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Posts Tagged ‘Durham’

UPDATED: November 26 By-elections: The Full Rundown

October 21st, 2012 | 19 Comments

[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]

The Prime Minister has called three federal by-elections for November 26 in the vacant ridings of Durham, ON, Calgary Centre, AB, and Victoria, BC.

The call came while NDP leader Tom Mulcair was addressing his party's federal council in Ottawa, with nominated Victoria NDP candidate Murray Rankin in the front row of the audience. Mulcair and Rankin addressed the media afterwards, telling them that the party planned to accelerate its nomination timelines in the other two ridings. A three-way contested nomination had been scheduled for next Saturday October 27 in Calgary Centre, while another two-way contest was scheduled for Monday October 30 in Durham.

The call also came a day after the governing Conservatives nominated their remaining candidate, Vancouver Island Technology Park president Dale Gann, in Victoria riding. Gann was acclaimed yesterday, according to a brief on the Victoria Times-Colonist's website, though hopefully we'll get more coverage of that meeting later on.

Most interestingly, of course, the by-elections were called *before* the Supreme Court released its ruling on the Etobicoke Centre case, leading to much wild speculation on Twitter. I'm actually in the middle of writing a long contrarian analysis of that case, but got sidetracked by covering Rankin's speech this morning, and then the by-election call, so bear with me.

Here's what we know about the state of the race in each riding, moving from east to west:

Durham, ON

Conservative candidate Erin O'Toole was out at a church pancake breakfast with his phone off, and missed a few calls this morning he says, one of which was advising him of the official launch of the campaign. O'Toole is a lawyer, and the son of the current PC member of the Ontario provincial parliament for the same riding. He was acclaimed back on August 24, after former Conservative M.P. Bev Oda announced her resignation effective July 31, 2012, and after two other nomination contestants (Chris Topple and Thomas Coughlan) withdrew from the race. He's had the usual round of ministerial visits, and looks to have a well-developed campaign in place.

The Liberals re-appointed their 2011 general election candidate, former vice-president and chief operating officer of the Toronto Board of Trade Grant Humes, at the beginning of this month (October 1). No other candidates seemed to be under consideration. Humes' candidacy was supported by a visit from Interim Leader Bob Rae, and the riding association has been gearing up since August 19 according to their website, though his own site is not up yet and he doesn't have a politician's "page" on Facebook.

The Green Party has apparently said that it will not run a candidate in Durham, but I haven't seen that confirmed anywhere online as yet. According to their riding association's website, they were ramping up for the by-election as of two days after the announcement of Oda's resignation, but there hasn't been any activity on the site since then.

UPDATE: The Durham Greens website has now been updated to report that they will be running a candidate (but no name as yet).

UPDATE: The Christian Heritage Party does have candidate Andrew Moriarity in place, however.

Activity by the NDP in the riding was lower profile until just this past week, when suddenly the former mayor of Brock Township (also a former Durham MPP) Larry O'Connor announced on Twitter that he would be seeking the party's nomination. O'Connor also recently ran to be the vice-chair of the Métis Nation of Ontario, and traces his ancestry back to the community of Blind River. He is being contested by Kim King of Port Perry, who recently retired as a provincial probation and parole officer in Uxbridge, according to the Uxbridge Standard. The original nomination meeting date of October 30 is now apparently being moved up.

UPDATE: The NDP nomination meeting has now been moved up to October 23.

Interest in the nominations alone would tend to suggest the riding will remain a two-way Conservative-NDP contest, though for the NDP they will be taking the opportunity to build a better organization in the riding than they could have counted on before. Their 21% vote-share and 2nd place standing in last year's general election would have come in the absence of really any kind of on-the-ground campaign, so we'll see what kind of difference a ground game and spending more than 3% of the limit makes when not facing a government incumbent.

Calgary Centre, AB

Well-known political commentator, communications consultant and former managing editor of the Calgary Herald, Joan Crockatt, defeated a large slate of opponents to win the Conservative nomination on the fourth ballot last August 24 in this traditionally Conservative seat, and will almost certainly be the only woman from a major political party contesting any of the three by-elections.

