We’ve gotten the preliminary results from today’s by-elections, and they were a doozy. So startled were we at the results, we had to consult a dictionary to help properly interpret them.
in·er·tia (iˈnərSHə): a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.
There we are. Three out of the four ridings went to the same party as last time, and in the one exception (where the incumbent retired), a popular local councillor was elected. The NDP were the big losers tonight, going down a seat, the Liberals picked up one, and the Conservatives remained even at a majority. While there was speculation that the results would be a little wonky given the date (between a weekend and Canada Day), the results were as expected, albeit with a lower turnout.
Realistically, this by-election means absolutely nothing, but everyone (ourselves included), are going to study the hell out of these tea leaves and try to make vague predictions about 2015. Let’s break down the results.
A Liberal stronghold under Jim Karygiannis since 1988 (when it was created), his retirement signalled a new direction for the riding, going…Liberal, again. The riding went to Arnold Chan with just shy of 60% of the vote, to the 2nd place Conservatives with 29%. It’s a move everyone saw coming, and is entirely unsurprising. The Conservatives tried to paint Justin as a pot-pusher, but it wasn’t enough to steal the riding. This is a riding with a very high ethnic population (79% non-white), and where Chinese is the first language spoken, so it’s interesting to see the Conservatives running a candidate white as the driven snow.
A Conservative stronghold in Southwest Alberta, it went again to the Conservatives with 69% of the vote. Second place was the Liberals with about 17%, and then the NDP, Greens, and the Christian Heritage Party with 4-5% apiece.
An area that’s seen a huge population boom as of late, there was the possibility of an upset. Forum, who typically posts good numbers, looked entirely ridiculous when they predicted a Liberal win 44% to the Conservatives 33%. And we saw a huge Liberal gain to the final result of about 47% Conservative to around 35% Liberal, closer to Angus Reid’s prediction. Had the Liberals won Fort McMurray, we would have probably began rambling about apocalyptic prophecies for Harper, but really there wasn’t a chance of it happening. What is interesting is how close the Liberals came to winning, and the abysmal voter turnout of less than 16% of eligible voters. Though, that’s what happens with a by-election on the day between a weekend and a legal holiday.
Breaking the trend of re-election, Olivia Chow’s former riding went to Adam Vaughn, a former Toronto City Councillor known as that guy that Justin Trudeau really, really, wanted to run. After calling for “open nominations for all Liberal candidates in every single riding,” Trudeau backtracked and kind-of forced Christine Innes to withdraw her candidacy. She’s now suing him. In any case, it clearly didn’t hurt their chances, because Adam Vaughn won with 53% of the vote, to the NDP’s 34%.
While everyone else will say that these results are hugely influential (expect a “Justin Trudeau: Saviour of the Liberal Party” feature in every newspaper tomorrow for a 2nd place finish in Fort McMurray-Athabasca), really, this was a strange by-election, on a weird day, with abysmally low voter turnout. The 2015 election is still a long time away, but this gives us something to chew on until then.
This article has been updated to reflect more accurate polling numbers as they are reported.