How the West can be won
[PoliticsWatch posted 5:00 p.m. August 25, 2005]
|The Liberals reportedly have their sites on
gaining seats in Western Canada and the Vancouver region is
one area where they could make inroads.
Al Ducharme, Sukh Dhaliwal and Mary Pynenburg may not be household names, but the Liberal Party of Canada is pinning their hopes of a majority government on candidates such as these in the upcoming federal election.
According to the Globe and Mail's Jane Taber, at the Liberal caucus retreat in Regina this week, David Herle, the co-chair of the Liberal election campaign, told an election-readiness meeting of MPs that the party's hopes of a majority victory in the campaign will be based on seat gains in Ontario and the West.
The Prime Minister later denied the Liberals planned on not trying
to gain seats in Quebec.
Taber reported Herle told the MPs, with gains in these regions, the Liberals could possibly win a majority without gains in Quebec.
But Herle admitted the strategy was a risky one and warned MPs "either we win a majority or we could lose entirely."
According to the Globe report, Herle, a pollster by trade, made the presentation without numbers to back up his claims.
A similar story in the Toronto Star reported Herle said the Liberals could pick up eight to 10 seats in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and make major gains in B.C.
However, a PoliticsWatch examination of 2004 election results shows the
estimate of eight to 10 seats in the two prairie provinces is optimistic.
In all of Western Canada, there were only 10 ridings where the Liberals came in second by 2,500
votes or less. Five were in B.C., three in Manitoba and two in Saskatchewan.
And if the Liberals were to pick up those seats they would also have to hold on to five seats in Western Canada that they won a margin of less than 2,500 votes. Three of those seats are held by cabinet ministers
-- Anne McLellan, David Emerson and Ethel Blondin-Andrew.
In effect, for the Liberals to offset losses in Quebec and make gains out West, a rising tide of Liberal support will have to spread across Western Canada, which will allow the Liberals to hold onto five seats it narrowly won and gain an additional 10 seats.
This rosy scenario would offset losses in Quebec where the Liberals could easily lose up to 10 of its 21 seats if Adscam anger lingers in the province.
In essence, the Liberals have 133 of the 155 seats needed for a
majority. To regain a majority under this scenario, they would have to pick up 22 of the 32 seats in Ontario that the party does not currently hold.
For the party to do that, it must maintain the 30 seats it won by 6,000 votes or less and win 22 ridings it came in second by less than 6,000 votes. Under this scenario, more than half of the province's ridings would have to be considered in play.
Here is a breakdown of the ridings in Western Canada, which the Liberals finished second by less than 2,500
votes or how the West can be won by the Liberals.
The Liberals are in position to gain up to five seats in British Columbia - three from the Conservatives and two from the NDP.
Bill Cunningham, executive director of the B.C. minister's regional office in Vancouver, is probably the most high profile candidate in the 10 potential Liberal ridings in Western Canada. Cunningham was defeated by NDP MP
Bill Siksay by just 934 votes in the Burnaby-Douglas riding. The riding was held for years by former NDP MP
The Liberals could also pick up NDP MP Peter Julian's Burnaby New Westminster riding, which he won by just 329 votes over city planner
Mary Pynenburg. According to the election tracking Web site Nodice.ca, Pynenburg will be running in the next election against Julian. The riding is a former Liberal riding, held by former cabinet minister
Key as to whether the Liberals will be able to pick up these two seats in B.C. is whether they can make a stronger argument to NDP voters that a vote for the NDP is effectively a vote to put the Conservative party in power. The Liberals used that tactic to great effect in the last federal election in the final days. But sometimes, that had the effect of splitting the NDP and Liberal vote in ridings in Western Canada, allowing the Conservatives to win the seats.
Three Conservative ridings are also there for the taking for the Liberals. Both ridings held by
Nina Grewal and Gurmant Grewal were in play before the MPs became embroiled in a media storm after Mr. Grewal alleged he and his wife were offered diplomatic postings by senior Liberals if they abstained on the key budget vote in May. Nina Grewal won the Fleetwood - Port Kells riding by 2,484 votes in the 2004 election over physician
Gulzar Cheema. Cheema will be running again for the Liberals. And Gurmant Grewal won his Newton North Delta riding by an even smaller margin - 520 votes - over businessman
Sukh Dhaliwal. Dhaliwal is also running again.
The other Conservative riding is being vacated by Conservative MP John Reynolds -- West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country (Yes, that is the real name of the riding) - who is retiring from politics. Reynolds had quite a battle on election night and won the riding by just 1,687 votes over accountant
Blair Wilson. Wilson is running again and the Conservatives will be running activist lawyer
The Liberals have little chance of making inroads in Alberta based on their 2004 election results. Independent MP
David Kilgour's riding could be up for grabs, but Kilgour has won the riding based on
his popularity with constituents. The closest the Liberals came to winning another seat in Alberta was in Edmonton Strathcona, where Tory MP
Rahim Jaffer won by a margin of over 5,000 votes.
Finance Minister Ralph Goodale is the only Liberal MP currently from the province, but two Conservative ridings could swing to the Liberals.
Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River MP Jeremy Harrison who was 26 years old at the time, won by just 1,464 votes in a riding held by Liberal MP
Rick Laliberte. Hairston defeated consultant Al Ducharme who will take another crack
at it for the Liberals in the next election.
The Liberals best chance in all of Western Canada is the riding of Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre, currently held by Conservative
Tom Lukiwski. Lukiwski defeated farmer Gary Anderson by just 122 votes. However, Lukiwski's
small-c conservative vote was hampered by former Canadian Alliance MP
Larry Spencer, who won 1,500 votes as an independent. Spencer won the riding in the 2000 election, but was bumped from caucus by
Stephen Harper for comments he made about homosexuals.
The Liberals have three of the province's 14 seats, but could be in position to double that number.
Conservative MP Joy Smith won her Kildonan-St. Paul riding by just 270 votes on election night 2004 over Liberal
Terry Duguid. Duguid is running again for the Liberals. NDP MP
Bev Desjarlais, who was stripped of her critics duties after voting against her party on the government's gay marriage legislation, won the Churchill riding by 1,008 votes over Liberal candidate and band chief
Ron Evans, who is also running again.
One seat the Liberals almost won was Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia, which is currently held by Conservative health critic
Stephen Fletcher by 734 votes. However, Fletcher defeated one of the Liberal star candidates, former Winnipeg Mayor
Glen Murray and Murray isn't expected to run again. If Fletcher was able to defeat a star candidate he will most likely do better against a lesser-known candidate after having over a year of experience in Ottawa.
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