Wednesday, March 19, 2008

And the Liberals are happy because…..?

They’re busy giving public high fives outside the Liberal caucus room these days in Ottawa, publicly happy with the recent by election results and emboldened for battles to come. One wonders however, what they’re saying when those doors close.

Two days after the night when the Liberals won three of four contests, there are still far more questions about their future prospects, than there are answers behind their electoral success.

The Liberals on Monday collected what were two for sure Ontario seats, both of which featured former leadership candidates finally finding a way to enter the House of Commons with the benefit of a voter’s grace. Both Bob Rae and Martha Hall Findlay had little in the way of trouble in getting a ticket to Ottawa, the two good news stories for the Liberals on the night.

The not so good news came in the west, where they lost the previously Liberal seat of Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River in northern Saskatchewan, giving it over to Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. It marked an unwanted surrender of hard gained ground, in a part of the country where electing Liberals isn’t the easiest thing to do. Joan Beatty, the hand picked candidate of Stephane Dion’s fell short, as the Conservatives won that riding with 47 per cent of the vote.

Dion perhaps was dealt a double shot of misfortune on this one, Beatty was a former provincial NDP cabinet minister and the NDP has kind of fallen out favour in recent times in the province. The lingering nastiness of the David Orchard removal also seems to have apparently played a key role in the loss of the riding.

And to really put a scare into the backroom planners, they held on by a thread on the Pacific coast, barely claiming the title of a long time depository of Liberals, one of the few islands of Liberalism in the west.

Quadra which once upon a time was home to the parachuted former Prime Minister John Turner seems to be tiring of the Liberal way. While Stephen Owen claimed the riding by 12,000 votes in the last election, Monday’s winner Joyce Murray a former provincial environment minister avoided disaster by only 150 votes.

The fact that the Conservatives came up so much in the riding and the fast paced increase of support for the Green party in both Ontario and BC, is as close to a canary in a coal mine as the Liberals are going to get about any thoughts of bringing down the Harper side anytime soon. Jack Layton’s NDP might wish to take some notes as well, for Monday didn’t provide much hope that they will be adding to their caucus room anytime soon.

Even with the odour of the Cadman affair supposedly wafting over Vancouver, the Conservatives almost took the safest Liberal seat in BC, if not the west.

Somehow, 11,850 Liberals apparently went missing in Quadra on Monday, perhaps devastated by Owens departure from politics or most likely out of the province for Spring break.

Voter turn out in all four contests was lower than usual, reflective of the timing of the votes, with the school spring break taking place in many communities and always in the back of the mind of a potential voter is the possibility that they’ll be doing it all again once the plug is pulled on the minority government.

The vote count at the end of Monday’s election showed that some 60,000 past Liberal voters took a pass on Monday’s festivities.

Perhaps they simply decided to skip the preliminary bouts and would prefer to just concentrate on the main event, whenever it may come.

That at least is what the Liberals had better hope is the case, they’re going to need a good portion of them to get back in the voting groove if they hope to replace the Conservatives.

National Post--Not much of a victory for Dion
National Post--NDP dances with fourth-party status
Globe and Mail--Tories all smiles over Liberal win in Vancouver
Globe and Mail--Mixed results provide little clarity for Liberals
Vancouver Sun--Vancouver Quadra not so 'safe,' Liberals discover
Canadian Press--Conservatives beat out Liberal star in northern Sask. byelection
Canadian Press--Dismal voter turnout in federal byelections plumbs historic lows
Toronto Star--Leadership questions dog Rae after by-election win
Toronto Star--Political persistence pays off for Hall Findlay
Toronto Star-- Message for the NDP
Toronto Star--Good news for Tories in vote results
Photo from National Post website

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