UPDATED: By-election candidates now emerging in Manitoba
[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]
What a difference a long weekend makes.
Near the end of last week, not a single candidate had announced in Provencher, MB and there were no Liberals to be found in either Manitoba seat.
By Tuesday morning, we had candidate announcements from Liberals seeking the nomination in both Brandon-Souris, MB and Provencher, MB, and a prospective Provencher Conservative candidate with heavy backing for the nomination.
Before jumping into all the nomination news, though, we should note that while Merv Tweed's resignation has been received and noted by the House of Commons as taking effect on August 31, 2013 (see, for example, his profile on the Parliamentary website, although the Current Party standings page hasn't caught up), notice of that resignation has not yet been received by the Chief Electoral Officer from the Speaker of the House of Commons, though Tim Naumetz is reporting in the Hill Times that it left the Speaker's Office late Tuesday.
UPDATE: The Chief Electoral Officer's news release late this morning indicates that he did indeed receive the notification on Tuesday, September 3, so Monday, October 21 is indeed the first E-Day available for calling all four by-elections simultaneously.
If the Chief Electoral Officer did not receive notice by the end of Wednesday, that would push the first available election day for all four ridings to be called together from Monday, October 21 to Monday, October 28, putting it six days before the Montréal municipal elections on Sunday, November 3. We should know Thursday either way.
Here's the latest rundown, riding by riding, working west to east.
With an active and competitive race underway for the Conservative nomination, and in spite of former Progressive Conservative M.P. Inky Mark's fears that such would not be possible, we are a week away from the close of nominations and membership cut-off the Conservative Party set for September 11 at 5PM local time. Membership costs $15. Candidates Chris Kennedy and Len Isleifson have both added websites, and all three candidates are making the rounds and hosting events. Also, Isleifson was just elected Deputy Mayor of Brandon on Tuesday, according to an update on his municipal Facebook page.
|Chris KENNEDY||Tweed's former EA, Souris-born||@ChrisKennedy2|
|Len ISLEIFSON||Brandon Ward 9 councillor, Brandon-raised||@LenIsleifson||Profile, Page|
|Larry MAGUIRE||Arthur-Virden MLA, Souris-born, lives in Virden||@LarryMaguire4MP||Page|
Meanwhile, both candidates for the NDP nomination have just now had campaign launches, Cory Szczepanski on August 30, and John Bouché two days earlier. No date has been set for that nomination meeting as yet. Neither campaign has really broken out online yet, either.
|Cory SZCZEPANSKI||Welder, Labour Council pres (USWA), lives in Wawanesa||@Corythewelder||Profile|
|John BOUCHÉ||Op. Eng, Union Staff rep (Teamsters), Thompson MB-born, ran 2008-11||Profile|
New to the scene, but not to Brandon, is media executive Rolf Dinsdale, who recently moved back from Toronto to the home of his Progressive Conservative father's House of Commons seat, in order to run for the Liberal nomination. Dinsdale's entry into the race will be interesting to follow, given his local roots, but also his distance from them for most of his life to date (though he re-assured the NDP riding president on Twitter that he had returned to Brandon "for good"). It also created an urgent vacancy in a certain punk rock formation, whose title has (of course) been acryonym'ed to "SFH" in Dinsdale's Wikipedia entry, but the leader of that particular band can always be counted on for plenty of sound and fury politically, so I'm sure the campaign will get plenty of attention in Ottawa and Toronto circles over the coming weeks.
Still the strength of Dinsdale's resumé speaks well for the Liberals' ability to recruit good candidates. And let's remember that the last time the Liberals won an upset in a federal by-election in Manitoba, it was on the strength of both the candidate and his local connections. Brandon–Souris is the only rural federal Conservative riding in the province never to have elected a Reform Party or Canadian Alliance MP (and interestingly Conservative nomination candidate Larry Maguire himself ran for the PCs here back in 1993). With the Liberals clearly running a candidate designed to appeal to former Progressive Conservative voters, even if his local connections were a bit distant in time, this kind of riding would be the perfect incubator to test that approach. Regardless, they placed fourth in the riding behind the Greens last time, so there's little to lose in the expectations game. I'll be interested to see which side of the spectrum any Liberal resurgence on the prairies cuts into more.
