April 22nd, 2014 | 7 Comments
[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]
Thirty new ridings, plus now
fourteen fifteen retiring MPs and counting, adds up to a lot of open seats in the next election. And without the incumbency advantage, open seats always come with a higher risk of turnover. That means a lot of competitive races to watch in 2015.
[UPDATE: Mike Allen also announced his retirement this past March, so that's fifteen, now. Thanks to a reader for pointing this out, though I would have gotten the post updated earlier had not our power gone out at nearly the same time.]
[RE-UPDATE: Now that our power is back on, I've added a bullet point on Allen's New Brunswick riding, and also added the missing retirement details for Barry Devolin and Irwin Cotler as well.]
In addition to the 12 MPs who have resigned from the House of Commons since the 2011 general election plus the two who died in office (9 of whom have already been replaced in by-elections), a further
14 15 MPs ( 10 11 Conservatives and 2 each NDP and Liberals) have already announced they won't be running for re-election in 2015.
According to the Conservative Party strategy documents obtained by the Toronto Star in February, 11 caucus members did not intend to re-offer in 2015, and 16 others were "unsure". Given that document would have been written after the Ted Menzies and Brian Jean resignations, but before Jim Flaherty's sudden passing, the
10 11 Conservatives listed below plus Jim Flaherty would [UPDATE: more than] account for the 11. I take this to mean that if any of the unsure 16 are to announce their retirements, it may not come until closer to the expected election date in October, 2015.
The five vacant seats awaiting by-elections (remember they are currently vacant, and so are 2003 Representation Order ridings) are:
- Macleod, AB – after Conservative M.P. Ted Menzies resigned to pursue private sector opportunities and help his community of High River recover from last year's floods. The Conservatives and Liberals both have nominated candidates in place, and the last day for the PM to call the by-election (May 17) is fast approaching.
- Fort McMurray-Athabasca, AB – after Conservative M.P. Brian Jean resigned suddenly to pursue other opportunities. The NDP and Liberals both have nominated candidates in place, with the Conservatives set to nomination over a three-day period this coming Thursday to Saturday, laying the groundwork for a call as soon as Sunday.
- Trinity-Spadina, ON – after NDP M.P. Olivia Chow resigned to run for Mayor of Toronto. The NDP has a nominated candidate in place, while the Liberals need a whole separate blogpost to do their candidate situation justice.
- Scarborough-Agincourt, ON – after Liberal M.P. Jim Karygiannis resigned to run for a municipal seat on Toronto City Council. No-one has yet nominated a candidate here, although I'm hearing that Liberal memberships are being signed up at the furious pace you'd expect in the former seat of "Jimmy the K".
- Whitby-Oshawa, ON – after the late and lamented former Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty passed away suddenly of a heart attack the other week in his Ottawa condo. The unexpected timing of this vacancy might see this riding and Scarborough-Agincourt … and perhaps Trinity-Spadina … put off until the early fall before the Ontario municipals on October 28.
But since we're about to spend lots of time looking at the by-election ridings over the next few months, let's look at the retiring MPs' seats now instead, and see what impact their leaving could have, by looking at the new ridings that will wind up being open seats.
British Columbia (5 retiring MPs)
* Conservative M.P. James LUNNEY – (currently Nanaimo-Alberni, BC; announced his retirement on Oct 11, 2013 because of the new riding boundaries) – Lunney's seat is to be split 60:40 between its primary descendant seat, the new more NDP-friendly Courtenay-Alberni riding, and the all-new seat of Nanaimo-Ladysmith. [Open seat is Courtenay-Alberni]
* NDP M.P. Jean CROWDER – (currently Nanaimo-Cowichan, BC; announced her retirement on Jan 23, 2014 in order to spend more time with her family; Crowder has agreed to serve as co-chair of the 2015 NDP national campaign, however) – Her old riding splits almost exactly in half, with slightly more going to its primary descendant, the new Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, and slightly less going to the all-new Nanaimo-Ladysmith seat. [Open seat is Cowichan-Malahat-Langford]
* Conservative M.P. Russ HIEBERT – (currently South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, BC; announced his retirement on Feb 20, 2014, saying he never intended to be a "career politician") – Three-quarter of Hiebert's current seat will live on as the new South Surrey-White Rock, while the Cloverdale portion goes to the all-new Cloverdale-Langley City riding, both of which would be expected based on demographics and historic voting patterns to remain strongly Conservative. [Open seat is South Surrey-White Rock]
