They are by-elections for goodness sake!

You just love it when the government has to call some by-elections for seats in parliament that have become vacant and people want to analyze the results. Why? We knew the likely results when the by-elections were called. If you want to see hotly contested by-elections, come back when there is something to contest.

The biggest battles in a situation such as this are the nominations for the party that held the seat last. When you are having by-elections in electoral districts that were won by majorities in the last general election, it gives you a clue as to the eventual winner.

If we mentioned that the previous seat-holders for the two Calgary seats were Conservatives, the Right Hon. Stephen Harper and the Hon. Jason Kenney, which party do you think won those seats? You are right! It is the status quo all over again.

It was a similar story in the three eastern seats in Montreal, Ottawa and the Toronto area. The turn-out to vote was a disgrace but no party was working very hard—or very smart. Reading into the voting totals is a waste of time.

We are not suggesting by any means that a change is not possible. Turn-overs happen. It is just when they do, you hear it first at the doors. Your canvassers are your campaign’s listening posts. They are not there to talk but to listen. Given a possible turn-over in a by-election, the parties can draw on people resources from surrounding ridings. More of the party stars show up in the area. It all depends on the stakes at risk.

Back when we had responsibilities across multiple electoral districts in general elections, we used to swear you could smell defeat or victory when dropping in on a campaign office. You can see it in the activity and the smiles. You can hear it in the ringing telephones.

Today, by-elections are just an excuse for the parties to raise money. They provide an opportunity to get new talent into government. They are opportunities for the chosen of the leader—sometimes.

That was the only good news in these by-elections. The nomination meeting in Montreal’s Saint-Laurent electoral district did not pick Justin Trudeau’s choice. The local Liberals liked the hard-working local gal with the long Greek name. As did the voters in the electoral district. We wish her well.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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