|Rolf DINSDALE||Media exec (Walrus, Facebook, Blue Ant Media), political family from Brandon||@RolfDinsdale||Profile, Page|
Still no candidate news from the Green front, though given Dinsdale's announcement we can expect to hear calls from the third-place Greens for the second-place NDP to drop out in favour of the fourth-place Liberals in 3, 2, 1 …
Another party I'll be watching for candidacies in the rural Manitoba seats is the Christian Heritage Party, though they performed better in Provencher than Brandon–Souris, MB in 2008, and their Brandon riding association was subsequently deregistered in 2010, with no candidate contesting the 2011 here election at all.
No matter what the political news in Brandon this week, however, nothing could top the re-introduction of return air service from Brandon to Calgary, whose launch on Tuesday was attended and celebrated by every political leader and aspirant in town. Bon voyage, Brandon!
When I mused late last week on Twitter about no candidate yet presenting for Provencher, it seems I had missed the announcement of now ex-riding president Terry Hayward for the Liberal nomination. Hayward, who was born in Brandon, and did a stint as the head of the Farm Products Council of Canada, is now farming in Anola, and carried his party's banner in 2011. He stepped down as federal riding president earlier last week in order to run, though he tells SteinbachOnline.com that there may yet be another candidate joining him in the race.
|Terry HAYWARD||Retired public servant, ex-farm org pres, lives in Anola||@TerryHaywardMB||Profile|
But the more significant entry into the fray came this past Tuesday, when Steinbach Credit Union president and president of Diamond Construction, Ted Falk announced a well-backed bid for the Conservative nomination, after former Vic Toews aide Mike Cancade also stepped aside. Falk who has long nursed an interest in running federally, he says, was able to marshall endorsements from two MLAs, including Kelvin Goertzen who many considered Toews' most likely successor, as well as Steinbach deputy mayor and riding vice-president Michael Zwaagstra. People who know the terrain now consider him the one to beat in the Conservative field, and indeed it would be hard to see someone mount a competitive race against him with a week to go before nominations close, but never say never.
|Ted FALK||Business owner, credit union pres||Profile|
Nothing yet from the NDP, Greens, or Christian Heritage Party.
Whoever runs, the by-election should provide voters in this southeastern Manitoba riding with a more leisurely consideration of their political options. The last time they went to the polls in spring 2011 election, most of the riding was coping with extreme flood conditions, as this CTV Winnipeg report from the time reminds us.
Toronto Centre, ON
Those of us who are going to try and cover both the NDP and Liberal nomination meetings on Sunday, September 15 now have our schedule.
The Liberals have set their nomination meeting for 11 AM to 5 PM in the Toronto Reference Library ("The Salon" room), with speeches after the call to order at 11 AM, followed by voting from 12 noon to 5 PM, and then presumably the announcement of a winner. I gather the Liberals vote by preferential ballot, so there will only be one count. The membership cut-off was August 20.
|Todd ROSS||Former Smitherman aide||@tejross||Page|
|Diana BURKE||Former IT exec at RBC, Jamaican emigré||@TeamDianaBurke||Page|
|Chrystia FREELAND||Journalist, editor, Alberta-born Rhodes scholar||@cafreeland||Page|
Meanwhile the NDP had already booked their nomination meeting for the same day, in the Metro YMCA. Registration will start at 2 PM with a 2:30 PM call to order, the candidates will speak, and eligible members will likely - if precedent serves – vote in a series of ballots with the bottom candidate falling off until the successful candidate has won a majority of votes cast in a given ballot (though that procedure won't be confirmed until Monday). With three candidates now in the race (and any others would have until this Friday to be vetted and file nomination papers), that means a maximum of two ballots. Their membership cut-off was 30 days earlier, so August 16.
