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Liberals and Tories head down to wire in Vaughan Add to ...

In Monday's three federal by-elections, the Tories appear to have one sewed up in Manitoba while the NDP are looking good for the other in the province, but the third ballot in Ontario is too close to call. And the Liberals likely have the most to lose.

VAUGHAN - The Race. This one is just too close to call. Maurizio Bevilacqua has been the Liberal MP here since the riding was formed in 2004 and held precursor ridings since 1988. In 2008, he took nearly 50 per cent of the vote. But Mr. Bevilacqua departed for municipal politics and Liberal candidate Tony Genco is in a bitter and hard-fought race with Julian Fantino, the former commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police.

Mr. Genco is the former president and CEO of Parc Downsview Park Inc. and was responsible for developing the former military base in Toronto into a National Urban Park. The Liberals, perhaps to manage expectations, have made it known that they believe Mr. Fantino to be well ahead. The Conservatives say their candidate is leading, but not by much.

The Stakes. If the Liberals lose Vaughan, is will be interpreted as a sign of leader Michael Ignatieff's inability to capture the imaginations of voters, even in parts of the country where his party is traditionally strong. On the other hand, ridings all around Vaughan have fallen to the Conservatives and there is no shortage of Conservative sentiment in the wealthy 905-belt north of Toronto.

DAUPHIN-SWAN RIVER-MARQUETTE - The Race. Prognosticators say there isn't one. Although the Conservatives, the Liberals, and the New Democrats have all held this seat within recent memory, it has belonged to Conservative Inky Mark since 1997. Mr. Mark stepped down to run for the mayor of Dauphin and the riding which he won in 2008 with more than 60 per cent of the vote is not expected to slip out of Conservative hands.

In fact, polls and pundits suggest the Conservatives could even increase their lead in this western Manitoba seat. Their candidate, Robert Sopuck, is a former director of the Smart Green Project for the right-wing Frontier Centre for Public Policy and was appointed to the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. Christopher Scott Sarna, the Liberal, is a long-time party member. Denise Harder, the NDP candidate, was recently appointed chair of the regional health authority for central Manitoba.

The Stakes. The only real question in this race is the Conservative plurality. Will the departure of the popular Mr. Mark cause the party to take a dip in the popular vote - or will it cement an even larger hold on this seat that it has held for so long? A Conservative defeat would be a shocker.

WINNIPEG NORTH - The Race. The Liberals have been working hard here but the New Democrats have the edge in Winnipeg North and are expected to hold on to this seat that has been held by Judy Wasylycia-Leis, a popular NDP MP, since 1997. Ms. Wasylycia-Leis left federal politics to enter the race for Winnipeg mayor and her team went to bat for her municipally. So there was some hope on the part of the Liberals that the New Democrats would be experiencing campaign fatigue. But projections suggest that is not the case and the NDP has a large lead.

Kevin Chief, the NDP candidate, is the coordinator of Innovative Learning Centre at the University of Winnipeg and the executive director of the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre. Julie Javier, the Conservative candidate is a critical care monitoring specialist. Kevin Lamoureux, the Liberal candidate, was a Liberal MLA in Manitoba for over 18 years.

The Stakes. The Liberals would love to win another seat west of Ontario, but the chances of that happening in Winnipeg North seem pretty slim. Mr. Ignatieff has made a point of visiting this riding and former MLAs generally make star candidates. This seat is the New Democrats' to lose.

Correction: Lloyd Axworthy did not endorse Kevin Chief, the NDP candidate in the Winnipeg North by-election, as an earlier version of this article reported.

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