Weekly Writ for Jan. 24: Which cabinet ministers are in danger of defeat?
Plus the countdown for the next federal byelections is on; what the latest polls are showing; a trailblazer in PEI.
Welcome to the Weekly Writ, a round-up of the latest federal and provincial polls, election news and political history that lands in your inbox every Wednesday morning.
Earlier this week, Justin Trudeau convened his cabinet ministers in Montreal for a retreat to plan strategy for the coming year. In all likelihood, none of the cabinet ministers will be facing an election in 2024. But when 2025 comes around, some will be in far greater danger than others.
Let’s take a look at which ones are safe, which ones have a fight on their hands and which ones might want to start their retirement planning early.
Below, I’ve ranked all Liberal cabinet ministers from safest to least safe, based on where the polls stand now and how their ridings will look after the new electoral boundaries are in force. I’ve used my current estimates (the ones the If The Election Were Held Today section is based on) and added a margin of error of +/- five points.
We’ll start with the very safest ones.
A lot of them are on the island of Montreal — Pablo Rodriguez, Marc Miller, Mélanie Joly and Justin Trudeau would all be expected to win by margins of at least 14 percentage points, or as many as 30 to 40 in the case of Rodriguez in super-safe Honoré-Mercier.
In addition to Montreal, there are also a few Toronto-based ministers on the list: Gary Anandasangaree, Bill Blair, Ahmed Hussen, Marci Ien and Chrystia Freeland. Several cabinet ministers in the Greater Toronto Area are also among the safer ones, including Mary Ng, Mark Holland and Kamal Khera.
Finally, there are a couple from Atlantic Canada that could withstand the Conservative tidal wave: Dominic LeBlanc in New Brunswick and Seamus O’Regan in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Not all of these ministers are very safe, though. Khera could lose in Brampton if the city swings toward the Conservatives en masse, and I wouldn’t take re-election for granted if I were Ng or Holland. When the GTA decides to back a change in government, the swing can be significant.
Moving on to the next tranche of cabinet ministers are those that have a decent shot of re-election — even in the current context — but are by no means the heavy favourites. In this list, we now largely move out of Toronto and Montreal and into more suburban or rural seats.
Harjit Sajjan would be quite safe in his current riding of Vancouver South, but his new riding of Vancouver Fraserview–South Burnaby — assuming that is where he chooses to run — exchanges a lot of Liberal voters for New Democrats, perhaps opening up a path for the Conservatives. If some of the worst poll numbers of the Liberals in British Columbia are true, Sajjan is no shoo-in.
Also on the bubble in B.C. are Jonathan Wilkinson and Terry Beech, who will have to hold off the Conservatives.
In Quebec, the drop in Liberal support gives the Bloc Québécois an opportunity for pick-ups. Less likely is that François-Philippe Champagne could go down to defeat in Jean Chrétien’s old riding or that Steven Guilbeault could get toppled by the NDP in Laurier–Sainte-Marie, especially as the riding is about five points friendlier to the Liberals on the new boundaries than it was on the old ones. But they still have doors to knock.
More at risk would be Jean-Yves Duclos in Quebec City, Soraya Martinez Ferrada in Hochelaga and Marie-Claude Bibeau in Compton–Stanstead, all under pressure from the Bloc.
Ginette Petitpas Taylor in Moncton–Riverview–Dieppe and Lawrence MacAulay in Cardigan could get swept away in the Conservatives’ Atlantic wave, while Dan Vandal in Manitoba isn’t invulnerable. Lastly, Patty Hajdu in northern Ontario and Filomena Tassi near Hamilton could also feel the heat from the Conservatives.
Among those cabinet ministers who are most vulnerable right now are several in the GTA and in ridings that were won by narrow margins in 2021. Carla Qualtrough in Delta in British Columbia is one of those straddling the line between being on the bubble and being in real trouble, as is Rechie Valdez in Mississauga–Streetsville.
Elsewhere in Ontario, Arif Virani could have difficulty winning his Toronto seat as Liberal support drops and the NDP holds steady, while Ya’ara Saks in York Centre is in tough in a swing riding the Conservatives have won before. It gets tougher as we head down the highway around Lake Ontario, as Karina Gould and Anita Anand in Burlington and Oakville would struggle to hold their seats based on current poll numbers.
Jenna Sudds in Kanata is better off on the new boundaries than she would be in her current Kanata–Carleton seat, but is still facing long odds.
In Quebec, the Bloc is in a good position to pick up Brome–Missisquoi from Pascale St-Onge and Gaspésie–Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine–Listuguj from Diane Lebouthillier, especially as the new configuration of the riding includes a lot of Bloc-friendly polls from the Haute-Gaspésie.
Edmonton Centre will be tougher for Randy Boissonnault to hold thanks to the new boundaries, and the climate in Alberta isn’t exactly helping either. Finally, the much-heralded Sean Fraser and the less-heralded Gudie Hutchings, representing rural ridings in Atlantic Canada, appear to be well under water.
Of course, this is where things stand now, in early 2024. Things will certainly shift around between now and October 2025, though that is no guarantee things will get better for some of these cabinet ministers.
But this list should be worrisome for the Liberals — in part because of what it signals for the post-election world. Even if the Liberals somehow eke out another victory, some of those on the bottom of the list will likely go down to defeat. If the Liberals are pushed out of power, then most of the bottom two groups of ministers are likely among the departed.
The problem is that a lot of those names are among the fresher faces in cabinet. Many of the names at the safer end of the list are among those who have been there the longest. Win or lose, the Liberals might find themselves left with only the old-guard and not much representing the next generation of Liberals. That’s not a recipe for a quick recovery.
Now, to what is in this week’s instalment of the Weekly Writ:
News on a seat vacancy in Toronto and what that means for the next round of federal byelections, plus new research on Canada’s evolving political spectrum. There is also news of a new Conservative candidate and the passing of an MHA.
Polls on federal voting intentions across the country, along with a special focus on Mississauga, plus where things stand in Alberta.
Just shy of 200 seats for the Conservatives if the election were held today.
A potential three-way race in northern B.C. in this week’s riding profile.
Catherine Callbeck’s coronation in the #EveryElectionProject.