Saturday, September 1, 2012

Provincial by-elections next week (Fort Whyte, Kitchener-Waterloo, Vaughan)

Next week along witth the Quebec election, there will be three provincial by-elections across Canada. On Tuesday, the same day as the Quebec election, voters in the riding of Fort Whyte in Manitoba will be heading to the polls while on Thursday voters in Kitchener—Waterloo and Vaughan, Ontario will be heading to the polls. Before I make my final Quebec prediction on Monday or Tuesday, I should do a wrap up of these by-elections.

Fort Whyte, Manitoba

Poll map being used in the by-election.
Note: boundaries differ from the 2011 election.
This suburban riding located on the southwestern edge of Winnipeg is being vacated by out-going former PC leader Hugh McFadyen who had announced following his party's defeat in the 2011 provincial election that he would be stepping down as leader. And now, he is stepping down as MLA as well.

Fort Whyte is the safest Tory seat in the city. McFadyen won the riding in 2011 with 62% of the vote. He won all but 2 polls, which were ties with the NDP candidate. The riding has a short history, having only been created in 1999 from Fort Garry and from Tuxedo. Its creation can be attributed to the fact that it is made up mostly of newer homes, and it continues to grow with development in the southern part of the riding. It is also the second wealthiest riding in the province.

Ever since its creation, the riding has been a safe PC seat. It was held by John Lowen from 1999 to 2005 and by McFadyen ever since. The Tories normally get 50-60% of the vote here, while the NDP usually gets less than 30% of the vote. The Liberals usually get around 10-20%. There appears to be about 10% of the vote that swings between the Liberals and the PCs depending on their campaigns.

Federally, the riding is mostly located in the riding of Winnipeg South. A small part of the northern extremity of Fort Whyte is found in the riding of Winnipeg South Centre. Much like the provincial Tories, the federal Conservative part dominates this area as well.

While Fort Whyte is politically fairly homogenous, it is divided into two distinct parts based on its history. The northern half of the riding is part of the former municipality of Tuxedo, while the southern half is from the former municipality of Fort Garry. Both were amalgamated into Winnipeg in 1972, but are still very distinct parts of the city. When Fort Whyte was created, its two previous ridings were also Fort Garry and Tuxedo. The wealthy Tuxedo riding was the safest Tory seat in the city, and was represented by former Manitoba Premier Gary Filmon from its creation in 1981 until 2000, after Fort Whyte was split off from the riding. Fort Garry was also very Tory. Before Fort Whyte was created, Fort Garry had only not voted Tory once, in 1988 when it went Liberal.

Fort Garry MLAs (1958-1999)

S. R. Lyon, Prog. Cons. (1958-1969)
L. R. Sherman, Prog. Cons. (1969-1984)
C. T. Birt, Prog. Cons. (1984-1988)
L. E. Evans, Liberal (1988-1990)
Ms. Rosemary Vodrey, Prog. Cons. (1990-1999)

Looking ahead to Tuesday's by-election, it is clear that the Tories will win the seat. They are running their currently seat-less leader, former MP Brian Pallister in the riding. There has only been on province-wide poll since the 2011 election, and it showed that not much has changed in the province. That means, Pallister should easily win a seat in the Legislative Assembly. The NDP's sacrificial lamb in the seat is Brandy Schmidt, the current community engagement manager for the Multiple Sclerosis Society in Manitoba. The Liberals are running Bob Axworthy, brother of former federal cabinet minister Lloyd Axworthy.

Meanwhile, in Ontario...

And now for the more important races next week (sorry, Manitoba). The reason the Ontario by-elections are so important are because the fate of the entire government hangs on them. Do you remember the results of the 2011 provincial election? The Liberals won a minority government, missing out on a majority by one seat. That's why these two by-elections are so important. Come Friday morning, Ontarians might wake up to a Liberal majority government with most Ontarians not even going to the polls. The Liberals have to win both Vaughan and Kitchener—Waterloo to get their majority, since one of those seats (Kitchener—Waterloo) voted for an opposition MPP last year. However, polls show that they are at risk of losing both seats. Kitchener—Waterloo

Kitchener-Waterloo results by poll (2011 provincial election)

The first vacancy was announced back in April when it was announced that PC MPP Elizabeth Witmer had been named the head of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Liberals were licking their lips at that announcement, as Witmer was seen as someone whose name carried more weight than her party in the riding. Kitchener—Waterloo is more of a swing riding, and would probably have gone Liberal in 2011 if it had not been for Witmer. And that's why the Liberals were so happy to see her go. Out of all the Tory or NDP held seats in the province, Kitchener—Waterloo is seen as the most likely to go Liberal in a by-election.