Although she's pro-choice and a supporter of equal marriage, Crockatt's candidacy otherwise is considered a win for the more conservative Wild Rose side of the movement in Alberta over their red tory cousins, leading some to believe that there could be an opening for a "progressive" candidate to win the riding, presuming the "progressive" forces could be somehow combined. Enter the registered third party "1 Calgary Centre", founded by Naheed Nenshi's former pollster Brian F. Singh and some other named and unnamed backers. Alberta being Alberta and Calgary being Calgary, "progressive" now means everything to the left of Joan Crockatt, with even the Progressive Conservative Canadian candidate, Ben Christensen – a backer of Calgary's occupy movement last year – participating in yesterday's 1 Calgary Centre "unconference" beauty contest of the non-Joan Crockatt candidates.

The only nominated candidate or nomination candidate to Ms. Crockatt's left not to participate in yesterday's 1 Calgary Centre forum was Liberal Harvey Locke, a former provincial Alberta Liberal party president and former city councillor. [UPDATE: no, that's my memory playing tricks with me]. Locke and his team opted not to participate in that conference in favour of hosting a visit from putative federal Liberal leadership contender and party House Leader Marc Garneau, but then tweeted frequently about how very very busy they were, perhaps regretting the decision later in the day. They are running as the historic alternative, with Locke's first leaflet emphasizing his record as a "progressive entrepreneur", who is "fiscally responsible, socially progressive, and environmentally responsible". His team was dropping flyers across the riding yesterday afternoon.

At least some people believe that 1 Calgary Centre was set up to try and boost the chances of the Green Party's candidate, essayist and urban renewal guru Chris Turner, though the group vigourously denies that. Turner was acclaimed by his party, with leader Elizabeth May in attendance, last month on September 12, and the Greens are promising a fully-funded campaign, based on momentum and what they call a "once-in-a-generation opportunity to unite our voices and vote for real leadership".

Meanwhile the NDP, which had been playing its cards close to its chest in the riding with a number of low-profile nomination contestants testing the waters, now appears to have recruited a candidate that has some party stalwarts in the province pretty excited. "Vibrant Calgary" executive director Dan Meades, originally from St. John's, Newfoundland and known for his work fighting poverty and as a advocate for the city's poorest citizens, will join diesel engineer Brian Malkinson and armed forces officer Matthew McMillan in the nomination race (social media expert Scott H. Payne having already withdrawn in Meades' favour), and all three candidates attended yesterday's morning discussions at the 1 Calgary Centre conference, and joined Turner and Christensen in the afternoon candidates' panel. The party had scheduled its nomination meeting for next Saturday October 27, but is now in the process of moving that up.

UPDATE: The NDP nomination meeting was rescheduled to October 23.

If Meades is nominated, that will make two by-election candidates with TEDx talks under their belt: Chris Turner's talk on "The Great Leap Sideways" can be found here, while Meades talks about "Time to End Poverty" here and "Challenging Malignant Indifference" here.

Given the calibre of the candidates who have come forward, if Calgary does decide to look elsewhere than the favoured Conservatives, they will have a difficult choice. On the other hand, betting against a Conservative win here would put you at odds with decades of history. The race for second place should keep pollsters and pundits busy enough, and I suspect we'll see a lot of riding polls early on, trying to game the race before it's started and force the hand of one party or another.

Victoria, BC

It now seems that the acclamation of Conservative candidate Dale Gann was the remaining precondition for the Prime Minister to call the three outstanding by-elections. Gann assumed the post after two other competitors demurred, including BC lobbyist Mike Geoghegan and former candidate Patrick Hunt. He has a very interesting background in promoting, financing and facilitating investment in high tech businesses in the south Island, and is the first Conservative candidate I've seen in a while to refer to his female spouse as his "partner". Cool.

Gann is joining a very strong slate of candidates from the other parties, starting with U Vic law prof Donald Galloway who assumed the Green nomination after his opponent won the tied contest on a coin-toss and then withdrew, and then economist and one-time Toronto-area NDP candidate Paul Summerville who was acclaimed as the Liberal candidate, and finally the NDP's Murray Rankin, an environmental and aboriginal law expert with many high-profile public roles in the province's recent history, who won a four-way contested nomination last weekend and was in Ottawa for meetings when the by-elections were called.

Ironically, every one of the candidates has a relationship with the University of Victoria, the latter three being professors at one time or another, while Mr. Gann is president of the U-Vic-affiliated Vancouver Island Technology Park and Marine Technology Centre.

Again, a very strong slate, but a campaign whose contest Rankin told members of the national press gallery earlier today would probably wind up being a two-way race between himself and the Conservative candidate, and I'd have to agree with him on that at this stage of the game.


