Tuesday, April 27, 2010

By-election, ahoy!

Apparently, Winnipeg NDP MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis is stepping down.

From CBC News:

Wasylycia-Leis said Tuesday that it is time to move on but did not elaborate. She wants to spend time with her family before making an announcement about her future.

She told CBC News in an interview in January that she has been urged by a number of people to take aim at municipal politics and challenge incumbent mayor Sam Katz.

Wasylycia-Leis is already considered a front-runner. According to a poll conducted in March, which asked Winnipeg voters who they favour as mayor in the election, she received the support of slightly more than one in three respondents.

So will Judy run for mayor? It's possible, but she doesn't actually say. It isn't of any consequence anyways, at least not to me.

What is of a concern is her seat - Winnipeg North. The riding doesn't have too much of a checkered past, since it's elected social democrats since 1925, starting with Labour MPs, then CCF, then NDP, with a few Liberals and one Tory sprinkled therein.

Before Wasylycia-Leis, the riding was held by Rey Pagtakhan, a Liberal who took it from the NDP in 1988. In 1997, the riding was split in two, and Pagtakhan held about 30% of the modern riding while Wasylycia-Leis, who represented Winnipeg North Centre before then, represented the other 70%.

So in 2004, it was a match-up between these two MPs, and W-L won handily (unlike last time in 1993, when Pagtakhan managed to pull 51% to W-L's 32%), though not a complete blowout. But, since then, she's racked up better and better results. In 2008, the Conservatives managed to surpass the Liberals in the riding, who had their vote fall to less than 10%. W-L managed to get 62% of the vote.

So it's clear from the onset that this won't be an easy riding to win for any party that isn't orange at its heart. The riding isn't quite the Mount Royal of NDP support, but its getting pretty close.

Luckily, the Liberals have a good candidate lined up which I believe will make a fight out of this riding. Kevin Lamoureux, former provincial Liberal MLA for the riding of Inkster, recently said he will seek the federal Liberal nomination. He replaces Roldan Sevillano Jr., who will probably seek Kevin's seat provincially, or so the story goes. Lamoureux said he'd do it specifically if W-L stepped down, and well...

Now, whether he'll win or not isn't really a known. My head says no, but my gut tells me to cheer him on anyways. But to deal such a blow to the NDP in one of their best seats in the country - it seems like a mighty task. I'm sure he's up to it, but he isn't the one who decides it in the end, is he?

But whatever the case may be, he'll most certainly put up a fight. Which is good - the NDP need to know that we can fight back and take a chunk out of them if we need to. They've just been too cocky ever since that by-election win in Outremont.

But who else is in the running? The only other declared candidate is John Harvie, who will represent the Green Party. It doesn't seem like the Conservatives have a candidate yet (or a riding association, or at least not one with any interest in being online). The NDP will be bound to find someone, but no one with as high a profile as Judy W-L, to be sure, unless Doer himself decides to come back. And both the Communist Party and the Christian Heritage Party have had perennial candidates in the past, and will probably nominate someone this time as well.

But, in any event, a by-election is on the horizon, and it'll be a fight to remember. Keep your hears perked for more news about who is fighting for what team, people! If the NDP, Liberals and Conservatives all have someone good, then we'll see who really can come out on top.

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