Twitter late last week that he's working on Freeland's nomination campaign (and thanks to an eagle-eyed reader for the link!).
Former Much Music VJ Jennifer Hollett announced her run for the NDP last month, though she was always expected to have some competition. It seems Hollett will find out for sure who she'll be facing sooner rather than later.