Roundup: A surprise by-election win

In the two federal by-elections that took place last night, it was no surprise that the Conservatives won handily in Sturgeon River–Parkland riding that Rona Ambrose used to hold. Mind you, the newly elected MP there, Dane Lloyd, may prove to be uncomfortable given his past history of saying some fairly controversial things, but that’s now Andrew Scheer’s problem to manage. The real surprise, however, was that the Liberals won the Quebec riding of Lac Saint-Jean, the former riding of Denis Lebel. Why is it so surprising? Because for a Conservative riding where the NDP were a close second in the 2015 election, this time around it was a Liberal victory, with the Conservatives barely managing second place, the Bloc in a close third, and the NDP a distant fourth. And this was the Liberals’ weakest Quebec showing in 2015 and a riding that they haven’t held since 1980.

So can we draw any conclusion from these results? Probably not yet – it’ll probably take a few days to suss out the data and get a sense of what happened on the ground, but it does bear mentioning that the of the three opposition parties, all of them had new leaders, and each of them spent a fair bit of time in the riding over the past couple of weeks, hoping to drum up support. That the Conservatives lost the riding may simply be indicative that the riding was more loyal to Lebel himself than the party he ran for (remember that he was a former mayor from the region), but it can’t be a ringing endorsement of Scheer either. And while the pollsters are all out in force talking about the Liberals’ fall from grace in their polling numbers lately, the fact that the Liberals still managed to win a seat that the Conservatives held, even amidst weeks of headlines about tax changes and Bill Morneau’s assets, in a region where they didn’t have any historic strength, probably still says something about the party’s appeal nationally. Maybe it’s about the collapse of the NDP vote in Quebec, which could possibly be a harbinger of things to come under Jagmeet Singh? Maybe it’s the appeal of sock diplomacy and selfies? Suffice to say, it’s going to be an interesting few days for all of the parties as they figure out what happened, and prepare for the next round of by-elections.

Good reads:

  • In today’s fiscal update, the expectation is that the lower deficit numbers will prompt the government to start indexing the Canada Child Benefit.
  • New US Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft presented her credentials to Governor General Julie Payette, and is now on the job.
  • In an interview with Rosemary Barton, Craft says she believes “both sides of climate science,” which…is an interesting way to start off.
  • Newly appointed special envoy to Myanmar, Bob Rae, hopes to travel to the region as early as next week.
  • The chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee is heading to Washington with a blunt message for Congress about supporting NAFTA.
  • Oh look – yet another Morneau Shepell conspiracy theory, this time with a Bombardier angle! Because no stretch is too far these days.
  • The Public Sector Integrity Commissioner is disappointed that the government opted not to strengthen legislated whistleblower protections.
  • Despite promising more peacekeepers, the current number deployed is falling below the lowest in recent memory.
  • Analysis shows that the conviction rate for sexual assault in military courts-martial is far lower than in civilian courts.
  • The government won’t say if they’re aware of the security flaw in WiFi-enabled devices, and what steps they’re taking to close it.
  • The UK is turning over ownership of the Franklin expedition shipwrecks to Canada (and presumably there will be joint ownership with the Inuit).
  • 25 years ago this week, the Federal Court ordered the Canadian Forces to stop discriminating against LGBT members.
  • Jagmeet Singh has given Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton and Peter Julian their old caucus jobs back.
  • Carissima Mathen lays out the unconstitutional nature of Quebec’s Bill 62 (and is on Power Play here).
  • Martin Patriquin lays out the political calculus of Bill 62, while Paul Wells shreds the bill and the supposed logical underpinnings behind it.
  • Colby Cosh outlines the curious case of deciding how to design marijuana retailing in Alberta.
  • Stephen Gordon offers a primer on the median income data and why it’s so divergent across provinces.

Odds and ends:

For the Law Times, I wrote about how the Indian Act affects the ability for status First Nations individuals to write their own wills.

A survey from ESDC finds that Millennials don’t like to be referred to as such.

Here is a preview of former Commons Law Clerk Rob Walsh’s new book on Parliament.