Trudeau calls three by­elec­tions for Fe­bru­ary

The Prince George Citizen - - Local -

OT­TAWA — The rel­e­vance of the NDP in an elec­tion year will be put to the test next month in fed­eral by­elec­tions called Wed­nes­day by Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau.

Trudeau set Feb. 25 as the date for by­elec­tions in the On­tario rid­ing of York-Sim­coe, Mon­treal’s Outremont and Bri­tish Columbia’s Burn­aby South – where NDP Leader Jag­meet Singh is hop­ing to win a seat in the House of Com­mons.

The lat­ter two will be im­por­tant tests for New Democrats, who’ve been strug­gling to find their foot­ing since their party was relegated to a dis­tant third in the 2015 gen­eral elec­tion, re­vers­ing the NDP’s his­toric 2011 break­through. The NDP has trailed the Lib­er­als and Con­ser­va­tives badly in both fundrais­ing and opin­ion polls ever since - a sit­u­a­tion that ben­e­fits the rul­ing party and wor­ries the Tories, who want a strong NDP to siphon off Lib­eral votes.

For Singh, vic­tory in Burn­aby South is cru­cial, giv­ing him an op­por­tu­nity to raise his pro­file and shake off in­ter­nal crit­i­cism about his lead­er­ship. De­feat could prompt New Democrats to dump Singh and re­place him ahead of the Oct. 21 gen­eral elec­tion.

The rid­ing is no cake­walk for Singh, a for­mer On­tario MPP whose po­lit­i­cal home had been Bramp­ton, north­west of Toronto. Kennedy Ste­wart, now Van­cou­ver mayor, won Burn­aby South for the NDP in 2015 with just over 500 votes more than the Lib­eral con­tender. But Singh will ben­e­fit some­what from the Green party’s de­ci­sion not to field a can­di­date in the by­elec­tion, ex­tend­ing so-called “leader’s cour­tesy” to a leader seek­ing to en­ter Par­lia­ment.

The Lib­er­als, af­ter much in­ter­nal de­bate about whether to stand down, are run­ning day­care op­er­a­tor Karen Wang, while the Con­ser­va­tives are field­ing cor­po­rate lawyer Jay Shin. For­mer talk-show host Lau­raLynn Tyler Thomp­son, who has cham­pi­oned op­po­si­tion to B.C.’s in­clu­sive ap­proach to deal­ing with gen­der iden­tity and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion in schools, is run­ning for the Peo­ple’s Party of Canada.

The race in Outremont, left va­cant when for­mer NDP leader Tom Mul­cair re­signed, will also be seen as a test of whether the NDP can hang on what’s left of the or­ange wave that swept Que­bec in 2011.

Outremont had been a Lib­eral strong­hold un­til Mul­cair scored an up­set in a 2007 by­elec­tion, es­tab­lish­ing an NDP beach­head in Que­bec for the party’s break­through there four years later. Trudeau’s Lib­er­als, who are run­ning well ahead in the polls in Que­bec, are gun­ning to take the seat back.

The Con­ser­va­tives are ex­pected to eas­ily keep York-Sim­coe, left va­cant by the res­ig­na­tion of long­time Tory MP Peter Van Loan.

It re­mains to be seen what im­pact the fledg­ling Peo­ple’s Party of Canada might have. For­mer Tory min­is­ter Maxime Bernier split from the Con­ser­va­tives and cre­ated the new party last sum­mer. Dur­ing the Tories’ 2017 lead­er­ship con­test, Bernier won more sup­port in both Outremont and York-Sim­coe than An­drew Scheer, who wound up edg­ing out Bernier on the fi­nal bal­lot.

Bernier hasn’t named by­elec­tion can­di­dates in ei­ther of those rid­ings but is ex­pected to do so by the end of the week.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.