|Credit: Sudbury Star|
I will admit from the top here: I actually expected Glenn Thibeault and the Ontario Liberals to go down in flames in Sudbury last night.
That opinion was despite my own obvious leanings and my immense respect for Glenn as a politician. Let's face it though, it isn't often that you have a scandal this large casting its shadow over your campaign, especially one so local and with such a sympathetic narrative, and manage a victory - especially for the Ontario Liberals. They have a propensity to lose by-elections in spectacular fashion, often coming down from on high to mess around in a local riding's machinations and completely screw it up. It has this effect even more when it faces off against the NDP for some reason - I submit as evidence by-elections in Hamilton East and London West, the former of which gave us Andrea Horwath herself.
However, the Sudbury by-election has clearly bucked my hypothetical trend. That is absolutely amazing to me, and congratulations - I think the better candidate won frankly, and the number of Liberal volunteers I know that went up to Sudbury are beaming with pride - well deserved, in my opinion.
There is a flip to this story, however - that of the losers, or as I like to call them, the NDP (that's a joke, please don't bite my head off).
The Ontario New Democrats are a party that was supposed to be on its way to inevitable victory against a corrupt Liberal government and incompetent Tory party - that never panned out, and instead the NDP and leader Andrea Horwath's decision to force an election allowed the Liberals to claim a majority government, while they had to settle for continued third place and minimal influence on government policy.
Now the dirt has been rubbed in their faces with the loss of Sudbury, a coveted riding they probably poured immense resources into in the 2014 general election and now have nothing to show for it. That is despite having a quality candidate in Shawna Shawbonquit and a helpful vote split with Andrew Olivier, the ex-OLP candidate running as an independent.
There will be plenty of excuses: the OLP bribed the electorate with promises of cabinet influence, or its a natural Liberal riding, or Thibeault's star power was too much, so and so forth. That is all fair, but there was just so much riding in your favour, Dippers. How did you not turn it to your favour? How did Andrea, or Thomas Mulcair for that matter, not manage to convince voters in the city to stick by their decision in 2014 to be the finger stuck in the eye of the Liberal government?
That's certainly a question I'd be asking of my leader anyway.