* Conservative M.P. Colin MAYES – (currently Okanagan-Shuswap, BC; announced his retirement on Apr 12, 2014, saying that after 10 years as an MP it was time to move on) – There will be very little change to Mayes' riding (certainly no population change) as a result of the redistribution, although it is being renamed *North* Okanagan-Shuswap. It would be expected to stay Conservative, barring some unusual shifts and vote-splits (the last time it didn't was during the free trade election of 1988). [Open seat is North Okanagan-Shuswap]
* NDP M.P. Alex ATAMANENKO – (currently British Columbia-Southern Interior, BC; announced his retirement on October 29, 2013, citing his upcoming 70th birthday in 2015 and saying that was time to retire) – The primary descendent of Atamanenko's current seat is the new somewhat-less-NDP-friendly South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding, with the Nelson area going to the new now-more-NDP-friendly-than-it-was Kootenay-Columbia, and another less populous portion centering on Princeton going to the new Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola. Meanwhile the new west Kootenay seat gains the Penticton area from the old Okanagan-Coquihalla, along with Nakusp and the east side of Upper Arrow Lake from the old Kootenay-Columbia. The NDP has always held a strong core vote in the south interior of BC, but could not win many federal seats after the Liberal vote collapsed completely and folded into the Conservatives. The two Kootenay ridings come into play for the NDP when the old populist "Reform" vote is weak, and the Liberals regain enough strength to cut into the red tory side of the Conservative base. [Open seat is South Okanagan-West Kootenay]
BC Analysis: The net result in BC is five open seats, with two of them book-ending a brand-new seat on Vancouver Island, and another contributing a portion to the brand-new seat in Cloverdale. The fourth is almost unchanged, while the fifth is part of a significant realignment of boundaries in the province's southeast corner. At this stage, I don't expect the Liberals to be a factor in any of them. The upper Vancouver Island seats are not exactly historic Liberal territory, nor are the Kootenay ones. South Surrey and North Okanagan should stay Conservative (the former more strongly than the latter), the NDP would be expected to pick up Courtenay-Alberni (notwithstanding its status as a narrow nominal NDP loss in the 2011 transposition, this is the most ideal configuration of a central Vancouver Island seat for the dippers) and keep Cowichan-Malahat-Langford (close in the transposition, but I don't believe it will be as close with actual candidates when the times comes), while South Okanagan-West Kootenay will be a toss-up between the orange and blue teams, and depend on candidate recruitment and campaign effects. The Christy Clark government will be mid-term by the time the federal election comes around, which is the only NDP upside of not winning the last provincial election.
Alberta (2 retiring MPs)
* Conservative M.P. Laurie HAWN – (currently Edmonton Centre, AB; announced his retirement on March 10, 2014, saying that reaching 68 years of age at the next election meant it was time to move on) – All but approximately one-sixth of Hawn's current riding will carry on as the new Edmonton Centre, with the remainder (reportedly more Conservative-friendly polls) being added to the new Edmonton West riding, while a smidgen of the old Edmonton-Spruce Grove gets added in. [Open seat is Edmonton Centre]
* Conservative M.P. Diane ABLONCZY – (currently Calgary-Nose Hill, AB; announced her retirement on July 4, 2013 ahead of a cabinet shuffle, citing the changing boundaries and her 22 years of elected service by 2015) – Ablonczy's seat is almost exactly bisected into the new Calgary Rocky Ridge riding (its primary descendant by a hair) and the new Calgary Nose Hill, with a small surfeit going to the new Calgary Confederation. Current Conservative Calgary Centre-North M.P. Michelle Rempel has just been acclaimed in the new Nose Hill, while Rocky Ridge remains an open seat, though apparently at least under consideration by current Calgary West Conservative M.P. Rob Anders now that he's lost his bid for the Calgary Signal Hill nomination to Ron Liepert. [Open seat is Calgary Rocky Ridge]
AB Analysis: The net result in Alberta is two open seats: one each in Edmonton (which is being heavily targetted by the opposition, in spite of the early nomination and then sudden withdrawal of the NDP's star candidate Lewis Cardinal) and Calgary (which could still be back-filled by Conservative M.P. Rob Anders after losing his bid for Calgary Signal Hill). While the former riding could change hands in 2015, the latter is less likely than other Calgary seats to do so.
