By elections can be a good way to get insight into how voters feel about the current government. As the outcome will not change the balance of power, voters have more freedom to express their political feelings. They are often considered a referendum on the governing party more than a reflection of the outcome of a possible general election. The result of Monday's by elections were the Conservatives picking up 2 seats. One from the Bloc and one Independent (for all intensive purposes this was a Conservative seat). The Bloc and NDP each held a seat and the Liberals came in 3rd in every riding. Each party is trying to put a positive spin on the results.
The Conservative seats demonstrate that the can still compete for seats in Quebec and recent controversies have not hurt them too much. They are now only 5 seats short of a majority government putting them in good position to hold on to power in a general election. This should put to rest election fever that had been gripping the opposition parties at different points during the year. This could also give them a little more leverage as they continue to work in the confines of a Minority Government.
The NDP picked up popular support. While it does not indicate that they are ready to knock out the Liberals for Official Opposition status it shows that they do have support for not pulling the plug on the government. Canadians care more about results then swaying with the most recent poll.
The Liberals failed to compete in ridings that they didn't really have a chance to win. The fact that they didn't perform better does not indicate the party is in trouble. However, a strong showing would have been a huge boost for the Liberals.
The Bloc losing a seat just shows that the province will be wide open in the next election. They may still be able to dominate but they will need to be ready for a tough battle. Losing even a handful of seats could be enough for the Conservatives to form a majority government.
The Green Party could not break 5% in any riding. Considering the amount of attention enviornmental issues and it was a by election they should have put up a strong showing. This does not bode well for the Green Party dream to finally win a seat. They are probably going to need to revaluate their stratgey after the next election.
The message that has been delivered to Ottawa is that Canadian's are content with the current government arrangement. An election will not knock the Conservatives out of power. The NDP are doing an effective job in opposition. The Liberals are holding on based their history then the role they would like to play as Government in waiting. The weakness in Bloc support has been exposed. The Green Party continues to be insignifacant on the political landscape. Combining all these messages together is that the government should get back to work and put thoughts of election fever on the back burner.