On Saturday we saw British Columbians finish their 42nd General Election, which resulted in the re-election of John Horgan’s New Democrats to a good-sized majority government. It was a campaign that was called during this pandemic, joining New Brunswick in holding votes during this public health crisis that didn’t have to be called right at this moment. But in the end, neither campaign made the pandemic worse and beyond increased advanced voting or voting by mail, it went about as normal as usual.
While BC is now out of the way, they weren’t the only ones looking at voting in this strange period. That brings us to today, and something we rarely see in Canada; multiple elections taking place on the same day. Yep, it’s an end of October Pandemic Election-palooza (trademark pending) here in Canada, with the eyes of Canadian politicos trained on two different parts of the country on two different situations. Let’s start with the one general election on the slate, happening out on the Prairies:
Today folks in Saskatchewan wrap up their campaign, the only election out of those that happened this Fall that actually had to happen. The reigning Saskatchewan Party of Scott Moe were at the end of their mandate and after floating the idea of going to the polls in the Spring at the start of the pandemic, they finally went at the last possible moment in the Fall. That was probably for the best when it came to the public health side of things, especially given that the final outcome of that campaign wasn’t something that many were doubting.
The Sask Party has become an electoral juggernaut on the Prairies and even though this is Moe’s first run as leader, they appeared to have very comfortable margins to get another large majority. Their main opponent is the New Democrats led by Dr. Ryan Meili, who has stood out as a very solid leader for the Orange Team. Really nothing was expected to change in this race, but then the race happened. Meili had a very good leaders’ debate, where Moe struggled. That led to the polls starting to tighten over the last two weeks, to the point where we saw polls like that one from Mainstreet above.
While that’s promising for the New Democrats and gives a good chance to make gains in Regina, Saskatoon and possibly in smaller cities like Moose Jaw and Prince Albert, it isn’t likely to bring them to government. Unless something seismic is happening under the polling that on one is seeing, it appears that the Sask Party will get another majority government. It’s mostly because that the Sask Party had such a large lead in this race all along that most haven’t paid attention to it; honestly there hasn’t been a lot of drama to this race to speak of. So to see it get tighter here at the end not only shows that campaigns to matter (even in a pandemic), but it also shows that politicians can’t take anything for granted. And with that, lets look at the second set of elections today, where that whole “not taking things for granted” advice gets completely blown up:
While folks in Saskatchewan cast their ballots in a race that had to happen today, people in the Toronto ridings of Toronto Centre and York Centre will also cast their ballots, in by-elections that didn’t have to happen for another five months. Yes, the Prime Minister rushed these by-elections out the door fast, appointing candidates in each of these ridings while cutting out their local members chances to choose their own candidates. It was the kind of thing that might create reasons for a party to lose that by-election, but even in a pandemic, that won’t happen in either of these ridings.
Toronto Centre is a foregone conclusion, as this has been a Liberal stronghold for the longest time. It’s long been a landing pad for star Liberal candidates, the role of which is being played by TV personality Marcie Ien this time. And despite of some troubling past Twitter comments treading on 9/11 conspiracy theories (amazingly that Tweet is still there as I write this), she seems to be right on track to win easily. The New Democrats are the usual challengers in this riding and have put up a strong campaign, while the Greens have run their new leader Annamie Paul, in the riding where she ran last time and got 7%. Despite her clearly partisan attacks on the New Democrats for not stepping aside (when the only way she was going to get a free run into Parliament was if the Liberals stepped aside), she will not be winning here today either.
As for York Centre, it will likely be a Liberal win with candidate Ya’ara Saks most likely to replace outgoing Liberal Michael Levitt. But this riding is less of a sure thing than Toronto Centre for the red team, as the Conservatives did hold it prior to 2015. That makes this a race where the Conservatives are trying to put their best foot forward, but their candidate Julius Tiangson had his own social media controversy involving American VP candidate Kamala Harris. That might have sunk any small chances the O’Toole Tories had of picking this seat up, but I guess time will tell today. Also of note is that Maxime Bernier is running for his People’s Party in this riding, in a desperate attempt to get back into Parliament. That sideshow won’t bring that result and it will be curious to see just how few votes he actually gets in this vain attempt to run.
So while today we’re getting a rare spurt of electoral action, there won’t be any surprises today. In fact, it should be quite uneventful as these races that have mostly flown under the radar stay there. We’ll see if that actually turns out to be the case, but at the very least this makes for an interesting diversion in these strange pandemic days.