Voters go to the ballot box in two by-elections today, including one where polls suggest an upset may be in the making.
The Liberals are within striking distance of winning Whitby-Oshawa, the Ontario riding formerly held by former Conservative MP and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, polls have shown. The second riding, Alberta's Yellowhead, is expected to remain Conservative in voting Monday.
Two polls released in the past week by Forum Research showed the Liberals and Conservatives essentially tied in Whitby-Oshawa, within the polls' margins of error, and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has scheduled an appearance in the riding on Monday after voting ends. The Liberals entered the weekend optimistic they had a shot at taking the riding, though sources had cautioned they still expect the Conservatives are the likely winner.
The race pits former Whitby mayor Pat Perkins, running for the Conservatives, against Liberal Celina Caesar-Chavannes, a political newcomer. NDP Candidate Trish McAuliffe, who finished second in 2011, is also among the six-candidate field.
Ms. Perkins has cited her political experience in her pitch to voters, a veiled contrast against her Liberal opponent, but the Conservatives' campaign has not been without its stumbles.
Ms. Perkins required a special waiver to run for the party, because she only bought her current membership in July. She also won a nomination race where the other candidate complained of party interference. In a candidates' debate last week, she expressed doubt about the need to reduce carbon emissions, by saying she believes scientists are divided on climate change and that politicians can't act until the science community is able to provide a consensus. She also dismissed the question – about Canada's emissions-reduction targets, which Environment Canada's own figures show the country is on pace to widely miss – by suggesting the government could find experts who would say Canada will meet the target.
Ms. Caesar-Chavannes is a health-care research consultant who won the Liberal nomination uncontested. She has been joined by Mr. Trudeau several times in the riding – a sign of the party's push for gains there – and hosted Ontario's Premier and Liberal leader, Kathleen Wynne, on Friday.
One poll by Forum last week gave Ms. Perkins a slight edge, within the margin of error, over Ms. Caesar-Chavannes. Another released Sunday gave Ms. Caesar-Chavannes a slight edge over Ms. Perkins, again within the margin of error. Forum said the race was tied heading into voting day. Mr. Flaherty won the riding with 58 per cent of the vote in 2011.
Polls in each riding close at 9:30 p.m. (ET). The Liberals have seen their by-election fortunes surge since Mr. Trudeau became leader – the party snagged a Toronto riding, Trinity-Spadina, from the NDP and finished a close second in two other ridings, Manitoba's Brandon-Souris and Alberta's Fort McMurray-Athabasca, long held by the Conservatives.
Yellowhead was vacated when former MP Rob Merrifield quit to become Alberta's envoy to Washington. The Whitby-Oshawa riding was vacated by Mr. Flaherty's sudden passing earlier this year. The votes Monday will bring the total number of by-elections since the last general election to 15.