Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Round-Up of Five Ontario By-Elections Due for August 1st

Ontario's Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne has announced that five by-elections will be held on August 1st, ostensibly to replace five retiring Liberal MPPs.

I've already covered the "big three," that being former Finance Minister Dwight Duncan's seat in Windsor-Tecumseh; former AG/Energy Minister Chris Bentley's riding of London West; and former Premier Dalton McGuinty's riding of Ottawa South. In addition, former Education Minister Laurel Broten's riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore also opened up, as well as MPP Margarett Best's seat in Scarborough-Guildwood (she stepped down for health reasons, not political/I'm off to a nice retirement reasons like the others), which I'll cover later in more in-depth detail.

With the exception of Windsor-Tecumseh, these ridings are all exceptionally "safe" Liberal seats. Leads range from Duncan's 10-point lead to Broten's nearly 22-point lead.

This means its highly unlikely that under normal circumstances the government would lose all of these by-elections, maybe sitting with one or two losses at most, probably in Windsor and Ottawa. Their opposition is fairly weak in all of these ridings, and none of them have a modern history of consistently winning there (the exceptions being Windsor-Tecumseh with the NDP and London West for the Conservatives, but only federally). These should be a fairly safe jaunt for the Liberals.

Recent polling actually bears that out as well. Taking the most recent poll into account (Forum June 26th), here is where all the parties sit in my projection system:

While Ottawa South is a lot closer (due to a quirky result in Eastern Ontario regional in Forum's poll), overall the situation hasn't changed too much; the two Toronto seats remain well inside the Liberal's safe column, as does London West. Even Windsor Tecumseh and Ottawa South, while both on the line, remain notional Liberal wins (though too close to call in reality).

So while we may take a hit in two of the ridings, we're not completely disadvantaged and could go for a clean sweep, right?

Well, its possible if you go by the numbers alone that we could indeed win all five of these ridings. I would even say its an extremely safe bet to assume both of the Toronto ridings will remain with the Liberals. But there have been so many scandals recently that my guess is that someone, somewhere, will need to bear the brunt of the people's displeasure.

With that said, here is my 1st-day prediction, based off the numbers and my gut feeling of where the electorate is at right now.

Windsor-Tecumseh will go to the New Democrats. This is a riding that is ripe for the taking by Andrea Horwath's party, containing part of the industrial core that goes for the social democrats big-time. Without Dwight Duncan or Sandra Pupatello on the ballot, I have a hard time seeing this riding staying red.

London West will probably stay Liberal, simply because I don't see Hudak's party strong enough to take it outright. If they had a star candidate, sure, but they nominated 2011's candidate Ali Chahbar instead. The Liberals nominated Ken Coran, former president of the Ontario Secondary School Teacher's Federation, and if Catherine Fife's election taught me anything, teachers want to support their own. I can't see this riding flipping easily, though its possible. It does have a strong federal Conservative bent.

Etobicoke-Lakeshore is going to be safe for the Liberals, especially since Toronto Councilor Peter Milczyn is running for us there (I believe he's confirmed). The riding has been held by the NDP and PCs in the past, and it did go Conservative federally by about 5% (though who knows what effect Michael Ignatieff had on that race), but I just don't see it flipping now, not with a strong candidate like Milczyn in place.

Scarborough-Guildwood is the other safe riding for the Liberals, and for our candidate Mitzie Hunter, former CEO of Toronto CivicAction. It was retained federally by John McKay, and Best maintained a 20-point lead over the PCs fairly easily in 2011, despite this being one of the more affluent Scarborough ridings. The one caveat that may pop up is Neethan Shan, the NDP's 2011 candidate in Scarborough-Rouge River who nearly toppled us there. He ran here in 2007, and may be up for another go. He would be a formidable candidate, though Guildwood doesn't have the same demographics that Rouge River does.

Ottawa South, finally, is a riding that despite its strong Liberal pedigree, which I outlined before, I can actually see going blue, but for the simple fact of its symbolism as McGuinty's old riding. If it were not for that, I would say its very easily going to stay Liberal. The Liberals have confirmed that John Fraser, McGuinty's former executive assistant, as the candidate, so it isn't as if they're making a break of McGuinty's legacy either. I would put this as a tossup for sure.

I'll update everything further as time and the campaigns move forward.


  1. I think you may be putting too much weight on the previous results which may have been weighted towards the Liberals by the fact that each of their candidates were in the fact McGuinty, Bentley and Duncan were arguably the three most prominent cabinet members in the government.

    Secondly, although most margins were wide in 2011, four of the 5 risings went NDP in 1990 and 3 went for Harris in both of his election wins.

    Lastly it is disappointing that the Liberals would run Peter Milczyn, one of Rob Ford's allies, in Lakeshore. This is a reflection of the fact that the Liberals' municipal farm team in Toronto has always been with the most dismal right wingers on council.

    1. While you are right that the star power of the previous candidates (Duncan, McGuinty, et. al.) does bias it a tad, I wouldn't necessarily say that their vote was just *all* because of them. Aside from Windsor-Tecumseh, again because of the NDP, all of these ridings have been held by various incarnations of Liberals federal and provincial. They're also demographically Liberal-leaning ridings (middle-income, fairly diverse, urban/sub-urban locales), which should put these ridings in their column just to begin with (again, the big exception is Windsor-Tecumseh, though it isn't that far off either).