Of course, we can't end this post without noting that the Prime Minister called the by-elections before the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on the Etobicoke Centre case. There were some rumours circulating on Twitter that there had been a leak of the court's ruling, to the effect that they upheld the lower court but on a split decision. I'd have to think a leak of a Supreme Court ruling would be unprecedented and very big news indeed. Unfortunately I can't find any other evidence for this assertion.

My own feeling for some time has been that the more time the court took to consider its ruling, the less likely it was to uphold the lower court ruling. Upholding the lower court ruling meaning overturning the election, of course, while overturning the lower court implies sustaining the election result, in case you weren't already confused enough.

Suppose the court did uphold the lower court ruling to declare the election null and void on Thursday, though. What would that do to the by-election clock?

Well, under the Parliament of Canada act, the Speaker of the House of Commons would be notified of the vacancy, and would have to notify the Chief Electoral Officer. Assuming that all happened the same day as the ruling came down, 11 days later (November 5) would be the first day the PM could call a by-election (putting E-Day on Monday, December 17 or after), and 180 days later (April 23, 2013) would be the last day it could be called – for a voting day of Monday, June 3 or after.

Who knows how many other by-elections there might be to call by that time: for example, if Conservative M.P. Peter Penashue's expense ceiling difficulties became serious, Labrador, NL might open up, or if Conservative M.P. Keith Ashfield's health worsened (here's hoping not, of course) Fredericton, NB might become vacant, or if Liberal M.P. Denis Coderre runs – as expected – for mayor of Montreal and/or Olivia Chow succumbs to the not-so-subtle media campaign to take on Rob Ford, we might also see Bourassa, QC and Trinity-Spadina, ON in play.

But all of that is a world away. Today we start the 36 day countdown to three known by-elections, and Pundits' Guide is the place to be if you want the most in-depth coverage of all three.

Quick By-election Update

October 18th, 2012 | 0 Comments

A bit of news from here and there on the by-election trail.

  • Calgary Centre, AB – The NDP has now set a date for its nomination meeting – Saturday, October 27. Running so far are former Calgary Northwest provincial candidate and diesel engineer Brian Malkinson, young party activist Matthew McMillan, and social media expert Scott H. Payne. The party usually closes nominations seven days prior to a nomination meeting, so we should know by Saturday if that's the entire list. Already in place are Conservative candidate Joan Crockatt, Green candidate Chris Turner, and Liberal candidate Harvey Locke.
  • Durham, ON – The NDP has also reportedly set a date for its nomination meeting here, which I'm picking up as October 30. Meanwhile, the Christian Heritage Party announced via the Scugog Standard that their 2011 candidate Andrew Moriarity would be making a return appearance for the by-election. I've checked the websites of the CHP, Libertarians, and Pirate Party and don't see any other by-election activity though.
  • Victoria, BC – In an article about the NDP nomination race that selected Murray Rankin last weekend, the Victoria Times-Colonist reported that the Conservative nomination was set for Saturday October 20 and that former candidate Patrick Hunt would run again. But the website actually spoke with Hunt, and confirmed he was *not* running. With BC Lobbyist Mike Geoghegan already out of the running as well. I guess this leaves Dale Gann (who is the president of the Vancouver Island Technology Park) or perhaps there will be some new names. Meanwhile, Vaughn Palmer draws on his long memory for BC political history to fill us in on Murray Rankin.

Still no word from the Supreme Court on when the Etobicoke Centre ruling is coming.

At this stage, therefore, most people are assuming that the by-election call will come either this weekend or next weekend, for either Monday, November 26 or Monday, December 3.

Pundits’ Guide now in Byelection Mode

October 15th, 2012 | 1 Comment

Pending the expected call of at least three by-elections next month, I've moved the website into by-election mode.

Fall 2012 By-elections

A summary table appears on the main index page, with links to all the resources for by-election ridings, and a separate page appears for the still un-dated electoral event.

As you can see, the Liberals have nominated candidates in all three ridings now, while the Conservatives have nominated in two with a third nomination scheduled for Victoria riding on October 20, which will see Dale Gann run against former candidate Patrick Hunt. BC Lobbyist Mike Geoghegan has withdrawn from the race as of Sunday morning. The Victoria NDP nominated lawyer Murray Rankin Sunday afternoon, as he won two-thirds of all 535 votes cast on the first ballot. They also have a nomination race underway in Calgary Centre, as reported last time, but no meeting date as yet. The Green Party has two candidates in place. Neither the NDP nor the Greens have a candidate in Durham riding yet, that I can tell.

