Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dalton McGuinty's Giant Sigh of Relief

I need to start this off with the mandatory "by elections are meaningless blah blah blah" disclaimer. And, at first glance, it's hard for results to look any less meaningless than what we got:

Hoskins (Lib) - 47% (--)
Levy (PC) - 29% (+2%)
Heller (NDP) - 17% (+1%)
Chopik (GP) - 5% (-3%)

Ho hum. Toss in the low voter turn-out (I'd project it out to be about 33% when all the votes are counted) and the fact that the Liberals didn't have to face a Wild Rose Alliance candidate, and this looks like just a run of the mill Liberal hold.

But the ingredients were all in place for an upset. Consider:

1. A long time, high profile, popular incumbent leaves office
2. A two-term government with a comfortable majority (safe to "send a message")
3. HST
4. OLG
5. E-Health
6. Did I mention HST?
7. A new Tory leader

And, yeah, the former Liberal MPP is facing manslaughter charges.

So this could have been a disaster for McGuinty. Instead, he gets a convincing win, which should stem any momentum Tim Hudak may have been building, and earn McGuinty a far more favourable narrative than he would have gotten had St. Paul's fallen.

Oh, and lost in all the above analysis is the fact that a great humanitarian, Dr. Eric Hoskins, is now an MPP. This is a guy who has given his life to helping heal children in war zones around the world. I was door knocking tonight with a University friend of Eric's who first met him in Ethiopia, and he couldn't stop saying great things to say about Eric. Quite simply, this man is in politics for all the right reasons, and we need more people like Eric Hoskins involved in the political process. So maybe it's best to look past the spin and just focus in on that.

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8 Comments:

  • oh you silly albertan, we don't have MLAs, even former ones!

    By Blogger Mikael, at 12:17 AM  

  • But tell us about the federal implications of this crucial provincial by-election!

    By Anonymous has one, at 12:25 AM  

  • Mikael - Gack! Fixed.

    has one - I'll leave that to the Toronto Star...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:46 AM  

  • I guess one conclusion we can draw is that the Green Party is for all intents and purposes DEAD. They had their little boomlet last time when the media thought that Elizabeth may was the latest "novelty"....but now that the media is paying them any attention any more...they are falling off the map.

    This is further evidence that if you see any polls that give the Green Party double digits - either nationally or provincially - divide by 2 and you get what they will actually get. If Ekos says they are at 9% nationwide - translation, they are at 4.5%

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:57 AM  

  • The notion that St. Paul's is a swing riding is ridiculous. It hasn't gone Tory since the rules of Ontario were different (ie. in 1995, when among other things, my riding of Parkdale-High Park went Tory).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 6:37 PM  

  • What's up with putting "Dr. Eric Hoskins" on his signs? I'd almost be tempted to vote against him merely to keep him working as a doctor given how we have a shortage in this province.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:17 PM  

  • I think the problem is that voters saw through the demagoguery over the HST. The PC candidate insisted it was a massive tax grab while the Liberal responded with reasoned facts.

    I suspect that when the populist card gets played one should expect a status quo result. Although good but complex policy will not routinely win out over bad but simple policy, bad but simple has a hard time making gains without the traction of arguments that appeal to the pundits. The low info voters make some casual observations and then react as they traditionally do, for or against. The various camps retrench, go through the motions of another skirmish, and life goes on.

    It is when there is something substantive in the background that catches on with the political junkies that one can have a breakout. There was no expert support behind the opposition to the HST and so the anti-HST theme could only go so far.

    The Calgary Glenmore surprise, on the other hand, came after a summer where the chattering classes had been talking up the Wildrose Alliance. As someone involved with the party I knew that the "professionalization" of the party, the bringing in of white collar engineers and finance types to balance out the rural roots, had been going on for several months. I in fact expected to see more chit chat about the WRA positioning more urban and cosmopolitan and how that created a contrast with the perception of the Stelmach government, but I think this little discussed meme nonetheless soaked down to the street level and onto the radar of Glenmore voters.

    By Blogger Brian Dell, at 7:45 PM  

  • That black jacket on the left of the photo beside Hoskins' hand is me. Man the media just can't get enough of me these days.

    By Anonymous Justin Tetreault, at 10:51 AM  

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