Yesterday we had three main political stories and below is my thought on each. First Senate rammed through the appointment of Amy Barrett Coney. Next will be on by-elections in Toronto Centre and York Centre, while finally on Saskatchewan election.
To my disappointment but not surprise, Amy Barrett Coney was confirmed and conservatives now firmly control Supreme Court. Susan Collins of Maine was the lone Republican to vote against this. While perfectly legal, it is clear GOP is trying to slant court in their favour despite fact they have only won the popular vote once in last 30 years. I am no fan of packing the court as it can be abused, but clearly if GOP is willing to play dirty, Democrats have no choice. I think options such as adding more seats to supreme court, term limits, or mandatory retirements are all issues that need to be considered if Democrats win all three houses. Since there are 13 lower court circuits while only nine at time current number of 9 set, I believe adding four more and adopting policy of each judge must geographically come from each one of the lower circuit courts as one solution that yes involves packing but has some logic. A better option is bring in term limits or mandatory retirement at say age 70 or 75.
Yesterday, Liberals held onto both by-elections, which was no surprise, but by much smaller margins than they did in 2019. I was not surprised at Toronto Centre since Greens had new leader running there so expected them to have a strong second place showing. But York Centre was a bit closer than I thought it would be. With by-elections generally having low turnouts, one shouldn’t read too much into these, but I have noticed in past decade Ontario by-election results both provincially and federally usually are somewhat correlated with polls and give minor hints. For each of the party here are my thoughts:
Liberals: Won both, but probably closer than they would have liked. This should at least give them pause about angling hard for an early election. While provincial results to date suggest pandemic has helped governing parties, by-elections suggest less so at federal level.
Conservatives: York Centre was a good start, but Tories still need to do better. While traditionally a very safe Liberal seat; in recent elections results have tended to mirror national and provincial numbers so Tories getting over 40% and strong second place showing shows they are competitive in GTA suburbs, but need to still do a bit better. Otherwise moving in right direction, but need to continue to improve.
NDP: Largely irrelevant, but Toronto Centre only one they are sometimes competitive in and with Green leader running there, probably killed any chance of that.
Green Party: Fell a bit short in Toronto Centre, but still a good showing. Nonetheless, leader should try and find a somewhat more friendly one come next general election. I would suggest Guelph or Kitchener Centre.
People’s Party: Mad Max almost denied the Tories a win in York Centre, but not quite as combined Conservative + PPC vote still slightly short of Liberal vote. Either way, shows his party is a joke and irrelevant.
For Saskatchewan election, preliminary results show another landslide for Saskatchewan Party. While polls may have correctly predicted the winner; unless mail in ballots are something like 80%+ for NDP, looks like a major miss. Most put NDP in mid to upper 30s while looks like they won’t even crack 30% mark while Saskatchewan party polled in mid 50s, but looks like they will get over 60%. If you include Progressive Conservatives and Buffalo Party, over 2/3 of Saskatchewan residents voted for parties on right. Even in urban ridings where NDP was hoping to make gains; looked like they were static. BC Liberals and New Brunswick Liberals may have had a setback, but one bad election doesn’t represent a trend. However, NDP has now faced three drubbings in a row so party needs to do a major overhaul and needs to ask can they ever comeback or will they be a perpetual opposition party? I think as I have suggested elsewhere; Saskatchewan will replace Alberta as Canada’s most conservative province and this just seems to re-affirm this. While I would have voted for the Saskatchewan Party myself, I really wish NDP had gotten closer to 20 seats. I don’t think one party always dominating is healthy since I find when parties feel they are invincible, they tend to get careless. Other story was Buffalo Party came in second in a number of rural ridings. There is no question in rural Prairies there is a lot of anger so will be interesting whether Saskatchewan Party moves right to placate this thus creating an opening in urban ridings for NDP or stays moderate. In fact in much of rural Saskatchewan, combined right got over 80% and in some ridings over 90% so seems like rural Alberta; best way to get competition there is have two right wing parties as left dead there.