By-election scorecards: How have party leaders fared?



Since Stephen Harper became leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, he has led his side through 30 by-elections. His party’s record in those by-elections? Pretty good. Conservatives held 7 seats in which they were the incumbent, stole 4 seats from another incumbent party, and suffered 1 loss. In the rest, they were neither the incumbent nor were able to steal.  Continue reading By-election scorecards: How have party leaders fared?

The Ontario PC Party leadership race: Where do MPPs and MPs stand?

Christine Elliott
Christine Elliott announces she is running for the Ontario PC party leader flanked by three of the seven caucus colleagues who have already declared their support for her. They are, from left, Norm Miller, Sylvia Jones, and Michael Harris. (Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)

Usually, though not always, it’s helpful for a prospective party leader to have members of the legislative caucus on his or her side, the more usually the merrier.

Alison Redford won the Alberta PC leadership with little or no caucus support (and look what happened). Justin Trudeau won with dominant caucus support (and we’ll see what happens.)

In 2009, Christine Elliott tried to win the Ontario PC leadership. She had decent caucus support but finished third, well behind winner Tim Hudak who had some dominant caucus support. Elliott announced this week she is back for another kick at the can, and this time, she appears to be attempting  a pre-emptive strike by locking up as much caucus support as possible.

She is the only announced contestant at this point with seven of her caucus colleagues on board. That means that, in a caucus of 28 PC MPPs, 8 (including Elliott) are going to vote for her to be leader — better than one-quarter.

Sylvia Jones is the only one of those seven who, as an MPP, supported Elliott then and will do so again now. Norm Miller was an MPP in 2009 but back then he endorsed Hudak. Now he’s endorsing Elliott. The other five were not MPPs in 2009.

Who else among her current caucus colleagues supported Hudak against her in 2009? Bob Bailey; Toby Barrett; Garfield Dunlop; Lisa MacLeod;   Julia Munro;  Jim Wilson; John Yakabuski; Ernie Hardeman. MacLeod is considered a likely rival … [Watch as I interview MacLeod on Battleground on Sun News Network last night]

The rest of the current PC Party caucus at Queen’s Park was either not around as MPPs in 2009 or did not back anyone (or, in the case of Randy Hillier, ran for the leadership, finished 4th, and said he is not running this time.)

In the case of the Ontario PCs, it’s also interesting to see which members of the current federal Conservative caucus jumped into the race. Elliott is the widow of former finance minister Jim Flaherty and many in Stephen Harper’s caucus and cabinet got their start at Queen’s Park.

Moreover, many names from the current Conservative caucus have been bandied about as potential Ontario party leaders. Those include Lisa Raitt, John Baird, Tony Clement, Michael Chong, Rick Dykstra, and Patrick Brown.

Here are are current Conservative MPs  supported Elliott in 2009: Peter Braid, Colin Carrie, Chong, Ed Holder, Greg Rickford, Bruce Stanton, Peter Van Kesteren, Mike Wallace, Jeff Watson and Terence Young. Elliott’s husband, Flaherty, was the only member of the federal cabinet to support her bid for leader.

Other notables who supported Elliott in 2009: A Toronto city councillor named Rob Ford. And Richard Ciano, how is the current president of the Ontario PCs.


It’s worth reviewing who among current federal Conservatives supported Hudak in 2009:  They included cabinet heavyweights Baird, Jason Kenney, Peter Van Loan, Clement, and Rob Nicholson.

Among backbenchers, the following supported Hudak: Gord Brown, Patrick Brown, Paul Calandra, Barry Devolin, Dykstra, Royal Galipeau, Daryl Kramp, Pierre Poilievre, Joe Preston, Gary Schellenberger, and David Sweet.



