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Three Members of Parliament who resigned, from left: Denise Savoie, Bev Oda and Lee Richardson. (The Canadian Press and Reuters)

Three Members of Parliament who resigned, from left: Denise Savoie, Bev Oda and Lee Richardson.

(The Canadian Press and Reuters)

Explainer

Everything you need to know about the three federal by-elections in one post Add to ...

Last weekend, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called by-elections in three vacant ridings across Canada.

That came a day after the Conservatives picked their last by-election candidate, Dale Gann in Victoria, giving their party the leg-up before the vote on Nov. 26. Two NDP riding associations quickly bumped up their nomination meetings to give their candidates more time to campaign.

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Here’s everything you need to know about the races.

Victoria (British Columbia)

Who stepped down: NDP MP Denise Savoie stepped down in August for undisclosed health reasons. First elected in 2006, Ms. Savoie had been serving as Deputy Speaker of the House for the last year.

What happened in 2011: Ms. Savoie won with a little over 50 per cent of the vote last year, in a riding that has bounced between the Liberals and NDP in the last 25 years.

Who’s running in the by-election: Attention academia fans: all major candidates have a connection to the University of Victoria. NDP nominee Murray Rankin is a lawyer and U Vic adjunct professor. Dale Gann, president of a technology enterprise owned by the university, is running for the Conservatives. Liberal candidate Paul Summerville is an economist and adjunct professor at U Vic (and ran for the NDP in Toronto in 2006). The Green Party is also making a big play for this riding, which is next door to the constituency of party leader Elizabeth May. Their candidate is U Vic law professor Donald Galloway.

Calgary Centre (Alberta)

Who stepped down: Conservative MP Lee Richardson, who quit in May to join the Alberta Premier’s office as a senior aide. Mr. Richardson had been a backbencher since 2004, with an earlier stint as an MP from 1988 to 1993.

What happened in 2011: Mr. Richardson cruised to victory with 57.7 per cent of the vote, slightly ahead of his past performances. The riding is historically Conservative.

Who’s running in the by-election: Joan Crockatt, a former newspaper editor and consultant, won the Conservative nomination, making her the odds-on favourite to head to Ottawa. (She’s also likely the only woman from a major party running in any of the by-elections.) Given the dominance of the Conservative support, local pollster Brian Singh has mounted a campaign to unite all “progressive” voters across parties behind a single candidate. The NDP, meanwhile, nominated anti-poverty advocate Dan Meades. The Liberals chose Harvey Locke, a former president of the provincial party.

Durham (Ontario)

Who stepped down: International co-operation minister Bev Oda, who had represented the riding since 2004, resigned in July after coming under fire for hefty expenses while on a government trip.

What happened in 2011: Ms. Oda won with more than half of the vote. Before her first election, this riding in the eastern end of the Greater Toronto Area was held for 11 years by a Liberal.

Who’s running in the by-election: Running to replace Ms. Oda for the Tories is Erin O’Toole, a lawyer and former Canadian Forces officer. The Liberals renominated Grant Humes, a former vice-president at the Toronto Board of Trade, who ran for them in last year’s election. Former Brock mayor and Ontario MPP Larry O’Connor is carrying the NDP banner.

The Supreme Court decision

Update: The Supreme Court ruled to uphold the election result, so there won't be a by-election.

There’s one more possible by-election weighing on the minds of politicos this week.

The Supreme Court of Canada rules Thursday on whether a by-election should go ahead in the Ontario riding of Etobicoke Centre. Conservative MP Ted Opitz had his election win challenged last year by former Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who lost by 26 votes.

The Ontario Superior Court overturned the results of the election, citing possible errors by Elections Canada workers that could have influenced the razor-thin result.

Canada’s top court heard arguments in the case in July. Some observers thought Mr. Harper would wait until after a ruling to set the date for by-elections, so they could all be held together. But now, if an Etobicoke Centre by-election is called, the vote will likely happen next year.

 

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