One disturbing trend is that so far there has only been one woman nominated by any party in any of these ridings, Joan Crockatt in Calgary Centre. And that's out of nine nominations.

Obviously Etobicoke Centre has been omitted from the list of ridings included in these by-elections until the Supreme Court rulings on the appeal, but I am tracking it on the main page.

All candidates and their websites if any have now been entered into the database and appear on the riding pages for each seat as well. It also looks like I need to check for any updates to the candidate and EDA financial returns from last year, especially for Victoria which is missing a few EDA returns in my database.

I plan to update the social media aggregator for the current set of by-election ridings as well, and then write regular wraps on how the campaigns are going. If you live in one of the ridings, or are involved with one of the campaigns, please drop us a note or comment to pass along how it's going out there.

Re-Re-UPDATED: Will the snow fly before by-elections can be held?

October 12th, 2012 | 13 Comments

Snow in Calgary Centre, October 11, 2012

[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]

Time is running out for a by-election call in three open seats – and possibly a fourth depending on the Supreme Court – if the vote is to be held before the Christmas break of the House of Commons.

[UPDATE: See below for a few additions and one correction, thanks to a few alert and well-informed readers.]

[Re-UPDATE: The Ryan Cleary event listed below has been cancelled due to a family emergency.]

[Further UPDATE: Donald Galloway is a professor of law, especially refugee law, and his opponent's name is spelled Moat, not Moats.]

[Final UPDATE: The Saturday Victoria Times-Colonist is reporting that the Conservative nomination is scheduled for next Saturday, October 20, but only reports Patrick Hunt's name as a potential candidate. This would give a potential by-election date of November 26, or December 3, 10, or 17.]

In the first of those seats to become vacant, Calgary Centre, AB, a by-election must be called by Tuesday, December 4th. But given the minimum 36-day writ period ending on a Monday (or a Tuesday if the Monday is a statuatory holiday), that would put E-day on or after Monday, January 14 — which is pretty cold in Calgary I'm reliably told. In fact the city saw its first overnight snowfall on Thursday morning, some of which had still not melted by mid-afternoon.

Walking that deadline backwards, we get the following dates:

Last day to call First Monday to hold
Sunday, October 7 November 12, 2012
Sunday, October 14 November 19, 2012
Sunday, October 21 November 26, 2012
Sunday, October 28 December 3, 2012
Sunday, November 4 December 10, 2012
Sunday, November 11 December 17, 2012
Sunday, November 18 December 24, 2012
Sunday, November 25 December 31, 2012
Sunday, December 2 January 7, 2013
Tuesday, December 4 January 14, 2013

While I think we can safely rule out Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, some other dates and variables may factor into the Prime Minister's decision about timing, apart from the Calgary Centre deadline and waiting for the Supreme Court ruling.

  • Remembrance Day – I'm not completely sure what impact this could be perceived to have, but am sure its possible ramifications both pro and con would have been considered by the Conservatives, though if anything they probably would have liked people to vote the day afterwards, an option that is out of reach now.
  • The adjournment of the House of Commons – The chamber is set to adjourn on Friday December 14 for the holiday break, and scheduled to return on Monday, January 28 unless prorogued in the meantime. It's not that the votes of the new MPs would change the balance of power in the Commons, but unless a by-election is called soon, they won't be able to take their seats until late January. And much later than the middle of December probably means a writ period that would span the Christmas holidays.
  • Fall omnibus legislation – Certainly there was no evidence of a once-expected fall omnibus bill in the schedule laid out by Government House Leader Peter Van Loan in his answer to last Thursday's House Business question. But if the government had been hoping to introduce additional budget business in an omnibus bill this fall, it could now risk that becoming an issue in the by-elections. Perhaps this was part of the thinking behind the latest round of "Canada's Economic Action Plan" TV ad buys.
  • The Nexen ruling deadline – The original 45-day deadline for the government to give its thumbs-up or -down to the China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) proposed takeover of Calgary's Nexen Inc. was set to expire today (October 12), but with the government having exercised its first 30-day extension, the next pressure point occurs on November 9. A further 30-day extension is available under the Investment Canada Act, but only with the consent of CNOOC as the applicant. I'm sure, given the reported differences even within the government's Calgary caucus over its approach to the deal, the Prime Minister would rather have had the by-election out of the way before the decision has to come down, but increasingly that's being held to a very narrow window of opportunity.
  • Candidate search and nomination meetingDurham, ON Conservative candidate Erin O'Toole has been in place since August 24th, when he was acclaimed after other declared candidates either didn't meet the requirements of party headquarters (one-time Colin Carrie aide Chris Topple) or withdrew due to family reasons (Jim Flaherty aide Thomas Coughlan). The next day, Calgary Centre, AB Conservative candidate Joan Crockatt won a highly competitive and well-covered nomination race on the other side of the country. With informed observers believing at the time that the Supreme Court could rule in the middle of August, it's reasonable to conclude that the coordinated deadline for those two nominations was no accident. But the NDP had a surprise up its own sleeve, announcing the resignation of incumbent Victoria, BC MP Denise Savoie two days earlier on August 23. To date there has been no sign of a serious Conservative candidacy in Victoria, a riding where the Conservatives moved into second place in last year's general election. Unless the PM were to appoint a candidate using his power as party leader, presumably nominations would have to open for the usual 7- to 14-day period, if they haven't been already.

