Some will try to find deep significance in a byelection win even when it isn’t there. It would take a fair bit of spin to glean much crystal ball material out of the win by Liberal Yvonne Jones over Conservative Peter Penashue in Labrador, but people still give it a shot.
Possibly the most puzzling is the observation from Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey that, despite the Liberal win, it reflects a loss for new leader Justin Trudeau. His reasoning – DeLorey claims the Liberals dropped 20 points in their lead in the polls since the byelection was called, even though Trudeau helped campaign there for Jones.
That interpretation is a bit of a stretch. Despite any apparent drop, Jones won with 48.2 per cent of the popular vote, compared to 32.5 for Penashue. Taking 48 per cent is a pretty solid win in a three-way race. Trudeau probably doesn’t have to worry about licking his wounds just yet.
More interesting is the direction Penashue’s campaign took. The incumbent MP – he stepped down over spending violations in the 2011 election – was presented as a sure pick for a cabinet post if re-elected.
That tantalizing prospect didn’t sway enough apparently. Who knows what the average voter in this byelection thought of that? But we can only hope people are getting tired of the promise that if you stick with the government side, your elected member will bring home the bacon in the form of investment or development dollars. As voters become increasingly astute about government finances, having restraint preached on one hand, and the promise of goodies on the other presents a stark disconnect.
With any luck the electorate is thinking more about the good of the country than what’s in it for their riding when they cast a vote.
At any rate, matching your choice in a general election with the party likely to form government is good odds in some cases but often a crap shoot. It’s not a bad idea at all to consider the bigger picture at the ballot box.