The Liberals have been putting the positive spin on keeping 3 of 4 seats in the byelection. There are now two more women in Parliament and they managed to avoid the embarrassment of losing another Liberal safe seat. The Conservatives are proud to add another seat while showing strong in Vancouver Quadra. The Green Party also held strong demonstrating that parties who fail to address the environment will have to deal with Green Party vote splitting. The NDP did not show well, emphasising how crowded things are on the left side of the political spectrum.
While publicly showing pride in the victories, Dion should be taking note on applying some of the lessons from the results.
Toronto Centre - When Bob Rae was booted out of office after running Ontario into the ground the NDP brand was damaged to the point that it will still be many years before many voters would ever consider voting NDP again. Rae has shown that it is possible to learn from mistakes and rebuild a political career even as disastrous as his. With the right strategy Dion may still be able to pick up credibility on the environmental portfolio.
Willowdale - Before yesterday, Martha Hall Findlay's political career consisted of losing twice to Belinda Stronach and pretending to be a contender for the Liberal leadership. Through these losses she has managed to build her reputation up to 'star candidate' status. The experience gained from losing can be used to launch a successful political career. Both Toronto ridings prove that it is possible to make a political comeback no matter how badly you screw up. Perhaps that is why John Tory is still hanging in as Ontario Conservative leader.
Desnethé--Missinippi - Churchill River - Stephane Dion has made it a priority to get more women to Ottawa. His strategy is to use his power as party leader to appoint hand picked candidates. He has also been shifting the party to the left. It seemed logical that a female, former NDP Provincial cabinet minister, that was just reelected would be a far better choice than the male candidate chosen by local riding association. On a number of occasions Dion has shown poor judgement in choosing hand picked candidates. The voters showed their displeasure by electing male Conservative Rob Clarke. The Liberals should adopt a new strategy for getting more female candidates.
Vancouver Quadra - This was supposed to be a safe Liberal riding. Voter turnout was the highest of the 4 ridings. The Liberals managed to hold on by a mere 151 votes. On the positive side Dion recognized that the seat was in trouble and made it a point to announce his support for a carbon tax that will not be called a tax in Vancouver last Friday. This was an excellent leadership decision that probably went a long way to holding the seat. The Liberals are having trouble holding on to their safe seats. They need to figure out why they have been alienating their core voters. It could be policy or it could be the politicking antics over scandals that are getting the party nowhere. These numbers need to be examined closely.
The byelections were a tiny snapshot of how some people feel the government is doing. The important thing is for the politicians to take to heart the messages the voters have been trying to send Ottawa. This will lead to better policy and better quality campaigns when the time comes for a federal election. The better the quality of each parties policies the better the outcome for Canada as a whole.