    UPDATE: I clearly missed the signs of serious Conservatives, as there are three running (I Google'd hard, I promise). Thanks to a regular reader, we've learned that Mike Geoghegan, Ross Dunn and former Conservative candidate Patrick Hunt will be facing off at a nomination meeting believed to be occurring on October 27th. So, that still leaves December 3, 10, and 17 as realistic prospects for E-day, unless the Prime Minister wants an unusual Christmas or New Year's present, or a writ period that crosses into the new year.

Meanwhile, we're still waiting for the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on Etobicoke Centre, ON Conservative MP Ted Opitz's appeal of the lower court ruling declaring his 26-vote win over Borys Wrzesnewskyj in the 2011 general election null and void. As reported by Michael Harris in Thursday's column, the parties to the case were approached for consent to a media lockup when the ruling is released, and were required to reply to that request by September 24 – now almost three weeks ago. The wait must be equally agonizing for Opitz and Wrseznewskyj, not to mention their families and supporters.

If the lower court ruling is upheld, and Mr. Opitz's election is voided, then an 11-day wait would take effect (per s.31(1) of the Parliament of Canada Act), after which the Prime Minister could call a by-election in Etobicoke Centre, ON. Knowing this, the NDP apparently timed Savoie's resignation in order to predate the court ruling, believing that the Conservatives were waiting on its result, and hoping to ensure that Victoria, BC would be included in a round of by-elections in whose ridings otherwise their prospects were much more speculative.

Here's where candidate search is in each of the open or potentially open seats:

Etobicoke Centre, ON

The Liberals renominated former M.P. Borys Wrzesnewskyj by acclamation back on June 12, after he had won in the lower court (read the full ruling here), and after Conservative M.P. Ted Opitz had sought leave to appeal before the Supreme Court, but before the Court announced on July 3 that it would conduct hearings on July 10 (the video of the Supreme Court hearings is archived at here). Presumably – were the overturning of his election to stand – Conservative M.P. Ted Opitz would run again in the by-election (or as one brainiac asked him on television, "if your election is overturned, do you promise to resign?"). On the other hand, Green Party leader Elizabeth May announced that her party would pursue a cooperation approach and decline to run against Wrzesnewskyj, urging the NDP to follow her lead. Pretty much as predicted. No potential NDP candidate has surfaced yet, but may not have to, if the Supreme Court overturns the lower court ruling by upholding Opitz's appeal.

Calgary Centre, AB

As mentioned above, former Calgary Herald managing editor and well-known communications consultant and TV commentator Joan Crockatt used an early start to her advantage in beating back five eventual challengers after four ballots to win the Conservative nomination on Saturday, August 24. A couple of weeks later, and after teasing what a good candidate she had recruited for several days, Elizabeth May was able to secure the acclamation of her star candidate, urban sustainability expert Chris Turner on September 12, promising to run the best-resourced campaign Calgary had even seen from her party. May has been spinning the results of a snap IVR poll of the riding for the Huffington Post (with an N=250, MoE of ±6.2, and conducted in the middle of the summer on August 14, before Crockatt was even nominated), which showed her party in fourth place but with the most enthusiastic supporters, as suggesting that her candidate was really the best positioned to win against Crockatt.

