Federal by-election March 17 (5)
The two in Toronto were safe Liberal seats from which the previous members, the Honourable Bill Graham (former interim leader of the party) and the Honourable Bill Peterson (brother of the former Premier of Ontario) stepped aside to make room for Liberal leadership contestants Bob Rae (former New Democratic Party (NDP), socialist, Ontario Premier, 1990-95) and Martha Hall-Findlay.
The Saskatchewan seat was courted by David Orchard, former Progressive Conservative and now Liberal, and Dion supporter until he was dumped, then replaced by Joan Beatty, by none other than… Dion. The reason given by Dion was that there need to be more women in the house. Good reason, bad timing.
Vancouver Quadra, formerly the riding of Liberal John Turner, briefly Prime Minister, was pulling majorities of 13,000 votes for the Libs during the last two elections, had a former British Columbia Environment Minister Joyce Murray as a prize candidate. What should have been a snap turned out to be a victory of only 150 votes.
In Toronto-Centre, Bob Rae's new riding, the Conservative candidate was Reverend Don Meredith, a Pentecostal minister who had been in business. For the first time the Tories came third, even behind the socialist NDP. He was the kind of Conservative that would fit well in the west of Canada. The last Conservative (then Progressive Conservative) to be a member of Toronto-Centre (then Rosedale) was former Toronto Mayor David Crombie who most thought was really an NDP (he wasn't though, honest) so a true conservative doesn't really work there.
In Willowdale riding, Martha Hall-Findlay's new home, the Conservative was Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's cousin. She did much better than Toronto-Centre, but then Willowdale is well more conservative. Interestingly the Green Party beat the NDP in Willowdale riding and came in third.
What probably delights Dion, however, is that he will have two powerful frontbenchers in Rae and Hall-Findlay. And heaven knows he needs them.