CFN – Four more bye-elections enter the history books. The two main protagonists, Liberals and Conservatives can both claim victory and their spin machines are already in action. In politics what matters is that you get to send someone from your team to Ottawa, so in that sense the Conservatives can pat themselves on the back as they earned their two expected victories. They had no chance in Bourassa and Toronto Centre was a Liberal versus NDP fight from the start. For the NDP and Thomas Mulcair it will be a day of reflection and reassessment.
However, it takes some of the shine off of your team’s win if your party sees a significant drop in the margin of victory in two of your party’s strongholds. Most observers point to the Senate Scandal as the reason for the drop and certainly the Conservative caucus feels that way.
There will be quite a few Conservative MPs looking at the drop in their party’s share of the vote in both Conservative strongholds in Manitoba and wondering what their own fate will be in the next election. The unease in caucus is very noticeable, as it is amongst staff. Their unhappiness with PMO has been known for some time and goes back far beyond the calling of these four bye-elections, but this is the first time there have been whispers aimed at the Prime Minister and his handling of the Senate issue. He is probably safe for now, but things could turn if more details emerge in the next few weeks.
The Conservative caucus is not a group that panics over every little issue, many are veteran MPs and even the class of 2011 has a couple of years under their belt. If they are worried and starting to point fingers and lay blame, it is because they are hearing a lot of grief from their constituents. Conservative MPs will be looking at last night’s results and calculating their own chances of success or failure in 2015. We may even see more veteran MPs or ministers decide that it’s time to retire rather than stay on to fight what is shaping up to be a brutal election battle. For those that decide to stay on, the good news for them is that there is still time to turn things around before the next election, although time is rapidly slipping away.
It will be a very interesting meeting on Wednesday when the Conservative caucus meets, not just for what is raised in the open, but also for what will be whispered one on one.
Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails. To sponsor this column please email firstname.lastname@example.org!