Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Political Diviners at Work

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Political Diviners at Work

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Political diviners at work

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published Nov. 27:

There are many ways to read the tea leaves from the four federal byelections Monday, but fortune tellers would be wise to avoid divining the future based on Tuesday's results.

The immediate impression was Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau emerged the victor because the party retained its two seats, while dramatically increasing its share of the popular vote across all four.

Of course, the Conservative party also retained its two seats, but its share of the popular vote declined in the four ridings.

The Liberals finished second in both Provencher and Brandon-Souris, where Liberal Rolf Dinsdale came within a whisker of knocking off Conservative Larry Maguire.

In fact, the factors favouring the Liberals in Brandon were so strong, it's fair to ask why they did not win.

Mr. Maguire was not a particularly inspiring candidate, and he suffered an immediate setback following a quarrel over the nomination, which some Conservatives felt he earned unfairly without a contest.

He was criticized repeatedly (and justifiably) for ducking candidate forums, which was perhaps understandable given his party's troubles over the Senate scandals.

His opponent was also bolstered by three visits to the riding by Mr. Trudeau, a popular figure wherever he goes.

A poll also showed Mr. Dinsdale with a huge lead. The survey's sample size and methodology made it unreliable, but the headlines nevertheless predicted an outcome that likely influenced some voters.

The unpopularity of the Manitoba NDP over the PST increase also favoured the Liberals, as evidenced by the complete collapse of NDP support in the riding.

The diviners, then, were justified in anticipating a Liberal victory in Brandon, but as Free Press columnist Deveryn Ross explains on the page opposite, the Grits were defeated, in part, by their own machinations and political missteps.

It was an enormous lost opportunity, since a victory in Brandon-Souris would have represented a crushing defeat for the Conservatives at the hands of Mr. …

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