|Jennifer HOLLETT||Former Much VJ, CBC/CTV journo, Harvard MPA||@JenniferHollett||Profile|
|Linda McQUAIG||Toronto Star columnist, author||@LindaMcQuaig||Page|
|Susan GAPKA||Housing and trans rights LBGTT activist||@SusanGapka||Profile|
So, the Liberals will be on Yonge Street, a block and a half north of Bloor, while the NDP will be on Grosvenor Street, just off Yonge, about 8 blocks south of Bloor, and two blocks south of Wellesley. We'll probably have to start in the north and listen to the Liberal speeches, then make our way down to the NDP meeting, hear their speeches and wait for the results of at most two ballots, and then finally traipse back up above Bloor to learn who the Liberal winner was. If someone could advance this itinerary for me, to get the approximate timing, and possibly scout out any bars selling Beau's All Natural along the way, I'd sure be grateful. :-)
This schedule also means that the last hour or so of voting in the Liberal race will be done with the knowledge of who their NDP competitor will be, but the speeches the Liberal candidates have to give earlier in the day, won't. Have fun gaming that one out if you're a Liberal, because at this stage of the game, I have no idea who could be leading in the very competitive Dipper race!
In advance of their nomination meeting, the Toronto Centre NDP riding association has also organized a Pre-Nomination All-Candidates Meet and Greet on Wednesday, September 11, the day after the U of T NDP club's all-candidates meet and greet at the Artful Dodger. To the best of my knowledge, on the other hand, no all-candidates debate has been organized for the Toronto Centre Liberal candidates, although they already had the chance to address the federal and provincial ridings association meetings in August. Given that Parliament won't resume for a month or so, organizing all-candidates debates in some of these contested nomination races would seem to be a useful thing for one or more of the political TV shows to fill airtime with (hint, hint).
I haven't seen any other candidates join lawyer Geoff Pollock in the Conservative nomination race but, according to his Twitter feed, he's already been out canvassing for lawn signs already in Rosedale, Moore Park and Bennington Heights, and rubbing shoulders with a few friends and mucky-muks on the Toronto summer CPC barbecue circuit.
|Geoff POLLOCK||Lawyer, Churchill devoté||@geoffpollock||Profile|
As mentioned in an update to my last post, the Green Party declared electoral urgency in this riding on August 21, and opened nominations until Wednesday August 28, given that 2011 candidate Ellen Michelson is not running again. I haven't seen anything about the outcome of this candidate search, though I did notice while looking around for it that Liberal nomination candidate Todd Ross has bought the Google Search terms "Toronto Centre Greens", cheeky thing.
Pirate Party leader Travis McCrea who has declared his intention to run here hasn't been very active on the campaign trail, but his Twitter feed does report on a rather unfortunate case of mistaken identity at the Buffalo border crossing over the weekend, to wit: the Pirate Party are not terrorists. McCrea also seems to be having difficulties with Elections Canada software, he tweets, because it is written only for Microsoft products. #first_world_problems
As we learned last week, a second Liberal has entered the race in advance of this coming Sunday's nomination meeting. Lawyer Joseph A. Di Iorio will be taking on former Viau MNA Emmanuel Dubourg, starting at 2PM in the Salle Costa del Mare on Amos St, just south of the boulevard that gives this riding its name. Di Iorio is a lawyer who practices in both Ville-St-Laurent in greater Montreal and Vanier in Ottawa. I don't know if it's a pro forma candidacy, or just an old school one, but Mr. Di Iorio does not seem to have any presence online that I can find (hence, no photo). Still he represents a significant part of the Montréal-Nord community which has been overlooked in candidacies to this point, and that's the large number of Italian-canadians who live there.
I also picked up on another missing piece of the puzzle in understanding Emmanuel Dubourg's possible interest in leaving provincial politics for the federal scene: namely that he had backed Raymond Bachand in his unsuccessful leadership bid against Philippe Couillard to replace Jean Charest as the head of the provincial Liberals. With Bachand not only losing that race, but now resigning his provincial seat, Dubourg's sights may have been set elsewhere. TVA has some video footage of an interview with Dubourg up on their site here.
|Emmanuel DUBOURG||Former Viau MNA, Haitian emigré||Profile|
|Joseph A. DI IORIO||Lawyer practising in QC and ON|
Anyways, I'll be live-tweeting the Bourassa Liberal nomination meeting on Sunday. Pop by and say hi if you see me there.