Saskatchewan (4 retiring MPs)
* Conservative M.P. Ray BOUGHEN – (currently Palliser, SK; announced his retirement on Aug 27, 2013, saying a policy of two terms and out makes sense) – The primary successor of Boughen's seat is the new Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan riding where current Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre (RLLC) M.P. Tom Lukiwski plans to run in 2015, leaving the new much more NDP-friendly Regina-Lewvan riding as the open seat. Palliser split 60:40 between the new Moose Jaw seat and Lewvan in the redistribution, while RLLC split 25:75 between those same two seats. The NDP has just unfrozen nominations in Saskatchewan, and economist Erin Weir recently announced a bid to challenge Regina-based lawyer and 2011 Palliser candidate Noah Evanchuk for the Regina-Lewvan nomination. The meeting is expected to be held sometime in June, while the Liberals are expecting to nominate here over the summer. To date I have not seen a Conservative name in circulation for the Lewvan nomination. [Open seat (domino effect) is Regina-Lewvan]
* Conservative M.P. Maurice VELLACOTT – (currently Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, SK; announced his retirement on Jun 25, 2013, citing a variety of reasons including a desire to spend more time at home with his family after 19 years of elected office) – Here again, with Vellacott out of the running, the primary descendant of his current seat is the new Humboldt-Warman-Martensville-Rosetown which circles Saskatoon, and that's where the current Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar Conservative MP Kelly Block has finally decided to run, leaving the new Saskatoon West as the open seat and a nominal NDP win. [Open seat (domino effect) is Saskatoon West]
* Conservative M.P. Garry BREITKREUZ – (currently Yorkton-Melville, SK; announced his retirement on Apr 11, 2014, saying it was time to spend more time with his family) – This is one of the ridings least touched by the redistribution in Saskatchewan, and is considered a safe Conservative seat since Lorne Nystrom lost it for the NDP to then-Reform Party candidate Breitkreuz in 1993. Before then it was part of the pro-Canadian Wheat Board "red square" of rural ridings, but grain marketing and transportation seem to have taken a back seat to gun registration and natural resources as vote-determining issues in rural Saskatchewan. Until that changes, voting patterns are unlikely to change here. [Open seat is the new Yorkton-Melville]
* Conservative M.P. Ed KOMARNICKI – (currently Souris-Moose Mountain, SK; announced his retirement early on Feb 28, 2013, as he anticipated heavy competition for the nomination to replace him) – Also largely untouched by the redistribution, and will be Conservative until the cows (and all other livestock) come home. Not surprisingly, a fifth candidate has just announced a bid for the Conservative nomination here, which is expected to come to a conclusion in the fall of this year. [Open seat is the new Souris-Moose Mountain]
SK Analysis: The net result in Saskatchewan is four open seats, two of which should easily stay with the governing Conservatives and two of which seem headed to the opposition NDP. A January 2014 story from CP's Jennifer Ditchburn, however, suggested Conservative insiders don't rule out future retirement announcements from (Saskatoon) Blackstrap MP Lynne Yelich and Battlefords-Lloydminster MP Gerry Ritz, although the latter was on Dimitri Soudas' list of MPs recommended for an early nomination meeting in February.
Ontario and Quebec (3 retiring MPs)
* Conservative M.P. Barry DEVOLIN – (currently Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, ON; announced his retirement to his riding association on Nov 13, 2013, after serving three terms) – All but 6% of Devolin's current riding will live on under the same name (with the rest added to neighbouring Peterborough), and the new and old ridings are equally strong Conservative seats. [Open seat is the new Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock]
* Liberal M.P. Irwin COTLER – (currently Mount Royal, QC; announced his retirement on Feb 5, 2014, citing a desire to spend more time with his family) – While the Conservatives have longed for a chances at this seat, given its significant Jewish profile, their candidate from the last election Saulie Zajdel was caught in the net of the Montreal corruption investigation last summer. The riding should remain a strong Liberal seat, given the resurgent support of Quebec anglophones and allophones for the Trudeau Liberal party, and the new version is virtually unchanged from the boundaries Cotler currently represents. [Open seat is the new Mont-Royal]
* NDP-turned-Liberal M.P. Lise ST-DENIS – (currently Saint Maurice–Champlain, QC; a Liberal party official told the Daniel Leblanc of the Globe & Mail on Jan 24, 2014 that she "was not coming back") – The once-and-again seat of former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien, this riding went Conservative for a term in 1988 after Chrétien resigned the first time, and then Bloc for three terms after he retired, before getting swept up in the orange wave of 2011. Even St-Denis herself seemed to credit Jack Layton for her win, when she crossed the floor to the Liberals after reportedly refusing the NDP's demands she move into the riding. Her treatments for non-Hodgkin lymphoma no doubt also played into her desire to stay in the Montreal area and leave politics. [Open seat is the new Saint Maurice--Champlain]
Central Canada Analysis: The net result in Ontario and Québec will likely be the status quo, with Devolin's seat staying Conservative, Cotler's seat staying Liberal, and Saint Maurice–Champlain seeming likely to return to the NDP based on the expectation of a further BQ-to-NDP vote shift.
[UPDATE: Mike Allen is a late edition to this post. Thanks to a reader for pointing out his retirement announcement to us.]
Atlantic (1 retiring MP)
* Conservative MP Mike ALLEN – (currently Tobique – Mactaquac, NB; announced his retirement on Mar 19, 2013, saying it was time to pursue other opportunities that would allow him to be home more) – The riding is another one barely touched by redistribution, and has nearly always voted Conservative, save for the days when the party split into Reform and PC wings allowing the Liberals up the middle. It certainly would be expected to stay that way now. [Open seat is the new Tobique-Mactaquac]
In addition to the open seats created by the 30 new ridings and associated incumbent MP shifts that we looked at last time, the
14 15 ridings which will wind up as open seats as a result of MP retirements also offer some opportunities for opposition pick-ups at the governing Conservatives' expense, including 2 in Saskatchewan, 1 in Edmonton, 1 on Vancouver Island, and a couple of possible Conservative pickups from the opposition.
Remember, though, that to win a majority, the Conservatives have to keep every seat they currently have, and pick up at least another 8-10 of the 30 new seats being added to the Commons. This is looking like a harder and harder task.
In coming blogposts, we'll look at the by-election riding nominations, party nomination counts for the next general election, and then start to catch up on all the rest of the nomination news.