As the Thanksgiving weekend is upon us, it appears the table has been set for the Brandon-Souris candidates, with one poised to move their show to the nation’s capital following a yet-to-be announced byelection date.
The freshly minted candidates are an eclectic group of individuals, with each representing pretty close to their party lines and ideals as set forth by leadership in Ottawa.
This campaign has been anything but dull and continues to attract national media attention, leadership visits and most of all cannon fodder for columnists of all stripes and sizes.
Plenty of ink has been shed on the process and at least one candidate’s reps have already been working the phones gauging support, and even more so from a federal standpoint, checking the temperature of the voter in choosing when to announce the byelection.
Many within this community have received inquiries from a call centre on behalf of Larry Maguire investigating whether in a "hypothetical byelection," the resident would support Maguire and Stephen Harper when the latter finally decides to set the byelection date.
No doubt the Conservative brain trust is waiting for the ideal time to draw the sword on this byelection, but they seemed to have missed a couple of key opportunities to catch other parties unprepared for the announcement.
Waiting for the three other parties to complete a proper nomination process while theirs was mired in myriad of troubles was the first mistake. Another was allowing time for the other parties to bring leaders through town in both Elizabeth May of the Greens and Liberal Justin Trudeau, who has visited twice recently.
This alone should almost certainly make it prudent for the prime minister to pay a visit to the riding in support of his candidate.
As for Thomas Mulcair, he and the NDP would need to first recognize there is life beyond the confines of Quebec, where they garner so much of their support.
Maguire’s candidacy and the blow-out over the Conservative nomination process has been nothing short of a three-ring circus, which is truly unfortunate for the respected Arthur-Virden MLA.
He and the Conservative party need a reversal of fortunes if they hope to make this vote a runaway like previous Brandon-Souris elections. But the best many can hope for now is that party members who have become disenfranchised with the nomination process stay home come byelection day as opposed to casting their ballot in protest.
<t-3.5>The second possibility is if failed Liberal candidate and riled-up former Conservative Rick Pauls decides to run an independent, an idea he previously flirted with. This alone may be enough to unseat Maguire again as it did when Liberal Glen McKinnon
stole the seat against two conservative-minded candidates in 1993.
The Liberals could once again benefit from a split right-of-centre vote.
Pauls running as an independent would create an interesting possibility and a strong feeling of déjà vu for Maguire, while possibly benefiting the Grits, who followed the nomination process to a T.
In attending the local Liberal nomination meeting, you could feel a rejuvenation of the party, with the balance of the membership voting for candidates being new members.
That bodes well for a party that finished a distant fourth in the last federal election in Brandon-Souris with a perennial "parachute" candidate in the colourful but severely disconnected Wes Penner.
That alone made even the most ardent supporters of the Liberals question their party’s decision to not seek someone who is local and waves the banner proudly as Rolf Dinsdale has shown thus far.
Elsewhere, the Dippers have the candidate they wanted in Cory Szczepanski, who has taken to the hustings for the NDP before, but seems poised to be the fall guy for the party in Brandon-Souris this time around. Many believe the party will likely be relegated back to third or lower this time around as Canadian politics continues to correct itself following the NDP surge in the last election.
A couple of things remain to be seen in this byelection. Will either the prime minister or the leader of the Opposition deem Brandon-Souris worthy of a visit to support their respective candidate? Secondly, will the rejuvenated Liberals under Trudeau and Dinsdale, as well as a split of votes should Pauls keep up his momentum and run as an independent, be enough to make Maguire the bridesmaid for a second time in a race many once thought was for the dogs?
» Shaun Cameron is a lifelong Brandon resident. He has dabbled in politics and is now chair of Renaissance Brandon, the city’s downtown development corporation. His column appears regularly.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 10, 2013