Media treating Julian Fantino’s election as if the fate of the world were at stake

Media treating Julian Fantino’s election as if the fate of the world were at stake

Michael Ignatieff visits now-defeated Liberal candidate Tony Genco during the Vaughan by-election campaign (Image: Michael Ignatieff)

Apparently, all it takes to be the talk of the nation is for a GTA by-election to go your way. Vaughan, best known to Torontonians as “the approximate location of Canada’s Wonderland,” went to the polls on the same day as two ridings in Winnipeg, but all anyone wants to talk about is what Julian Fantino‘s election means for the future of Parliament, Canada, the Liberals, humankind and the universe. So let’s join in, shall we?

First of all, if the Liberals had a rough night last night, the NDP went on a metaphorical bender, losing the Winnipeg-North seat it had held since 2004. Something about the NDP candidate claiming to have been endorsed by Lloyd Axworthy seems to have either turned people off or made them realize that if the NDP is touting Liberal cred, they might as well go to the source.

The NDP shutout, however, doesn’t seem to be the story of the day. The Globe and Mail and the National Post agree that that honour goes to Michael Ignatieff. According to the two dailies, the results in Vaughan and Winnipeg will spell doom with a capital D for the Liberal leader if the Conservatives push this right. John Ibbitson sees this as the fruition of the Conservative outreach to immigrant communities, putting the whole 905 region in play (for more on that, Paul Wells is essential reading). The National Post’s Kelly McParland says that—for a brief moment, at least—the “stars are aligned” for Stephen Harper, and a combination of factors means that Harper should find a reason to hold an election he keeps insisting nobody wants.

Of course, skeptics have their own data to point to, and Sun Media’s Brian Lilley says the big news of the night is that the Liberals “WON A SEAT WEST OF ONTARIO. Can you feel the freeze imposed by the National Energy Program melting away?” (All-caps in the original. That’s how strongly he feels.)

Even if Lilley is right about the Grits turning their fortunes around out west, it’s still terrible news if the GTA doesn’t stay Liberal red. It is both true and slightly cruel to say that the Liberals could win Manitoba and Saskatchewan handily, and it still wouldn’t be worth it if it meant the GTA was in danger, just in terms of seat counts. Unless the Liberals can somehow break through in Alberta, but to do that they’d need Stephen Harper’s home province to start feeling ignored, angry, and abandoned for Central Canada—a notion that’s not as crazy as it sounds.

• Vaughan by-election loss adds to Ignatieff’s woes [Globe and Mail]
Kelly McParland: The stars are aligned for Stephen Harper [National Post]
• Fantino’s win and the Libs triumph in Winnipeg North [Brian Lilley]
• In Ottawa, who stands up for Alberta? [Edmonton Journal]