Naturally not everyone agrees, but the reason all the positioning is going on is that a third party group called was launched to try and instigate a coalescing of support behind one of the so-called "progressive" candidates (i.e., pretty much everyone to Ms. Crockatt's left). Sorry, "to facilitate an organic process where voters from across the political spectrum can come together in a less partisan forum, assess the progressive candidates on their own merits and decide among themselves who they feel is best suited to represent their interests prior to election day", in their words. So long as it's organic, I guess. The site is being run by former Naheed Nenshi organizer Brian F. Singh and writes glowingly of fellow Nenshi alumnus and Alison Redford strategist Stephen Carter, who himself has already ruled out at least one of the "progressive" alternatives.

Not to be outdone, the NDP sent in Nathan Cullen to hold a workshop on "uniting progressives in Calgary Centre" back in July during the Stampede. That led to the appearance of a new Calgary Centre NDP Facebook page, and the appearance of a fairly well-orchestrated communications plan designed to look serious but not raise expectations too much too early, including videos of several Calgary "progressives" talking about what the city meant to them. Already one of those folks has declared his candidacy for the NDP nomination (Brian Malkinson), as now have Matthew McMillan and Scott H Payne. No meeting date has been set, but the party did open nominations on September 5, and then hold a riding strategy meeting on September 17, the photos of which are on the FB page and show a reasonably well-attended effort. St. John's South — Mount Pearl M.P. Ryan Cleary is UPDATE: was slated to be at the University of Calgary today (Friday), and industry critic Peter Julian has made repeated visits as part of his consultations on the CNOOC-Nexen deal.

Meanwhile, already holding two UPDATE: one (Calgary Buffalo; Calgary Varsity is further north) of the provincial seats within the federal boundaries, the Liberals were able to field four candidates for a contested nomination held on Saturday, September 22, which saw former provincial Liberal party president and lawyer Harvey Locke win easily on the first ballot. Wascana Liberal M.P. Ralph Goodale was in attendance at the nomination meeting, and then Locke received Justin Trudeau on his first post-announcement leadership campaign stop last week.

1CalgaryCentre is holding an "unConference for post-partisan politics" a week Saturday on October 20, which given that it's Calgary and given the group's ultimate objective, sounds like a mandatory cattle call for the various non-Joan Crockatt candidates to audition at. Lucky them. The group has answered another sceptic here.

Durham, ON

As already mentioned, Toronto lawyer Erin O'Toole (whose father John is the provincial PC MPP for the same riding) was finally acclaimed on August 24 after two other candidacies fell by the wayside. He has an active website, and has been receiving the full-service complement of ministerial visits, and a photo of himself with Wayne Gretzky.

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae visited Bowmanville in the riding and announced the appointment of 2011 candidate and former Toronto Board of Trade chief operating officer Grant Humes as their candidate on Monday, October 1. Rae's visit came after an earlier appearance by NDP Leader Tom Mulcair to meet with the mayors of Bowmanville and Oshawa, and an appearance by Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow with the Oshawa mayor in Toronto. The NDP has not announced any plans for a nomination as yet, but has evidently been working to develop the port authority and the proposed ethanol plant as a potential issue there.

No Green Party candidate has emerged as yet.

Victoria, BC

The race for the NDP nomination in Victoria is as hotly contested as the Conservative nomination was in Calgary Centre, though long-time local politics watcher Bernard Schulmann bemoans the lack of any willingness by any of the candidates to actually disagree with one another in an all-candidates debate. (You can listen to the CFAX radio debate here, and draw your own conclusions.) Aboriginal rights and environmental lawyer Murray Rankin, who was a member of Tom Mulcair's leadership campaign team in BC, and who has been providing legal advice to BC NDP leader Adrian Dix on the Enbridge pipeline, was first into the race, and received a good chunk of the key endorsements right off the bat, including several sometime Green Party supporters. Three days later, however, he was joined in the race by former BC Health and Finance Minister Elizabeth Cull, followed by former school trustee Charley Beresford, and finally Victoria city councillor Ben Isitt. Most observers believe it will come down to a tight race between Rankin and Cull on the final ballot.

