As we know, Harper has yet to call the by-election in Toronto Danforth. Given that we're nearing the end of November, it's unlikely to be called now until early in the new year. It must be called by February 26th.
The last prominent mention of the by-election came around October 21st, just about a month ago, when Brian Topp was interviewed by Canadian Press on his campaign and it included this line: "Whether he'd run in Layton's vacant Toronto-Danforth riding depends on whether Harper calls a by-election before the leadership race is over." The leadership is on March 24th. Clearly, if Harper calls it in early January, Topp could run but it would be during the leadership and would detract from his campaign, or, at least carrying on like the rest of the field. It would also be a bit of a risk. While Toronto-Danforth has been strongly NDP and it would be expected to stay that way, you never can predict how an election will turn out, absolutely. There would be a lot of attention on the race, that's for sure. And maybe that attention might help boost Topp's chances of a win in the leadership race if Topp were to win a by-election. So the timing of the by-election will be interesting to watch from that perspective. My theory is that this scenario is way too interesting and so, Harper will deprive us of the possibility.
Also interested in the Toronto-Danforth by-election would be Liberals. An open-primary type experiment in that riding was floated in August and it could still be tried. Now if the by-election had been held by this point and Liberals had gone this route, it might have been a selling point for the debate going on right now over adding open primaries into the leadership mix. Or, who knows, maybe it might have been a mixed result with the experiment. But, of course, we haven't had the by-election and it won't happen now until the first quarter of 2012. So there hasn't been an opportunity to experiment. It still could provide a good look at a primary process, albeit in 2012. Just beyond the convention, unfortunately.
Who knows, maybe Christmas in Toronto-Danforth will be extra special this year...