      The big issue for the Liberals is that after ten years in government, the ice has gotten a little too thin to skate on. These Liberal-leaning ridings are more likely to flip in by-elections simply due to the fact that the OLP government is scandal-plagued and kind of tired. Their saving grace is that these ridings are Liberal-leaning, and the two opposition parties are kind of run shabbily.

      Question becomes which will win out - the notion of a tired government people are looking to get rid of, or the demographics and loyalty these ridings have shown to the Liberals in the past? I say that I can see the Liberals losing a couple of ridings, but I cannot see a total loss. It would be a tremendous fuck-up if that did occur.

      As for the past results, this isn't the 90's era PCs and NDP we're dealing with here. The NDP, while stronger relative to the past decade or so, are still fairly weak; and the PCs have had almost zero traction within the GTA, so far as anyone can tell. I like the Liberal's odds.

      I don't know enough about Milczyn's politics to really comment, but if you're correct, then I'm not exactly surprised nor offended. If Milczyn proves he can win there, and he is compatible enough with Liberal policies to work inside the government, then he's our guy. You should also remember that the provincial Liberals have had quite the ideologically diverse caucus in the past, I mean hell, they were rural conservatives for much of the pre-Peterson era, and even up to the 1990's under McLeod they still had quite a few conservative elements.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. You may wish to re-think London West. Ken Coran has not gotten off to a flying start.

    1. Meh, and Ali Chahbar is apparently a federal Liberal. I don't really see anyone caring about his past associations with the NDP. I mean, for Christ's sake, former federal NDP MP, NDP MPP, and NDP Leader and Premier Bob Rae just retired as a federal Liberal MP!

    2. It's not the party-switching that's the issue. The problem is that he sounded like an idiot when he was asked about it.

      'Here’s the exchange between London Free Press reporter Patrick Maloney and Ken Coran, the provincial Liberal candidate in the upcoming London West byelection:

      LFP: So you were a member of the New Democrats?

      Ken Coran: “Um, quite some time ago. I believe I was associated with the London-Fanshawe, Irene Mathyssen scenario.”

      LFP: “So a card-carrying New Democrat, how long ago would that have been?”

      Coran: “That was more of a federal situation.”

      LFP: “So when do you figure that would have been?”

      Coran: “Oh gosh, that would have been some time ago, I couldn’t. . .”

      LFP: “Two years ago? Three years ago? 18 months ago?”

      KC: “I think longer than that to be quite honest . . . I couldn’t give you can exact time, as I say my (union) job was to liaise with all the parties.”"

      What could become a bigger issue are his 'nose-stretchers' about playing and coaching for the UWO Mustangs football team. It turns out that he tried out for the team in 1972 but was cut. Or as Ken put it: “I guess it revolves around the definition of ‘played.’”

    3. Maybe its because I'm not from London, but I really don't see why anyone will care. I certainly don't see why voters will turn away from him in droves because of a possible past NDP membership, and this accusation about some football team in the 1970's. I mean, Jane Shin, the new NDP MLA for a Burnaby seat in BC outright lied about nearly *all* of her credentials, yet she was still elected.

  3. The one thing I will say now is that Etobicoke-Lakeshore got a lot more interesting with Doug Holyday's entry. He could very well take it, indeed you could say he may even be favoured.

  4. History is difficult to use for predictions. Toby-Lake should - by history - have been a dogfight without Holyday. Ottawa South meanwhile should be solidly Liberal. These ridings are unique in that they are all in areas of the province undergoing a political transformation, and thus, it is difficult to call a victor.

  5. Can you post the poll by poll coloured maps for Etobicoke Lakeshore and Scarborough Guildwood, they would certainly be worth viewing?

    1. I will be shortly, this week in fact (Etobicoke-Lakeshore tomorrow).

  6. There are colour coded maps of all the by-election ridings on

    1. I have colour-coded maps of four of the five by-elections up (well, fourth is coming up), *without* the left-wing nutbarry talk!

  7. Service Metrics Inc. is a Canadian Market Research Firm founded in 2002. Our headquarters are located in Toronto, Ontario. We are a full-service company providing factual reporting & analysis at the customer level for clients in Service; Finance; Retail; Manufacturing; Quick Serve/Restaurant; Utilities; Health Care; Petroleum; and Federal, Provincial and Local Governments.

    We are looking to see who is interested in taking part in a special project to help improve the electoral process. We would need individuals available on election day across Ontario to attend a specific polling station and monitor:

    Elector behaviour - counting electors, do they have ID or NRC, do they require assistance
    Processing Time - time it takes to complete the voting process

    At this time, we would like to know who is interested in participating and how far you are willing to travel, understanding that the shift on the day of election will be approximately 12 hours.

    Urban locations will be paid at $13/hr -- Rural locations will be paid at $15/hr

    We will pay mileage if you are required to travel more than 10 kilometers from home.

    Please respond with your Name, phone number and address.
    Contact us at 1-866-762-2435