However, the Liberals picking up this seat is nothing from certain. A Forum Research poll from earlier in August  showed the Liberals tied with the NDP at 30%, behind the Tories who were at 34%. Still, anyone's ball game.

Riding profile
Despite its name, the riding is mostly centred on the City of Waterloo, with only a small chunk lying in Kitchener. The riding has swung back in forth between the Liberals and the Tories, but has mostly leaned towards the Liberals since confederation. Witmer has held the riding for the last 22 years however, being first elected in 1990. Before that Liberal Herb Epp held the seat for 13 years.


1) Moses Springer, Liberal (1867-1881)
2) E.W.B Snider, Liberal (1881-1894)
3) A.B. Robertson, Liberal (1894-1898)

4) H.G. Lackner, Conservative (1898)
5) L.J. Bretihaupt, Liberal (1899-1902)
6) H.G. Lackner, Conservative (1902-1912) 2nd time7) C.H. Mills, Conservative (1912-1919)
8) Nicholas Asmussen, Ind. Liberal (1919-1923)
9) W.G. Weichel, Conservative (1923-1929)
10) S.C. Tweed, Liberal (1929-1934)
11) Nicholas Asmussen, Liberal (1934-1937),
2nd time
12) J.A. Smith, Liberal (1937-1943)

13) J.H. Cook, CCF (1943-1945)
14) J.I. Meinzinger, Lib-Lab./Ind. (1945-1948)
15) J.G. Brown, Liberal (1948-1951)
16) S.F. Leavine, Prog. Cons. (1951-1955)
17) J.J. Wintermeyer, Liberal (1955-1963)
18) K.E. Butler, Prog. Cons. (1963-1967)
19) E.R. Good, Liberal (1967-1977)
20) H.A. Epp, Liberal (1977-1990)

21) Ms. Elizabeth Witmer, Prog. Cons. (1990-2012)
Both federally and provincially, the riding is fairly polarized. Recent elections on both levels have been somewhat close between the Liberals and the Tories, both getting around 40%. The NDP routinely gets around 15%. The NDP vote has been said to be lower than expected for a riding of this demographic due to left of centre voters voting Liberal.

The Liberals are the strongest in the central part of the riding, which is around the Waterloo Downtown area as well as the University of Waterloo. The Tory support is concentrated on the fringes of the riding, both north, east and west. The NDP normally wins a hand full of polls, on the Kitchener side of the riding close to that city's downtown.

Looking ahead to the by-election, there is likely to be a 3-way fight, if that Forum poll is to be believed. All three parties have high stakes going into the election. The Tories are running businesswoman Tracey Weiler who hopes to keep the riding in Tory hands, and out of the Liberals. The Liberals hope to get their majority on the back of lawyer Eric Davis. The NDP hopes to surprise many by picking up the riding for the first time in its history (2nd time if you count the CCF) with their candidate, school trustee Catherine Fife.


Vaughan election results by poll (2011 provincial election)

Vaughan is a sprawling suburban riding located north of Toronto. Vaughan is a heavily Italian riding and very Catholic (77%). For most of its history it has been a safe Liberal seat, and is the most likely to go Liberal of the two by-elections. The Forum poll from last month showed the Liberals ahead by 11 points, but an earlier poll showed the Tories ahead by one point. The NDP meanwhile is not running a serious campaign there. While the seat has been a safe Liberal one on the provincial scene, federally it has turned into a safe Tory seat. That means a Tory win on Thursday might not be that much of a surprise.

The seat was vacated when Liberal Greg Sorbara, Ontario's former Finance Minister resigned. He had held the seat from 1985 to 1995 and since 2001. Since then, he had regularly won the riding by large amounts.