The NDP has not set its nomination meeting date in the riding as yet, but the field seems to have settled in at the four candidates already announced: PSAC regional vice-president Larry Rousseau, PSAC staff rep Mario LeClerc, 2011 candidate Julie Demers, and arts lawyer and singer Stéphane Moraille. While party headquarters is staying neutral on the outcome, it has been noticed in more than one quarter that Moraille's campaign is being supported by several Quebec caucus members (for example Longeuil-Pierre Boucher M.P. Pierre Nantel, Alfred-Pellan M.P. Rosane Doré Lefebvre and Honore-Mercier M.P. Paulina Ayala appeared at her campaign launch), and has the help of some of the more experienced organizers within the party's Quebec wing (who were watching leader Tom Mulcair's schedule and arranged for her to "run into him" during his visit to the Montreal Market with Rosemont-La Petite Patrie M.P. Alexandre Boulerice, in order to get a prized photograph that now graces her Facebook page). Mulcair is being careful, because at least three of the candidates are in a position to win the nomination based on new sign-ups in this until-now largely unorganized riding for the NDP, but he did allow himself one comment to the effect that Moraille was an "extraordinary candidate".
|Larry ROUSSEAU||PSAC Reg VP, long-time StatsCan emp||@larryrousseau||Profile, Page|
|Mario LECLERC||PSAC Staff Rep||@007Leclerc||Profile|
|Stéphane MORAILLE||Lawyer, musician/singer||@S_Moraille||Profile, Page|
|Julie DEMERS||2011 NDP candidate in Bourassa||@TweetJewels||Profile|
But the party is also starting to hint at its increasing resolve to run competitively in the riding, telling Joël-Denis Bellevance of La Presse the other day that they were "determined" to try and win the seat. Two developments make that not entirely far-fetched: one is the well-trodden story which Bellevance also mentions about Dubourg and the MNA severance, though the Liberal candidate would hardly be alone in accepting it and far less fuss was made about severance when Bachand stepped down a week later.
The other is the fact that we have still not heard anything about a Bloc Québécois candidacy in this riding, and I've been looking hard. Leader Daniel Paillé has been spending a lot of his time in the Saguenay, trying to consolidate the Bloc's hold on NDP-turned-BQ M.P. Claude Patry's seat. For that matter, this could be why Conservative Quebec political minister Denis Lebel, from neighbouring Roberval, was twitting Paillé about running in Bourassa – to get him out of the Saguenay. The Bloc leader is also celebrating the 29th anniversary of M.P. Louis Plamondon's election to the House of Commons, and the first anniversary of the election of the PQ government.
The Bloc got 16% of the vote here in the last election, and claimed 23% of the Montreal RMR vote intentions in the most recent Leger poll (Aug 29-30, n=369 for the Montreal sub-sample). With this riding's demographics, they can't expect to win it (least of all with the Charter of Values issue swirling around), but without a strong enough candidate, they could have trouble holding onto that actual vote-share in a competitive by-election, thus risking locking themselves in at a lower level of vote intentions down the road. And if most of what they lost went to the NDP rather than the Liberals, that's the path to win for the NDP. On the other hand, the Bloc could do worse than wait for the outcome of the NDP race, and pick a candidate based on appealing to whichever group of voters might have felt less well represented afterwards.
Meanwhile, Green Party deputy leader Georges Laraque as the only officially designated party by-election candidate in Bourassa so far, has his campaign in full swing, and is one of the featured content panels on the federal party's main website. I'm discounting his chances, but one thing the Green Party did very well in Victoria was to hone a very strong by-election frame for themselves, which Laraque is repeating in every interview: namely that it's just a by-election and won't change anything about the government, but by voting Green you can safely send a message. It's a great message for a smaller party, but also depends on people's assessment of the messenger, which is where I'm not really sold on his capacity for growth yet.
|Georges LARAQUE||Former NHL player, Deputy Green leader||@GeorgesLaraque||Page|
Also, mums the word from the Conservatives on any candidate plans here as well.