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Trudeau Liberals Lose By-Election in Riding They Held for 30 Years

First, CSSA sends our hearty congratulations to MP-elect Don Stewart, who did what so many political pundits said was impossible. He won.

Those of us who follow politics closely went to bed last night thinking Justin Trudeau’s candidate in Toronto–St. Paul’s managed to hold on, despite a valiant charge by Conservative Candidate Don Stewart.

From iPolitics Tuesday morning “Top Stories” email:

The federal Liberals appear poised to narrowly avoid a historic upset in a closely watched byelection on Monday, pushing back against a surprisingly strong Conservative challenge that jeopardized a central Toronto riding the party has held for decades.”

iPolitics was a little too caught up in their own need to announce the winner before all the ballots were counted.

Upon waking up Tuesday morning, news reports greeted us with the happy result that Don Stewart beat his Liberal rival (who had the entire Liberal cabinet’s support in the riding throughout the campaign) by almost 600 votes.

Elections Canada’s final count after all polls reported their results.[i]

ConservativeDon Stewart15,55542.1 %
LiberalLeslie Church14,96540.5 %

Yesterday, the riding of Toronto–St. Paul’s was called “a Liberal stronghold” because it’s one of the few seats the Liberal Party held when they were demoted to third party status in in 2011. 

Today it’s called “the canary in the coal mine” for the Liberal Party’s future demise.

This doesn’t bode well for Justin Trudeau, either within the party he remade in his own image, or for the next federal election. 

Historically, governing parties who lose by-elections in so-called “strongholds” because they lost support of even their most ardent voters.

It appears that Justin Trudeau, arguably the most hated Prime Minister in Canadian history, is poised to lead his party to a resounding defeat even more humiliating as 2011.

That appears to be the case in Toronto–St. Paul’s, and is likely a bellwether of the future electoral disaster ahead for the Liberal Party as a whole, and for Justin Trudeau specifically.

“A 43.52 per cent turnout rate in a by-election is healthy — even high,” wrote Jen Gerson.[ii] “Nobody can chalk that outcome up to numerical wonkery. Conservatives were motivated, and progressives were not. The signal is clear.”

That clarity is only true for those willing to pay attention, and there’s no indication that Justin Trudeau is willing. 

As late as last week, Trudeau insisted he isn’t going anywhere.

Will his arrogance win out?

Will the Liberal caucus force him out?

Will the Liberal Party’s backroom boys finally pull the pin on the sock puppet that’s long overdue for retirement?

All three are great questions. We will know the answer to them all by September, at the latest, and probably a lot sooner than that.

Another point of view is that none of those answers matter. 

Every day that Justin Trudeau desperately clings to power, the more Liberal-inclined voters throw up their hands up in disgust and walk away from the party and their prime minister.

That exodus can only benefit Canada and its citizens, no matter when the election is called.



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