Fair to launch attack ads at an opponent who's in re-hab? Chow thinks so

Olivia Chow campaigning
Toronto candidate for mayor Olivia Chow rallies her supporters at the Chestnut Conference Centre in downtown Toronto Sunday. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)

Last night, Olivia Chow unveiled two new radio ads in her campaign to win the job of Mayor of Toronto. The two ads are “attack ads” and they go after the incumbent, Rob Ford. As far as attack ads go, they’re pretty slick and may make you chuckle. Listen to them here: Continue reading Fair to launch attack ads at an opponent who's in re-hab? Chow thinks so

Mission for Ontario's Tories: Figure out how to win Kingston …

As an Ontario Progressive Conservative, Steve Clark is about safe as safe can be in his Eastern Ontario riding of Leeds-Grenville, but how does he – and other Ontario Tories — make more ridings more Tory-friendly? For Clark, the first step is going to the riding next door, Kingston and the Islands, and asking voters there why they don’t like his party.

Let the summer of spending begin!

Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe MP Robert Goguen (centre) in a picture from his MP Web site at recycling facility in Tracadie-Sheila, NB where Goguen presented the facility’s owners with a cheque from the feds for $792,500. Among backbench Conservatives, Goguen was the 2013 Parliamentary Summer #OttawaSpends champ with 11 spending announcements, like this one, totalling $5.2 million.

The House of Commons shuts down today for the summer recess and so begins a summer of government MPs handing out cheques at various festivals and events around the country.

For your information, the Parliamentary Summer last year ran from June 20 to Oct 15 and, over that period, Conservative MPs put their names on 510 spending announcements. The combined value of all those spending announcements was $2.4 billion.

My database that tracks all these spending announcements, by the way, is now at about 4,800 separate spending announcements since 2011 federal election. They range from, say, the awarding of a $500 million contract to a firm in Esquimalt, BC to retro-fit our submarines to $2,000 to organize some studio tours on Saltspring Island, B.C.. Continue reading Let the summer of spending begin!

In Ontario and New Brunswick, the NDP go back to populist roots — with much moaning and whining

We all know about the soi-disant “high-profile” New Democrats who complained in the middle of the recently concluded Ontario election that NDP leader Andrea Horwath had abandoned core NDP principles and, as a result was risking core NDP votes in a crucial election. They “leaked” a letter on May 23 in which they scolded Horwath, saying  “you are abandoning those values and constituencies that the party has always championed.”  My Parliamentary Press Gallery colleague Tim Harper pithily described this as “a manifesto that reads like it was written at an Annex dinner party that went one bottle of red over the line.” In other words, this was the whining of your downtown Toronto NDP, a certain species of New Democrat that has, at times, been more trouble than it’s worth to a party that was born of Prairie populism and sober down-home common-sense 50 years ago. Continue reading In Ontario and New Brunswick, the NDP go back to populist roots — with much moaning and whining

A Conservative MP from B.C. opens up on Northern Gateway: A highly conditional approval

Dan Albas handout
Newly elected in the 2011 general election as the MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla, Dan Albas is welcomed to the House of Commons by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. This photo was taken by a member of the prime minister’s staff.

Dan Albas is the Conservative MP for the riding of Okanagan-Coquihalla, a riding in the south, central part of the province that is a long, long way  from where Enbridge Inc. proposes to build the Northern Gateway Pipeline that will carry as much as 500,000 barrels of Alberta bitumen across the Rockies to the northern B.C. port of Kitimat. Kitimat, incidentally, is in the riding of New Democrat Nathan Cullen, while the pipeline runs through Cullen’s riding and then the ridings of BC Conservative Bob Zimmer (Prince George-Peace River) and Alberta Conservative MPs Rob Merrifield (Yellowhead) and Brian Storseth (Westlock-St. Paul)

Though Albas and his constituents live a long way from the Northern Gateway’s route or port — as do most who live in B.C. — this is a big issue for them. The federal NDP believe that, so far as votes in B.C. go in the 2015 general election, campaigning against the pipeline is electoral gold. Continue reading A Conservative MP from B.C. opens up on Northern Gateway: A highly conditional approval