Meanwhile on the Liberal side, economist Paul Summerville, who ran for the NDP in the Toronto riding of St. Paul's in 2006, but then joined the Liberal Party to support Bob Rae for leader and ran for Policy Chair at last January's convention, was the first candidate to get "green-lit" by party headquarters. And after prospective Liberal leadership candidate David Merner declined to pursue the nomination in addition to his leadership aspirations, it is now expected that Summerville's acclamation will be confirmed this Saturday, October 13. Summerville will know who his NDP counterpart is the following day, on Sunday October 14. And, by the way, he's now declared himself a supporter of Merner's leadership campaign. Summerville does look to be making opposition to a new sewage treatment plant (aka "billion dollar boondoggle" according to his website) his main election issue (in concert for the most part with the Greens), with all the NDP candidates taking the other side.

The Greens had an interesting turn of events in their nomination meeting where the 40 voting members in attendance evenly split their votes between Trevor Moat and Donald Galloway, which unbeknownst to the two candidates until the following day was settled by a coin toss in Moat's favour. After learning how close he came to winning, Moat stepped down in favour of U-Vic history law professor Galloway, who many had assumed to be party leader Elizabeth May's preferred candidate in the first place. Bernard Von Schulmann has more details, including the interesting observation that we could conceivably have as many as three U-Vic profs running against one another in the by-election.

So far no Conservatives there, though. UPDATE: And three potential Conservative candidates, as corrected above. UPDATE: Nomination meeting is Saturday, October 20, according to the Saturday edition of the Victoria Times-Colonist.


Photo credit: L. Giannoccaro


Don't forget, if you are a Liberal leadership news junkie, the easiest way to follow the race at a glance is to check in regularly with the Pundits' Guide to the Liberal Leadership Contest social media aggregator page, at, where we have Facebook feeds, Twitter follower counts, Facebook like counts, Twitter tickers, and automated Google News searches in both english and french that get refreshed every 30 minutes, along with a calendar, quick guide to the rules and more.

UPDATED: Fall By-election Calendar Shaping up Ahead of Supreme Court Ruling

August 24th, 2012 | 13 Comments

[Welcome, National Newswatch readers!]

Political junkies will be able to fix soon – an autumn round of by-elections is set to kick off some time after September 11, although Etobicoke Centre seems less and less likely to be one of them.

[See below for update on list of possible NDP candidates in Victoria.]

With Thursday's announcement by Deputy Speaker and Victoria, BC NDP M.P. Denise Savoie of her pending August 31 retirement, only the Supreme Court's ruling on Borys Wrzesnewskyj's petition to declare null and void the 26-vote Etobicoke Centre, ON win by Conservative Ted Opitz last year remains, before we know the full shape of the fall by-election calendar.

Still, the fact that the Supreme Court has yet to issue its ruling on Opitz's appeal tends to suggest that it is preparing to overturn the lower court ruling, as the reasons for upholding a lower court ruling would seem much faster to write than the reasons to overturn.

This leaves us with one riding where the top prize is the Conservative nomination (Calgary Centre, AB), one riding where the same could be said for the NDP (Victoria, BC), and one complete imponderable that probably would normally have been a Conservative-Liberal contest favouring the Conservatives in the past, but where the NDP came second in 2011, and the outgoing Conservative incumbent's record is of unknown importance to future voting intentions (Durham, ON).

Looking at the likely by-election dates:

    Calgary Centre, AB Durham,
(A)  Date of the vacancy: Thu Jun 7,
Wed Aug 1,
Fri Aug 31,
(B)  Date the Chief Electoral Officer was notified of the vacancy: Thu Jun 7,
Wed Aug 1,
Fri Aug 31,
(C)  First day the by-election could be called (11 days after (B)): Mon Jun 18,
Sun Aug 12,
Tue Sep 11,
(D)  36 days after (C): Tue Jul 24,
Mon Sep 17,
Wed Oct 17,
(E)  Earliest date the by-election could be held (First Monday on or after (D)): Mon Jul 30,
Mon Sep 17,
Mon Oct 22,
(F)  Last the by-election can be called (180 days after (B)): Tue Dec 4,
Mon Jan 28,
Wed Feb 27,
(G)  36 days after (F): Wed Jan 9,
Tue Mar 5,
Thu Apr 4,
(H)  Latest date the by-election could be held (First Monday on or after (G)): on or after Mon Jan 14,
on or after Mon Mar 11,
on or after Mon Apr 8,

Assuming the Prime Minister decides to wait and call all three by-elections at once, the first Monday that would accomodate all three would be Monday, October 22, two weeks after the Commons Thanksgiving break week, and three weeks before their November Remembrance Day break.

