Quick notes from the still-dark capital, which I will be fleeing in – yikes, less than four hours. Oh, Porter Air, please be as customer-friendly and stress-free as your acolytes insist. I can’t handle airport-related drama this morning.
Anyway, reading the commentary this morning, I can’t help but think that even if the Liberals had managed to win every one of last night’s by-elections, somehow, it would have been seen as a failure of leadership that he didn’t manage to come back with a fifth seat. Which says less about Dion – and Canadian politics, in general – than it does about our shameless love affair with The Narrative. (Oh, that Narrative. It’s so dreamy.)
Really, I’m not sure how much you can really read into the results, as far as Who’s Up and Who’s Down. The Liberals took two in a walk – and, frankly, if they hadn’t, it might’ve actually merited an Outremont-style frenzy of self-flagellation – and managed to hold onto a third, although by the thinnest of margins. But the turnout was – at least, last time I checked – around 25% across the board, which means it’s hard to extrapolate what that might mean next time the whole country goes to the polls.
That also goes for the New Democrats, by the way, whose pundit warriors on CTV and CPAC spent most of last night trying desperately to talk about anything other than the fact that in both Ontario urban ridings, the party was struggling to overtake the Greens for most of the night, which doesn’t exactly auger well for Layton’s leadership. But, as pundits and pollsters were quick to point out, the Greens have become the de facto parking lot for undecided voters — a niche that used to be occupied by the NDP, in fact — which means that the numbers would be very different if it was a matter of electing a Prime Minister, and not just a mid-season replacement MP. (The Narrative, alas, doesn’t allow for such generous interpretation when judging Dion’s performance.)
As for the Conservatives – well, they’ve got to be reasonably chuffed by the surprise win in Saskatchewan — the now elected candidate certainly sounded shocked when interviewed by phone after being declared the winner — not to mention the very close race in Vancouver Quadra, but at the same time, Toronto Centre? Ouch. Willowdale – yes, the party increased its support, but by enough to demonstrate that the strategy of targeting new Canadians and the so-called ‘ethnic’ voting blocs is the secret to winning in urban Canada?