In every election there always seems to be a handful of ridings where the overall national narrative doesn’t really apply. That is usually the case due to a minor party leaders’ presence, a notable Independent candidate or a big local issue that is playing a particularly big role in the campaign. In recent campaigns we can point to names like Chuck Cadman, Hec Clouthier and André Arthur as Independent candidates who have filled that roll, as has Elizabeth May ever since she became Green Party leader, in the ridings where she had ran in the past.

Thanks to some big events in Ottawa over the past year, the upcoming 43rd General Election promises to be no different. This time around we have a few bigger names that fall into that category, all of which have interesting stories all onto themselves that will make their races ones to watch. It was with that in mind that news about two of those races have come out, bringing interesting potential new twists. Let’s start in Vancouver-Granville and the race that Jody Wilson-Raybould faces:

This is a twist that I don’t think many people saw coming but is interesting none the less. If this story didn’t already have enough twists in it, seeing a former staffer of Wilson-Raybould running for another party surely adds more. The fact that the party she’s running for is Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party though, that is more than just a twist; that’s a surprise. It turns out that she seeked a PPC nomination elsewhere, lost it to Rocky Dong (of this imfamous campaign video) and then was appointed to run in Granville.

I know that some people out there are trying to paint this development as some kind of slap against Wilson-Raybould but sorry folks, it’s not. It’s an odd turn in this story, but it really doesn’t say much about her. Many MPs don’t solely employ hardcore partisans to work for them, and that means that you end up with people from all kinds of backgrounds working for various MPs. So does it shock me to learn that someone who says that she hired says that she is a conservative person? No, because there are conservative-minded people on some issues that work for the Liberals, there are progressive-minded people on other issues that work for the Conservatives, and this is all also true for the NDP, Greens, Bloc and every other party out there. It’s admittedly hard for many to understand why they would work there, but what it’s not is abnormal.

So while this development hits our feeds today, it will be gone in not too long and will become a humorous footnote to this race because the PPC won’t be a factor in Vancouver-Granville, as a riding poll done at the end of May showed. If anything, the PPC candidate there will draw votes away from the Conservatives there and improve the odds of Wilson-Raybould holding onto her seat. But another riding where the PPC expects to be a big factor is in Beauce, where Maxime Bernier is trying to hold onto his seat. There’s a new riding poll out on that riding and it’s an interesting one:

Well folks, it’s a dead heat in the Beauce between Bernier and his old Conservative party, with the Liberals a distant third and the Bloc, Greens and NDP not even a factor. This is one riding that all aggregating sites seem to agree that the PPC has any chance of winning, so to see Bernier in this spot is good for those chances. When you factor in the history of Beauce as a riding, where Bernier’s own father Gilles won as a Mulroney PC and then as an Independent in 1993, this puts the PPC in a decent position to hold onto this seat. Plus, we know that Bernier knows how to get attention, as this radio ad from the last campaign that went viral shows us:

As the campaign gets running, you can be sure that the PPC will throw as much of their resources as they can at this seat because in effect, the race in Beauce is the de facto race to ensure their party continues to exist after this campaign. It’s hard for any party to continue to exist with no seats in Parliament, so this is the fight for everything for the PPC. And for the Conservatives this fight is just as important, as ending the PPC in this campaign eliminates a big problem for them on their right. If Bernier wins, that threat remains and could continue to grow, potentially doing what Preston Manning managed to do in the 90’s. So for each of these parties, this poll brings a mixed bag of news, but none of that news is devastatingly bad, which I think both parties will be alright with in this environment.

With approximately 72 days until Election Day, we’ll surely hear more about ridings like these, especially in this tight national race that looks more and more like it will produce a minority Parliament. In that environment, the results in ridings like these will be all the more important and could have a huge impact on what happens in the 43rd Parliament. We’ll see what happens but so far, it promises to not be boring, that’s for sure.