I guess all of Kathleen Wynne's tough talk regarding Stephen Harper and his negative effect on Ontario has made the Prime Minister itchy for some election action of his own. That might be why four federal by-elections are now scheduled for June 30, just over three weeks after the Ontario general election on June 12.
Two by-elections will take place in Alberta, in the ridings of Fort McMurray-Athabasca and MacLeod, and to say that they're the Conservatives to lose is an understatement. In Fort McMurray-Athabasca, the seat's been held by a Conservative (or Reform or Alliance) MP since the riding's creation in 1968, and incumbent Brian Jean won with 72 per cent of the vote in 2011. Meanwhile in MacLeod, departing MP Ted Menzies has won every election since 2004 with over 75 per cent of the vote, so chances are that these are probably safe, Conservative ridings.
The two Toronto ridings are where things really get interesting. Trinity-Spadina is particularly high-profile being Olivia Chow's old riding. For the Liberals, an equally high-profile Toronto politician in the form of Adam Vaughan is hoping to turn this part of Toronto red, while Joe Cressy, who has a handful of NDP-friendly bona fides like working with Doctors Without Borders, the Stephen Lewis Foundation, and I Heart Public Transit, will aim to succeed Chow on Parliament Hill.
Moving east to Scarborough-Agincourt, the Liberals look to keep their quarter-century streak going by electing a new MP to succeed Jim Karygiannis, who's held the riding since its inception in 1988. Karygiannis, who won the 2011 election with 45 per cent, significantly down from his all-time high of 70 per cent in the 2000 general election, has decided to run for a seat in Ward 39 for Toronto City Council.
Like most by-elections, the balance of power isn't in play with the results of this election, but the timing is interesting so far as Ontario's concerned. The candidates in Trinity-Spadina and Scarborough-Agincourt are going to be spending the next month swimming upstream against the provincial election, and then they'll be asking voters to go to the polls on what, for many people, will be a four day weekend. Harper gets points for shrewd scheduling, but one wonders if it will even be a factor considering how entrenched the politics are in these ridings. I guess we'll find out for certain on June 30.