The mini-election of 2013

Four days away from four by-elections
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, September 17, 2013., with new Liberal candidate for Toronto Centre Chrystia Freeland. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The by-election in Brandon-Souris now includes a written appeal from the Prime Minister, in which Mr. Harper stresses the importance of Monday’s vote.

On November 25th you have an important decision to make. Don’t let anyone tell you this by-election doesn’t matter—there is a lot on the line.

In Toronto-Centre, meanwhile, there are leaked emails, celebrity endorsements, a debate about economic policy and an op-ed by NDP MP Megan Leslie. And, of course, some concern about tone, a concern that extends to the other races as well.

Here is The Agenda’s debate with the four candidates in Toronto-Centre.

The public polling in the four ridings to be decided next week has been, as Eric Grenier notes, relatively stable. Presuming Provencher will remain Conservative, the focus is two-fold: first as to how the Liberals and New Democrats are faring against each other in the urban domains of Montreal (Bourassa) and Toronto (Toronto-Centre), second as to whether or not the Liberals can pull together enough votes to pull off an upset in Brandon-Souris.

The Liberal share of the vote in Brandon-Souris has steadily declined since 2004, falling to just 5.4% in 2011. Conservative Merv Tweed, conversely, took 64% of the vote two years. But an upset, or the potential for such, would seem to be aided and abetted by four factors: the relative increase in the popularity of the Liberal party, the relative decline in national popularity for the Conservatives amid a prominent scandal, a controversial nomination for the Conservatives in the riding and the fact that the Liberal candidate is the son of a former Progressive Conservative MP who represented the riding from 1953 to 1982.

Or maybe the Liberals won’t have the sort of organization on the ground necessary to pull this off.