Wednesday, July 2, 2014

On Federal Byelections

It is commonly held that Stephen Harper chose June 30 for the four recent byelections in the anticipation that turnout would be low. Even the advance polls, which were set for Friday and Saturday of what for many would be a long weekend, offered little motivation for the winter-weary to cast their ballots before escaping town. The turnout statistics show that the Prime Minister got his wish:

Fort McMurray-Athabasca (15.2 per cent)
Macleod (19.6 per cent)
Scarborough-Agincourt (29.4 per cent)
Trinity-Spadina (31.6 per cent)

However, according to Tim Harper, not everything worked out according to plan. He points out the following in his column today:

...there is a federal political trend that is unassailable — in nine trips to the polls under Justin Trudeau, Liberal voting percentages have grown nine times, in ridings as diverse as Labrador, downtown Toronto and Montreal, rural Manitoba and rural and northern Alberta.

Having achieved victory in two out of the four contests,

... it is the growth of the Liberal vote in Manitoba and Alberta in contests over the past seven months that could hold an omen for 2015.

In Brandon-Souris last November Trudeau grew the Liberal vote by 39 points, and in rural Provencher he grew his party’s vote by 23 points.

Monday, in the seemingly impenetrable Conservative vaults of Macleod and Fort McMurray-Athabasca, the Liberal vote grew 13 points and 25 points, respectively since the 2011 general election.

These numbers should worry Harper for two reasons. The first is obvious, if indeed a Liberal trend has been developing. The second, more ominous indicator, however, is that Harper's base, at least if the byelection numbers are to be taken as harbingers, are losing their own motivation to turn out at the polls; if this proves an accurate assessment of their mood, implications for the general election next year should be disturbing to Dear Leader.

Having won the 2011 election with 39.2% of the popular vote in which only 61.4% of eligible voters bothered to turn out, Harper knows that two things are eseential for next year's contest: a low general turnout and a high turnout from his base.

It would seem that the second part of his strategy needs some work. The first falls to the rest of us, if we indeed truly care about this country and its future.


  1. Harper used every dirty trick in the book; and failed with each.

    Attacking Trudeau because he is only in his forties? Fail.

    Trying to supress turnout by manipulating voting dates? Fail.

    Attacks on abortion stance? Fail.

    Attack on marijauana stance with ethnic voters? Fail.

    Attack on nomination proceedures? Fail.

    Harper rolled many of these spitballs and had his press poodles throw them only to miss. Reading from the Republican Rove hymnal ? Fail.

    1. We all hope, rumley, that we can add at least one more big FAIL to Harper in 2015.

  2. It would appear that Harper will not dispose of Trudeau as he disposed of Dion and Ignatieff, Lorne.

    1. It is said that Harper's hatred of Trudeau and the Liberals runs deep, Owen. His frustration with the failure of his puerile tactics to reduce his popularity thus far must also run deep.