Sunday, October 21, 2012

By-election palooza: It is on for November 26th

On a Sunday morning, prime time for political news after all, the PM has called the by-elections that need to be called to fill the vacancies in the House of Commons due to various resignations: "Harper calls 3 byelections for Nov. 26." I don't know why he didn't get this out of the way Friday at midnight like the other significant business his government conducted at the witching hour. But I suppose Sunday morning is the next best thing.

These three by-elections address the ridings affected by the resignations of Lee Richardson, Calgary-Centre on May 30, Bev Oda, Durham, on July 3 and Denise Savoie of Victoria on August 23.

The elephant in the room remains the Etobicoke-Centre riding which is in limbo until this Thursday, October 25th at 9:45 a.m. when the Supreme Court of Canada will finally issue its decision in that litigation. The court will either uphold the lower court ruling that would require a by-election or it will overturn it.

Mr. Harper has decided, however, not to wait a few days to see what the Supreme Court will say. Waiting would have made sense, as he is fully aware that the decision is coming. He could then have called all the by-elections required on the heels of whatever the court decides. It would actually be a reasonable thing to do, to wait. It would be a polite signal to the court given that the court just announced at the end of this past week that the Etobicoke-Centre decision is coming.

So why not wait for the Supreme Court? It's probably a little reflection of the ongoing antipathy between the right wing and their agitation against unelected judges having any kind of say on democratic matters. You're going to decide Etobicoke-Centre, well then, I'm going to set my by-election timings irrespective of what you decide. So there's that.

Also, it could very well be that while they won't admit it, the Conservatives want to work for time in Etobicoke-Centre. It's likely the most difficult race they'll face among all of these by-elections. Their party won't be a strong factor in Victoria. The Conservatives will likely hang on, however, in Durham and Calgary-Centre. So get a few wins under their belt and bolster their chances to hold Etobicoke-Centre - if the by-election occurs - is what they may be thinking.

For if they were to lose Etobicoke-Centre, it would be highly symbolic. It would be a permanent marker against the Harper government's democratic bona fides and a major part of the narrative of this government's anti-democratic tendencies would be cemented. Borys Wrzesnewskyj walking the halls of Parliament would be a daily reminder of that.