This was my sleeper scenario, primarily because it destroyed all the pre-election narratives that were establishing themselves. A Liberal win in Vaughan seemed an uphill battle, as did one in an NDP stronghold. From what I was able to gleam, we had the momentum in Winnipeg North in recent days, there was a buzz in the air, people cautious but upbeat. Ignatieff sent in the troops, organizers and outside help augmented a strong ground game. We had a well know candidate, but as the NDP pointed out yesterday, the overlap only amounted to 1/4 of the riding, something which makes the victory that much more impressive. Name recognition, with a work until the last minute attitude (the amount of MP’s on hand last night in Winnipeg a testament) congealed into a surprising victory, which turned the punditry on its head and rendered all pre-conceptions obsolete. The kind of result which makes politics what is, and thank goodness.
The Liberals lost Vaughan, there is one more Conservative MP today than there was yesterday, but the pure facts aside, it feels like a moral victory of sorts. All the doom and gloom prognostications, of which I admit I began to believe, it seemed the stage was set for much hand wringing. As it turns out, Fantino squeaked out a slight victory, the gap less than 1000 voters, something no one predicted. A bit of a slap in the face to the peekaboo campaign style, clearly some were turned off by the entitlement flavour of the Fantino campaign. On the name recognition front, Fantino is as high profile as they come, even Don Cherry comes calling for added emphasis. I think this result was closer than expected because the Liberals didn’t give up, GOTV was impressive, people worked their asses off, the leadership included. Again, had Ignatieff listened to some of the Liberal "insiders" and other snake oil salesman, we would have downplayed, kept people away and we probably would have lost by a much bigger margin. There is a lesson here for everyone- dubious sources are just that and definitive statements fail to understand historical precedents. By-elections, by their nature are unpredictable and bring surprises. You have to applaud the Liberals for effort, it made a difference in the end.
The NDP are the big losers last night, no question. For a fourth place party, anytime they lose a seat, it’s a setback. The Conservatives can claim victory, simple math their ally. For the Liberals, we lost one, gained one, but when you factor in the predictions, the lead up, the general consensus, the EXPECTATIONS game, feels like a winner from here. Grit.
Click HERE to read more from Steve Val