The date has been officially set; the by-election in Vaughan, plus those in Winnipeg North and Dauphin--Swan River--Marquette, will occur on November 29th. That means a 36-day writ period, starting from today (October 24), which is pretty standard.
However, it has caught me off-guard. I was assuming that Harper would call four by-elections together, with the three mentions above plus Haute-Gaspésie--La Mitis--Matane--Matapédia, where the Bloc MP just stepped down, and there was a good chance for Liberal Nancy Charest to score a win there. But, that's quite alright: Vaughan is the immediate, and most pressing, by-election right now.
So how are the parties stacking up now that the writ has dropped? Using the Pundit Guide's wonderful database, we can get a general idea:
The Conservatives have a candidate lined up, as everyone should know by now, as former Ontario top cop Julian Fantino, a controversial but locally popular candidate, is carrying their banner into the fight for this Liberal stronghold.
Some folks made a stink about how little the Liberals have in the bank as of Dec. '09's EDA statements, yet the Conservatives have much less. Last count, the Vaughan Liberal EDA was sitting on $11K, and the Conservative EDA $9.4K. The problem is, of course, in December '09, no one was aware that this riding would be up for grabs in a by-election, so lax fundraising on the part of all four parties at that point makes sense. We don't have more up-to-date numbers, however we can assume that the Conservatives will put that big blue fundraising machine they have to work for them.
The Liberals also seem to have a candidate in Tony Genco, who seems to be separated-at-birth from Denis Coderre. I say "seem" because it's not officially known yet whether or not he is the candidate, as Ignatieff said there was probably going to be a nomination fight if candidates showed up. Of course, because of the timing here, Genco has either been appointed (a possibility) or acclaimed by the riding association (most likely what happened), because any other interested candidates either failed to meet the required membership totals (I think candidates need to grab 400 new members, though it may be another number), or the timing is too quick for them, or both. We'll know for certain soon enough.
Like the Conservatives, we don't really know the financials of the local Party in Vaughan right now, aside from the 2009 EDA statements. Depending upon how much money the EDA has in the bank, which depends on how long ago they knew Bevilacqua was going to leave, Vaughan Liberals will most likely rely on transfers from the Party, the candidate's own funds, and what fundraising can be done during the writ period.
The NDP also have a chosen candidate here, as Kevin Bordian will be the standard-bearer for this by-election. He has a meager Facebook page, standing with Mr. Layton, but that's it. In 2008, the NDP spent $1.9K in the riding, or 2% of the total; as of 2009, they have $2,800 in the bank. Will they spend more than 2%? If they do, I doubt its because the central party wants to. A riding where they get routinely under 10% of the vote is hardly targeted.
Finally there is the Green candidate, Claudia Rodriguez-Lorrain. I would not be surprised if the Greens surpassed the NDP in Vaughan. Their candidate has an actual website, and they spent nearly $12.6K in 2008, raised $8.5K, and was transferred $7.2K, in 2008. As of 2009, they raised $1.4K.
So, today the writ was dropped, and tomorrow the race truly begins. Well, maybe Tuesday. Whenever Genco is officially named the candidate, I plan on doing a profile for him.