Thursday, July 05, 2007

Quadra is getting interesting...fall by-election?

Long-time Liberal MP Stephen Owen announced today he will be vacating his seat in Vancouver-Quadra at the end of the month to take an academic post at UBC.

Owen had already announced his intention not to run again so that’s not a surprise, but with Owen resigning with no general election in the offing it does set the scene for a very interesting by-election, and one that will be very important for both the Liberals and the Conservatives.

While the riding has been Liberal for some time (John Turner ran and won there as PM) and Owen carried the riding handily in 2006 (by some 12,000 votes over a high profile Conservative candidate, Stephen Rogers) it’s has been Conservative in the fairly recent past and it’s a riding that the Conservatives, and others, view as poachable. Often described as “tony”, while it includes UBC it also has Point Grey and it’s a wealthy and highly educated riding.

The Liberals already have a candidate selected in the riding in Joyce Murray, a former provincial environment candidate that ran unsuccessfully for the Liberals in New Westminster-Coquitlam in 2006.

According to the Sun the Conservatives don’t have a candidate yet. John Reynolds, the former Conservative MP, campaign co-chair and current lobbyist (who I guess is banned from the Conservative war room) is touting businesswoman and BC Cancer foundation chairman Mary McNeil as a star candidate, but unless she gets an appointment (or they pull a Cutler) she’ll face a challenge from UBC professor Deborah Meredith, who has a lot of old Conservative backing in Senators Pat Carney and a bbq-less Gerry St. Germain, plus the past candidate and even everyone's favourite reformer, Deborah Grey.

So before we even get to a by-election it looks like a rather interesting battle for the Conservative nomination, with some Conservative titans battling it out in the backrooms. We’ll have to watch and see how it plays -- or isn’t allowed to play -- out.

And when we do get to a by-election the results could be quite telling. Even though it is currently a Liberal riding, a by-election win in a riding the Conservatives are targeting would be a big boost, and getting Murray into parliament would be great. For the Conservatives, a win in an upper middle class riding like Quadra (and taking it from the Liberals) would help boost their desire to portray themselves as a new kind of CPC.

Let the campaigning begin. The only question is when will Deceiven’ Stephen pull the trigger? He has six months from July 27th. There’s also Jean Lapierre’s riding in Quebec to be filled, the clock is ticking there too...

P.S. No matter who wins in Quadra the odds look good that the HoC will be gaining another female MP, and that's a good thing.

UPDATE: Dan raises a highly plausible conspiracy theory.

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Jason Hickman said...

I lived in Quadra when I was at UBC from '94 to '97, and you're right - it's a very interesting riding. In '97, it was one of only 2 ridings in BC where the PC Party candidate (Geoff Chutter) won his deposit.

Given Owen's margins of victory, this would seem to be a fairly Liberal seat, but the Tories are going to go hard after it, I figure. I don't know anything about J. Murray; do you think running and losing in another riding may be a bit of a hinderance?

(And not to quibble too much, but the last time a Tory won the seat was in 1980, so to say that VQ "has been Conservative in the fairly recent past" may be pushing it a bit....)

Jeff said...

Heh, I had written it as hasn't been Conservative in the recent past but I was thought people would say 1980 was recent, so I compromised and said in the fairly recent past. I guess it depends on the definition of the world fairly... :)

On riding-hoping yeah, I agree I'm not a fan of it. Not sure if it will be an issue in the riding though. It would be a mistake for the Cons to make it one though, we'd just throw back their riding-hoping star candidate, Peter Kent.

burlivespipe said...

At least Murray has ties with this riding -- she lives there now and she grew up there.
My former MP Forseth had dubious ties to the riding but at least moved there sometime during his long and useless term. We ran a top-notch candidate in Dave Haggard against him in 2004 and it was the closest 3-way race in Canada (dave didn't live in the riding)... The NdP candidate who came second by 120-some votes, by the way, is now a liberal.

Jason Hickman said...

To older folks - measured in "Blog/Internet" years, I hasten to add, where being 30+ means you're older than dirt - 1980 is still "fairly recent". But for the youngsters around here in these blogging parts, if you tell 'em a man won a seat in 1980, they'll assume it was Wilfred Laurier.

I don't think Murray will be hurt too much at all by losing in Riding A and running in Riding B, but if there is any effect, it would be more pronounced in a by-election, where the local candidates get a bit more attention / scrutiny, than in a general election, where even more of the focus is on the national campaign / leaders.

As for throwing around Peter Kent's name, you're assuming most sensible people in Vancouver give a tinker's damn what happens in Toronto. As I was thrilled to see when I lived in Vancouver, that isn't often the case.

Jeff said...

These things seem to be less important in urban ridings, or at least that has been my experience. But people living in one riding and working in another isn't uncommon in big cities. And as burl said she lives there now and has roots. Time will tell.

As for Peter, perhaps, but then again it's been my experience that 2/3s of Vancouverites moved there from Toronto. I went the other way, part of free trade.