Byelections aren’t usually the most exciting event in the world of politics, but tonight’s is particularly noteworthy because it looks to replace the seat of former NDP leader/savior Jack Layton. As anyone who cares about Canadian politics will recall, the NDP had a historical showing in the last federal election, achieving a record number of seats in the House of Commons and (I’ll use the media’s agreed-upon word) eviscerating the Liberals in the process.
The question is now whether Jack’s legacy will assure that the seat stays in the NDP’s hands, or if alternatively, there is a chance the Libs will scoop up the seat.
The leading contender is the NDP’s Craig Scott, a law professor at York University, and as we like to discuss in the newsroom but never in print, the quintessential social democrat: he has a long history of championing progressive causes such as eliminating poverty and environmentalism, is openly gay, and even once ran an art gallery. Talk about credentials.
On the flipside, the Liberal’s Grant Gordon is an advertising executive with a knack for hipster scarves and really great teeth. Like seriously, you can’ mess with the guy in a photo op.
In all fairness (and semi-seriousness), the Liberals have been hitting the ground really hard. I get emails pretty much daily from Gordon’s campaign team trumpeting Liberal interim leader Bob Rae making appearances in the riding, or oddly enough, interim media darling Justin Trudeau as a substitute. However, it seems they’ve largely been focusing on small businesses and the media in order to raise the Liberal profile; a friend of mine in the riding who also works in the media said the NDP have knocked on her door five times in the last few weeks. She didn’t get any visits from the Liberals. Hmm.
To round off the pack are the Conservative’s Andrew Keyes and the Green’s Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu. I don’t really have anything interesting to say about these candidates except that it’s fairly safe to say they won’t win.
The Dippers and Grits are both putting a lot of resources into this riding. The NDP have taken out a few subway platform ads, which can’t be cheap ,and the Liberals have purchased several large billboard ads with a beaming Bob Rae who informs voters the party is listening, changing, and wants people back. They really, really want that seat back (before Layton, the seat was Liberal red for 16 years).
Generally I’d say this is a shoe-in for the Dippers but I have a feeling the Liberal candidate will do better than people expect. Not enough to win, but enough to put up a decent fight and raise the Liberal’s profile. Or he’ll get completely obliterated. Either/or.