Voters in two ridings in Ontario will go to the polls on Sept. 6.
Premier Dalton McGuinty announced the dates for the two by-elections on Wednesday. Greg Sorbara, a long-time Liberal MPP for the riding of Vaughan and confidant of Mr. McGuinty, announced last week that he was resigning.
The province was already facing one potentially game-changing by-election. Veteran Progressive Conservative Elizabeth Witmer resigned as MPP for the riding of Kitchener-Waterloo in April, after Mr. McGuinty appointed her chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
The Liberals were re-elected last October with just one seat shy of a majority. A win in Kitchener-Waterloo could hand them a de facto majority. The Speaker, who can only vote if there is a tie, traditionally sides with the government.
Mr. Sorbara, a key architect of the Liberals' back-to-back victories in the past three provincial elections, plans to stay on as the party's campaign chair. Given that the opposition can defeat the government at any time, a lot more effort is needed to get ready for a possible early election, he said at a news conference last week at the legislature, where he was flanked by his wife, Kate, and Mr. McGuinty.
"I simply cannot let my responsibilities to my constituents become a part-time pursuit," Mr. Sorbara said.
Mr. McGuinty signalled on Wednesday that the Liberals plan to campaign in the two by-election races much the way they did during last October's provincial election: on their track record for making improvements to health care and education.
The races will be about "who is prepared to stand up for those services Ontarians most rely on," Mr. McGuinty told reporters at a public school in the riding of Vaughan, north of Toronto.