This chart shows the current Canadian political party trends since 2011.
Cracks in the Conservative Party
by Tom Thorne
The recent by elections have not changed the House of Commons standings but they have shown that traditional Conservative and Liberal ridings the status quo remains with some strong testing of traditional voting in Manitoba. Hard working New Democrats like Linda McQuaig couldn’t dent Toronto Centre enough to win despite a lot of hard work.
Toronto Centre remained Liberal with 49 percent going to winner Chrystia Freeland. Linda McQuaig got 36 percent for the NDP. Conservative Geoff Pollock polled eight percent. I watched these candidates go at each other on TVOntario’s Agenda program.
Green Party candidate John Deverell presented well and yet polled low with only three percent. The Green Party seems to poll about three to four percent no matter how good their candidates are. This also shows in other national polling.
Geoff Pollock for the Conservatives was continually on the defensive given the Senate Scandal and the Prime Minister’s Office debacle. If Linda McQuaig runs again in 2015 she may be tougher to knock off. NDP leader Tom Mulcair made several appearances but Toronto Centre’s Liberal core returned what was expected.
In Manitoba, the Liberals bruised the Conservatives in Brandon-Souris with a tight fight of 44 percent for winning Conservative Larry Maguire versus 42 percent for the Liberal Rolf Dinsdale. The NDP got eight percent which probably spoiled a Liberal upset. The Green party received four percent which could have made the race even tighter if there was no Green candidate. Brandon-Souris actually voted against the Conservatives with 52 percent of their votes.
In Bourassa (Montreal) Liberal Emmanuel Doubourg took the riding with 48 percent. Again a traditional Liberal seat but Stephanie Moraille for the NDP polled a respectable 31 percent. Block Quebecois candidate Daniel Duranleau came third with 13 percent and Conservative Rida Mahoud got four percent. The Greens got two percent.
Provencher in Manitoba is the only real clear win for the Conservatives where Ted Falk won with 58 percent. Liberal Terry Hayward got 29 percent while Natalie Beaudry of the NDP siphoned off eight percent and James Gibson for the Green Party a further three percent. The progressive party totals here amount to 40 percent.
So what does this all mean? First by-elections are never fully indicators of the country between elections and if you are a government you can expect to lose a few of these seats. So the best we can say is after the dust settled party standings did not change and normal Liberal and Conservative real estate stayed in traditional patterns.
However these by-election tests show clearly that while the centre and left votes are split the Conservatives retain seats. However in the case of these by-elections the Conservatives mean out in all four ridings with 28.5 percent of all the votes cast in the by-elections. The Liberals garnered 40.75 percent of the votes cast. Interestingly the NDP polled 20.5 percent of the votes cast in all four ridings.
These numbers gel with current party standings. The latest Ipsos CTV poll shows 35 percent for the Liberals up four percent. The NDP is at 24 percent down two percent and the Conservatives under Harper are now 29 percent down one percent. Obviously the by-elections show similar trend as the popular vote and polls.
As I have said before if the NDP and Liberals combined they could get wins in many more ridings. In the last general election the national percentage to form the current Conservative majority government was 38 percent and the Liberals have bested that in the current by-election.
Conservative strategists must be concerned that the negativity generated by the Harper Government is now increasing in the country. Liberals may now be cautiously optimistic and the NDP given that the Bloc Quebecois got 27 percent in the recent Ipsos CTV poll may need to look at how they will keep seats in Quebec from Liberals in 2015 since the Conservatives are moribund in that province as long as Stephen Harper is Prime Minister and a Quebecker does not lead the Conservatives.
Anxious Conservatives will begin to question holding their majority in 2015. They will not forget the problems with Nigel Wright and how he was hung out to dry by Stephen Harper. In addition, Justin Trudeau who has hung back in all these frays and scandals can now positively lay out a 2015 election plan that will contrast with a sense of hope against the closed up tired machinations of the Harper Government.
As for the NDP. It has the problem of holding Quebec to ensure that it remains the Official Opposition. That will be a tougher chore than they know as their vote is split by any reasonable Bloc Quebecois resurgence which provides the Liberals with a potential renaissance in Quebec in 2015.
© Copyright 2013, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved