OTTAWA—The federal Liberals maintain a lead in three of four ridings up for grabs in Monday’s byelections, according to a new poll from Forum Research.
Liberal candidates lead their opposition by more than 10 points in Toronto Centre, the Montreal riding of Bourassa, and the Manitoba riding of Brandon-Souris, according to the poll.
In Toronto Centre, former journalist and Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland leads the NDP’s Linda McQuaig by a comfortable 13 points, with 48 per cent of respondents indicating their support to McQuaig’s 35 per cent. Conservative candidate Geoff Pollock languishes in third, with 13 per cent. Those numbers are little changed from the previous week, according to Forum.
"In Toronto Centre, people have said the NDP are coming on strong and they’ve said that anecdotally, (but) we have not picked up that shift yet," said Lorne Bozinoff, the president of Forum Research.
"But that’s the play for the NDP in Toronto Centre, is to get out the vote. Identify their supporters, get them to the polls . . . if the NDP can get their supporters out there, they have a chance at this riding."
The New Democrats have narrowed the gap in Bourassa, but still face an uphill battle. Stéphane Moraille, the former Bran Van 3000 musician turned NDP candidate, has jumped 10 points over the week to 31 per cent. The Liberal candidate, former provincial politician Emmanuel Dubourg, still enjoys 43-per-cent support — but had more than half of the vote share (51 per cent) a week earlier.
Both are considered safe Liberal seats, formerly represented by Bob Rae and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre respectively. But the Liberals are also leading in Brandon-Souris, a solidly Conservative seat recently vacated by Merv Tweed. A full 50 per cent of respondents indicated support for Rolf Dinsdale, the son of Brandon’s former Progressive Conservative MP Walter Dinsdale, compared to 36 per cent for the Conservative’s Larry McGuire.
The riding has received special attention from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who in a rare move sent an open letter to voters last week admonishing Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau as being soft on crime and a bad example to children due to his stance on marijuana legalization. Trudeau shot back with his own letter in the Brandon Sun defending his position and calling Harper’s attacks “malicious.”
The Conservatives are still comfortably ahead in Provencher, the Manitoba riding of former Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, with candidate Ted Falk (48 per cent) leading the Liberal’s Terry Hayward (37 per cent).
"I think we’re getting some indications about where the country is going, reactions to the Senate scandal, reactions to the Trudeau leadership and the Mulcair leadership, and the interplay between the Liberals and NDP," Bozinoff said.