UPDATED: Wide-open Conservative nominations delay by-election timetable
A vigourous Conservative nomination contest in Brandon–Souris, and the sudden withdrawal of two presumptive favourites from the Conservative race in Provencher, mean the fall by-elections will happen later rather than sooner.
Nominations have already opened in both rural Manitoba ridings, notwithstanding that Brandon–Souris, MB Conservative M.P. Merv Tweed's resignation won't become official until this Saturday, August 31. They close on Wednesday, September 11, and if more than one candidate is duly qualified in either riding, per Conservative Party rules a 21-day waiting period takes effect before a nomination meeting can be held.
Put a nomination meeting roughly three weeks later – say between Wednesday October 2 and Sunday October 5 – with a call by that Sunday, that gives you an E-Day around Monday, November 11, rather than September 21 as we guessed last time, or October 21 as some others are speculating.
Here's the latest nomination and by-election news.
UPDATES: There is a new Liberal candidate in Bourassa, and the Toronto Centre Greens did open nominations for a week. See more below under each riding.
The Conservative riding association announced last Friday that nominations were open in this southeastern Manitoba riding.
Then Steinbach MLA Kelvin Goertzen emailed key insiders Monday night to signal his surprising announcement Tuesday that he would not be running for the federal Conservative nod to replace Vic Toews after all, leaving the race wide open.
The opposition house leader in the Manitoba legislature, told SteinbachOnline.com that he wanted to stick around provincially to finish the job he was elected to do, and fight the next election. And, moreover, with a young family Goertzen realized the travel to Ottawa would be daunting.
It was then expected that riding vice-president and Steinbach deputy mayor Michael Zwaagstra would jump in to fill the void.
But today, Zwaagstra bowed out as well, again citing the concerns of a young family. These were the two top contenders for one of the safest federal Conservative seats in the country. What the heck is going on here?
Meanwhile Provencher Liberals had been expecting Toews' resignation since before July, according to riding president Terry Hayward last month, scheduling a by-election meeting a week later, followed by a canvassing training session the following week. No news about a candidate or nomination meeting since then, however, nor anything from the NDP or Greens as yet.
Does no-one want to run in Provencher? Who knew Vic Toews could be so irreplaceable!
Conservative nominations were opened here Friday as well, even before outgoing MP Merv Tweed's resignation takes effect. As we already reported, first out of the gate was former Tweed political aide Chris Kennedy, followed quickly by Brandon city councillor Les Isleifson (neither of whom has a website with photos, hence photo credit: Brandon Sun).
They were joined by Arthur-Virden MLA Larry Maguire, who launched a website the Friday before with a count-down to kick off his campaign Monday at 10 AM, announcing endorsements from the mayor of Souris and two Brandon city councillors at the same time. Also expected to weigh in with a decision soon is Spruce Woods MLA Cliff Cullen, while Riding Mountain MLA Leane Rowat has taken her name off the table.
Surprisingly, the NDP is now looking at a contested nomination here as well, with two candidates announcing in the last twenty-four hours. First out of the gates was Labour Council president Cory Szczepanski (pictured below right), followed later yesterday by the party's standard-bearer in 2008 and 2011, locomotive engineer and Brandon West provincial riding president John Bouché (pictured below left, with Vanessa Hamilton between them).
No Liberals have announced yet, though a rep from the Manitoba Liberals told the Brandon Sun they'd been approached by two candidates interested in trying. Green Party leader Elizabeth May, on the other hand, seemed ready to sign onto NDP riding president Vanessa Hamilton's "cooperation" proposal, at least until it was declared dead on arrival by the NDP and the Grits. This riding was the last one in Manitoba to be filled on the Liberal slate in 2011, with perennial candidate Wes Penner from neighbouring Provencher stepping in at the last minute, and placing fourth on election day. For the Greens, on the other hand, teacher David Barnes reached a 2008 high of 15.8% for the party, before falling back to a 5.7% vote-share in 2011. Weak campaigns from both parties now will signal a kind of "cooperation through the back-door" approach, and an acknowledgement of which party is better placed to take on the Conservatives in the smaller cities in western Canada.
Toronto Centre, ON
The centre of the universe continues to be the major focus of mainstream media attention in central Canada, not least for all the drama in the Liberal and NDP nomination races. I had a chance to go down to Toronto last Friday and Saturday and catch up on some of the news in person.
First stop was at the barbecue and campaign office opening of Liberal nomination candidate Todd Ross, Friday at noon. Suffice to say, a free lunch in that part of town was a big draw. Ross has a friendly, humble and sincere way with people from all walks of life, which goes a long way in politics. He worked his way up and down the food line-up a couple of times as did his partner, and then he gave a short speech inside the office focusing on poverty and housing, followed by the same speech outside to those still in line.
I saw a number of people sign up to join the Liberal Party at Ross' launch. Unfortunately, being Friday, August 23, it would wind up falling after the August 20 membership cut-off date established when the LPC (Ontario) scheduled the nomination meeting for Sunday September 15, which they did on Tuesday. If I had been one of the sign-ups or volunteering on Ross' team, I would have found that incredibly frustrating.
