Monday, 17 November 2014

Harper Government may have tight race in the Oshawa-Whitby by-election today.

Federal by-elections in Ontario and Alberta today.

by Tom Thorne

Perhaps we will have a test of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s popularity today in the Oshawa-Whitby by-election. Two by-elections are being contested. One in Ontario and one in Alberta. The fist one is to replace Harper’s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty who died suddenly. This riding is Oshawa-Whitby.

Pat Perkins is the Conservative candidate this time. Celina Caesar-Chavennes is carrying the Liberal banner and Trish McAuliffe is attempting her second run at the riding for the New Democratic Party (NDP). McAuliffe came second in 2011 running against Jim Flaherty so this time the outcome could be close for all three candidates especially because the Conservative candidate is new to the party.

Probably the vote will be split almost evenly for a tight night of counting in Oshawa-Whitby. There are three other candidates in this race who may siphon off piddling numbers of votes but really it looks very even and hence a tight race in Oshawa-Whitby.

Rob Merrifield resigned the Federal Parliament as the member from Yellowhead Alberta to take up an envoy job in Washington for the Alberta Government. Mr Merrifield is a Conservative, and in 2011 received 77 percent of the vote so this looks like a safe riding for the Harper Government.

In 2011 the NDP did better than the Liberals getting 13 percent. A Green Party candidate got 5.1 percent and the Liberals almost as scarce as hen’s teeth in this region, garnered  only 2.8 percent of the vote.

It’s electoral  history seems to indicate a Conservative win. Before the Conservative and Reform parties merged the riding was held by the conservative former Prime Minister Joe Clark from 1979-1993 with about 44 percent of the vote. In one election Joe Clark went head to head with Reform’s leader Preston Manning. 

Manning got 27 percent. When you combine those votes into a single Conservative Party which is the case today, Conservatives get 71 percent well on the way to Rob Merrifield's 77 percent win in 2011. Yellowhead will remain Conservative.

The Yellowhead candidates are Jim Eglinski who is a retired RCMP officer, former Mayor of Fort St. John. He is favoured to win against teacher Ryan Mahusn for the Liberals and Eric Rosendahl for the NDP.

In Alberta by-elections are never protest elections. So I don’t expect a change of party there. However, in Ontario the protest levels against the Harper Government could be reflected in the outcome of a tight race in Oshawa-Whitby.

On the media relations front, Prime Minster Stephen Harper has been doing quite well. In Brisbane at the G20 meeting after he publicly told President Vladimir Putin to get out of The Ukraine. That plays well at home.  He helped to get President Putin shunned at this important meeting. Putin left early.

A week earlier in China he brought up the case of Canadians under house arrest. And he flew home from China for Remembrance Day in Ottawa and then flew out for Australia and the Brisbane G20 Summit. He sure looks like a doer and a man in action which may help today in the by-elections. You can sense the impending 2015 General Election in Prime Minister's every move these days.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Liberal Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne have been actively campaigning in Oshawa-Whitby. These two popular Liberals may have made a difference. Polls close a 9 P.M. local time so by 11:30 PM we should know the results for both contested ridings.

© Copyright 2014, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved.


  1. Of course, there could be a sympathy vote in favour of the much loved Jim Flaherty, which could skew the results in favour of the Cons.

  2. If Mrs Flaherty had gone after the riiding instead of the Ontario Conservative Leadership I think your sympathy vote may be right.