Now, if the Supreme Court were to uphold the lower court ruling and declare the May 2011 election in Etobicoke Centre null and void, similar by-election timeframes would apply to that riding as well. We do know that the 102-page transcript of the July 10 Supreme Court hearing of the appeal was completed on July 26, but not much else as to the timing of the ruling, though the Court is bound by the Elections Act to deal with it "without delay and in a summary way". The timing of the Court's rulings are usually signalled two days ahead of time by news release, and no such release has been issued since early August.

But assuming the Court ruled by the end of August, and if it upheld the lower court, then a notice of vacancy in Etobicoke Centre would go to the Commons Speaker, just like with a resignation, and then the 11 day wait before a by-election could be called would start to count down.

The last day to call the first riding that became vacant (Calgary Centre, AB) is 180 days after the Chief Electoral Officer received notice of the vacancy: so, Tuesday December 4. But a call that late would result in a winter by-election campaign straddling the Christmas-New Year's holiday, and is probably therefore out of the running.

Thus, I'm expecting a mid-September to mid-October call for between October 22 and November 26, in those three ridings.

As to possible candidates in Victoria, BC, several names are making the rounds in NDP circles tonight, including MLA and former leader Carole James (whose provincial riding would then be opened up for the current Mayor Dean Fortin, goes one theory), Mayor Dean Fortin himself, councillors Marianne Alto (a former federal treasurer of the NDP), Ben Isitt, or Pamela Madoff, or the northern Victoria MLA Rob Fleming, who attended Thursday's news conference with NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and Savoie. Another name to include in the mix is 2008 Vancouver Centre candidate Michael Byers, who co-chaired Mulcair's leadership campaign in BC and now lives on Saltspring Island.

UPDATE: Lawyer Murray Rankin is another name being advanced for the NDP nomination. With a background in environmental and aboriginal law, he practices in both Vancouver and Victoria, but is affiliated with the University of Victoria where he is the co-chair of the Environmental Law Centre. Given Mulcair's strong support from the bench in the recent leadership race, Rankin is the kind of candidate who would easily fit that profile.

A likely candidate for the Liberal nomination would undoubtedly be the Victoria lawyer and federal leadership candidate David Merner — who as a sidebar is my guess for the identity of Merner is a bilingual Victoria lawyer who, when he worked for the Federal Justice Department in Ottawa, had spent considerable funds running for the provincial Liberal nomination in Ottawa Vanier, before Dalton McGuinty appointed Madeleine Meilleur instead. He has sinced moved to BC, becoming the president of the BC section of the Liberal Party (a position he stepped down from in late June to explore a leadership bid). He also sits on the board of, and has championed a Cullen-like platform of "cooperation", although we learn from Joseph Uranowski at the Equivocator blog that Merner's version does not involve co-operating with the NDP, but rather with the Greens and red tories, and even green tories ("conservation conservatives"). Anyways, the @QuiLiberalWho Twitter feed includes a retweet of an incident on Victoria's CTV station by Richard Madan, and was trying to engage BC Liberals like Dan Veniez (who has clearly been watching "The Newsroom") and a very impatient Jason Lamarche; plus the bullet-point questions being raised on (already a very social media-savvy tease such as you'd expect from a LeadNow devotee) hit on themes like electoral cooperation, the environment, and the justice system, which have been staples of Merner's campaign to date. So, LiberalWho is probably from BC, and probably not Taleeb Noormohamed from North Vancouver, thus I conclude he is David Merner from Victoria. We'll see how well I guessed on September 3.

Another possible Liberal name for Victoria would have to be economist Paul Summerville, a supporter of Bob Rae's who was last seen running for Policy Chair of the Liberal Party at their January convention in Ottawa, though he had earlier run for the NDP in St. Paul's, ON in 2006, supported John Horgan for the provincial NDP leadership in BC, and taken a lawn sign for Savoie in the last election.

Thought not to be interested in another run is 2011 Liberal candidate and former mayor of Oak Bay, Chris Causton, nor his Conservative counterparty Patrick Hunt.

Names being brainstormed for the Conservatives at this early stage include Oak Bay MLA Ida Chong, and businessman Matt McNeill.

As to the Greens, they seem to be more focused on Calgary Centre, which both senior organizer Rob Hines and leader Elizabeth May are claiming they can win, apparently based on candidate selection.