Ross is the former assistant to one-time Toronto Centre MPP and former mayoralty candidate George Smitherman, and he is being supported by his former counterpart, the constituency assistant for MP Bill Graham. Unfortunately for them, both their bosses have endorsed the leader's presumed candidate, Chrystia Freeland; Smitherman doing so in a pretty blunt HuffPo blogpost this week. Meanwhile Diana Burke has received the endorsement of former provincial cabinet minister Alvin Curling, former Liberal MP and leadership contender Martha Hall Findlay, and one-time Toronto Centre Conservative candidate Mark Warner as well.
David Akin reported on The Battleground Tuesday night on SunTV that the Liberals are claiming a final membership number of around 1,200, which confirms figures I heard from several camps in Toronto. No debate has been organized as yet, though the candidates have all addressed both the provincial Liberal riding associations meeting, and the federal riding association.
Next stop after a few coffees-with-sources was the Toronto Young New Democrats' conference, where they organized a debate between the Toronto Centre NDP nomination candidates.
I live-tweeted the debate between candidates (L-R) Linda McQuaig, Susan Gapka and Jennifer Hollett, which David Akin kindly re-assembled into a transcript in a post on his blog that you can read here.
After it was over, the Toronto YND met to consider whether to endorse a candidate and if so whom. Very quickly the announcement came that Linda McQuaig was their choice.
Earlier today, Jennifer Hollett received the endorsement of Ottawa Centre M.P. Paul Dewar, with whom she shares a passion for political organizing along the principles taught by Marshall Ganz.
The Toronto Centre NDP earlier scheduled their nomination meeting for Sunday, September 15, the same date since chosen by the Toronto Centre Liberals as well. It seems the Liberals don't want to give the NDP a free and clear day of media coverage in Toronto, though they've yet to finalize any details like a time or location, just the date.
Meanwhile, we've seen the first name come forward for the Conservative nomination in the riding. Lawyer Geoff Pollock in fact first announced a run for what we then thought would be the Mount Pleasant riding, as described in the initial report of the Ontario federal boundary commission, back in November 2012. A video of his speech at that campaign launch is available on his website. In it, Pollock advanced three issues he wants to make progress on as an M.P., mainly tax deductions to promote large families and the private financing of student PSE costs, and a measure to greater recognize the contribution of veterans.
Pollock has attracted an endorsement from Durham M.P. Erin
O'Connor O'Toole and more surprisingly from constitutional scholar Peter Russell, who is not usually thought of as a conservative supporter.
I'm still not seeing anything from the Toronto Centre Greens as yet, but will keep my eyes peeled.
UPDATE: 2011 Green candidate Ellen Michelson did post on her blog late last week that she would not be running again, but that the party was opening up nominations from August 21-28 (i.e., closing yesterday). I guess we'll see the results of that candidate search soon enough. Thanks to a reader for sending the link along.
All quiet on the eastern front, in terms of nomination news anyway. No new Liberal candidate has announced in spite of rumours that new names could surface. The fifth potential New Democrat has not surfaced officially either.
UPDATE: I missed this brief in the Gazette last week, reporting that a second Liberal had indeed entered the race. Lawyer and former actor Joseph Di Iorio announced a bid for the nomination last Thursday. So far I don't see any other coverage of the story, or any web site for him, but will keep an eye out now. I can't find a photograph of Mr. Di Iorio either (hint, hint).
The Bloc leader didn't take up the Conservatives on their challenge to run in the riding, but neither party is making any detectable moves here yet, although Daniel Paillé did "put the federalist party leaders on notice" to butt out of the internal Quebec debate over the proposed charter of values, saying that before its contents were even known, Justin Trudeau had "snubbed and warned" Quebeckers, while Tom Mulcair had "bluntly dictated the limits of acceptability of debate" ahead of time. According to Paillé's statement yesterday,
"Pour le Bloc Québécois, c’est encore une fois la preuve que le fédéralisme, sous le prétexte de la politique multiculturelle canadienne, nie la nation québécoise"
… a position that would have made for a tough run for him in Bourassa. He certainly seems to have overlooked the fact that both Trudeau and Mulcair are Quebeckers themselves, and so presumably would be just an entitled as any other Quebecker to participate in the debate Paillé is advocating take place. Which, predictably, was the point Mulcair and Trudeau made in response to the Bloc leader today.
So to summarize the current nomination status of the major parties in the four ridings:
|Bourassa, QC||4-way contest||Deputy leader appointed candidate||Sept 8 meeting with 2-way contest||–||Leader has ruled out a run for himself|
|Toronto Centre, ON||Sept 15 meeting with 3-way contest||Nominations closed Aug 28||Sept 15 meeting with 3-way contest||1 declared candidate|
|Provencher, MB||–||–||–||Presumed front-runner and likely alternative both out; nominations close Sept 11|
|Brandon-Souris, MB||2-way contest||–||–||3-way contest; nominations close Sept 11|