1) Jn. McMurrich, Liberal (1867-1871)
2) Alfred Boultbee, Conservative (1871-1874)
3) J.H. Widdifield, Liberal (1875-1888)
4) E.J. Davis, Liberal (1888-1904)

5) T.H. Lennox, Conservative (1905-1923)
6) Wm. Keith, Conservative (1923-1926)
7) P.W. Pearson, Liberal (1926-1929)
8) Clifford Case, Conservative (1929-1934)
9) Morgan Baker, Liberal (1934-1943)
10) G.H. Mitchell, CCF (1943-1945)
11) A.A. MacKenzie, Prog. Cons. (1945-1967)
12) W.M.C. Hodgson, Prog. Cons. (1967-1985)

13) G.S. Sorbara, Liberal (1985-1995)
14) Al Palladini, Prog. Cons. (1995-2001)
15) G.S. Sorbara, Liberal (2001-2012), 2nd time

Vaughan is a huge riding in terms of population. The last census recorded the population of the riding at 196,000 – almost twice the size of an average riding in Ontario. It covers most of the city of Vaughan- one of Ontario's fastest growing municipalities. The only part of the city not in the riding is the southeastern corner which belongs to Thornhill.

Provincially and federally, the riding is a very different place. While the Liberal Sorbara won his provincial race by nearly 11,000 votes, his federal counterpart, Julian Fantino, a Conservative won the riding by 18,000 votes. Federally, the riding is very blue, while provincially it is very red. Personality is big in this riding, and that's why winning the seat when it's open is very important. Fantino was lucky enough to win Vaughan in a by-election two years ago by just 900 votes. He proved to be so popular, that he turned this into an 18,000 vote victory in last year's federal election, just 5 months after the by-election. However, just five months later, those same voters gave Sorbara an 11,000 vote victory in the provincial election.

The Liberals best part of the riding of the riding is the community of Maple, in the riding's east end. This is where the federal party won most of their small handful of polls in the federal election, and where Sorbara did the best provincially. The Liberals next best part of the riding is in Woodbridge, in the southwest. The Tories best areas are in the more rural parts of the riding, in the community of Kleinburg in the northwestern corner of the riding and along the eastern border of the riding, bordering Richmond Hill.

Running for the Liberals is Steven Del Duca, a former executive assistant of Sorbara. Running for the Tories again is Tony Genco, who was their candidate last election, and ran for the federal Liberals in the federal election five months prior. The NDP is running Paul Donofrio, a former fleet co-ordinator for the city.

In Fort Whyte, I'm going to go out on a limb (sarcasm) and call the Tories the winners there. They won't get the 62% they got last election, because there will be some push back against Pallister who is carpetbagging the district. But, he will get somewhere in the mid-50s. You can except the NDP to get a dead-cat bounce up to around 30%, while the Liberals will also get a boost from a few disgruntled Tories and get back up to double digits.

In Kitchener—Waterloo, I will have to use my thinking cap. It's really a hard call, as clearly either of the three parties could win this. The Tories led in the last poll, and so they look like they're in good position, however it has been a few weeks, and we all know how bad summer polling is. The riding seems like it is a natural Liberal one, at least when the party is polling well, but they're not, so it's not looking good for the Liberals. But if the NDP-Tory vote split is almost even, the Liberals could pick this seat up with barely more than 30% of the vote. Meanwhile, the NDP could easily win this seat. The NDP is notorious for winning surprise by-election victories, and with their new standing across the country, and their high poll numbers provincially, it wont be that much of a surprise if they win it. It will be a test of the party to see if they can start winning seats like this one where they lack a tradition, but may be somewhat left of centre. It's difficult to guess how well the NDP will do here, as they lack any history, having not even won the area in their 1990 majority (my sources tell me they won the area with the present boundaries though). Low 30s would be a good guess. As for the Liberals, I think they wont even break 30%, getting somewhere around 28 or 29%. However, I predict the Tories to win in a nail biter with 34% of the vote.

In Vaughan, it all comes down to the name on the ballot. Tory candidate Genco is already a two time loser, and is a party switcher to boot. Way to alienate half of the electorate. I don't think voters in Vaughan are going to trust him enough to vote for him. He's not a strong candidate like Fantino, and wont have a chance in this Liberal leaning district. I predict the Liberals will get somewhere in the high 40s, while Genco will not be able to improve much on his provincial numbers, getting somewhere in the high 30s. The NDP vote will be severely suppressed, and will be in single digits.

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