The time of testing of Trudeau.

Monday is by-election day. In four federal ridings scattered across Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, voters will be having their say. It will be a test of their resolve for change and their direction for change. New Democrat leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will be tested and judged and critiqued according to the showings of their respective party candidates.

The Bourassa electoral district in Montreal is the one under the closest scrutiny. It is a long-time Liberal seat that was held by Denis Coddere until he resigned to run for and win the mayoralty in Montreal. The seat is under attack from the nascent New Democrats. The NDP wants to win to prove the party is not a one-time wonder in Quebec and is pulling out all stops. The Liberals are reasonably confident here but will not uncross their fingers until Monday night.

Toronto-Centre in Ontario is the heart of the Liberal Party strength in Ontario. If Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland does not win here in former Interim Leader Bob Rae’s riding, there will be problems. Chrystia is up against the darling of the New Democrats, Linda McQuaig, and it has been an intense campaign. If Linda upsets things, it will be Justin who will be criticized for his ill-considered off the cuff remarks that speak of his lack of experience as leader. Again, the Liberals look safe but we will all feel more comfortable after Monday night.

Manitoba has not been a happy hunting ground for Liberals in recent years but there is a statistical chance of a Liberal win in Brandon-Souris due to some infighting among the Conservatives in the riding. Many Liberals thought our best bet in Brandon-Souris was to move from fourth place to second. If we can win it with the work Trudeau has done in the riding, there will be Liberals dancing in the streets.

But we hardly expect a similar situation in the Manitoba riding of Provencher. When you consider that Conservative Vic Toews won this riding with 70 per cent of the vote in 2011, you wonder about the intellectual capacity of the voters. (Just Google the name and you will see what we mean.) If the Liberals can even keep the Conservative vote under 45 per cent, you will know that Harper is toast in the next election.

Of course, Mr. Harper will have his prepared texts ready on Monday evening to slam Trudeau as best he can. Hopefully Justin will be less off the cuff than usual. If Liberals win three out of four, he is in good shape. If we only win two, we might take comfort in closer votes in the Manitoba ridings.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

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