By­elec­tion ap­a­thy ex­pected

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - NEWS CANADA - By Bill Graveland

CAL­GARY — Polls are open in four federal rid­ings Mon­day, the day be­fore the Canada Day hol­i­day, and two po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tists based in Al­berta say turnout could be low in some of the votes, even by by­elec­tion stan­dards.

“It could be that voter turnout col­lapses,” says David Taras, a po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist from Mount Royal Univer­sity in Cal­gary.

“Even by the stan­dard of a nor­mal by­elec­tion where voter turnout is tra­di­tion­ally not very high — this could be less. I think the Tories are ba­si­cally say­ing let’s get this over with.”

With the July 1 hol­i­day fall­ing on a Tues­day this year, many Cana­di­ans are prob­a­bly sneak­ing an ex­tra day off for a four-day weekend in the moun­tains or at the lake.

Paul Fairie from the Univer­sity of Cal­gary says pick­ing a new mem­ber of Par­lia­ment may not be top of mind, es­pe­cially with the Lib­er­als ex­pected to win Scar­bor­ough-Agin­court in the Toronto area and the gov­ern­ing Con­ser­va­tives ex­pected to take the Al­berta seats of Ma­cleod and Fort McMur­ray-Athabasca.

Only the Toronto rid­ing of Trin­i­tyS­pad­ina is re­ally up for grabs be­tween the Lib­er­als and the NDP, Fairie pre­dicts.

He notes by­elec­tion turnout is al­ways about 20 per cent be­low nor­mal and he an­tic­i­pates turnout in Mon­day could be 20 to 30 per cent lower than that.

“For the Con­ser­va­tives, it’s a low-in­ter­est, low-stakes kind of ven­ture. There are more in­ter­est­ing things to think about in the sum­mer than a by­elec­tion.” Taras agrees. “There’s re­ally noth­ing at stake for the Tories in this. They have two safe seats and the other two are re­ally just op­po­si­tion seats where they have no hope.

“So it doesn’t mat­ter whether it’s June 30 or July 30 or Sept. 30. The Tories have very lit­tle at stake.”

The Al­berta rid­ing of Fort McMur­rayAthabasca was va­cated by Con­ser­va­tive MP Brian Jean, who stepped down in Jan­uary, cit­ing a de­sire to spend more time with his fam­ily.

Con­ser­va­tive MP Ted Men­zies re­signed his south­ern Al­berta seat of Ma­cleod last Novem­ber to be­come pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of CropLife Canada, an agri­cul­ture trade as­so­ci­a­tion.

In sub­ur­ban Scar­bor­ough-Agin­court, Lib­eral stal­wart Jim Kary­gian­nis stepped down to run for a seat on Toronto city coun­cil in a ward that over­laps much of the federal rid­ing.

Toronto’s Trin­ity- Spad­ina be­came va­cant when New Demo­crat Olivia Chow, widow of for­mer federal NDP leader Jack Lay­ton, re­signed to chal­lenge Rob Ford for the mayor’s job.

— The Cana­dian Press

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