Just how cynical has the electorate become? We'll get a clue September 22 when Don Valley West voters go to the polls in the last of four federal byelections.
Unlike the three other runoffs taking place next month (two in Quebec and one in Guelph), the battle in the Valley is the real litmus test for the Tories. Toney Don Valley West is as black and white as it gets in politics. The mostly white, Protestant voters in this affluent, upper class enclave make up 60 per cent of the voters and have done pretty well under Harp.
Tax cuts have put more money in their pockets. Now that the econony's tanking, will the fine folk living in Tudor-style luxury vote with their wallets to hold on to the precious dough Harp's stuffed in their piggy banks? Probably not - at least on the face of it.
The riding resoundingly returned Kathleen Wynne, who also happens to be openly gay, against Tory leader John Tory in last year's provincial runoff. But Tory advisers seem to think they have a shot. The party's been pushing the hot button - namely, crime and more crime - like wild. It worked during Mike Harris's reign of terror, when the riding sent David Turnbull to Queen's Park on two occasions.
Not to dig too far back into the political archives, but former Brian Mulroney cabinet minister John Bosley ruled the roost here for more than a decade before Godfrey swept in on the Chretien tide in 93. The Libs won't be helped here by the fact that the party wasn't able to recruit a star to run.
United Church minister Rob Oliphant has some impressive credentials as an advocate for housing and seniors. He's also openly gay. He has a large congregation in the riding, but will he be hurt by the fact he actually lives in Cabbagetown?
For the Libs, it'll be doubly hard to get out its strong Muslim support (about 15 per cent of voters in the riding) this time out, too. Ramadan comes smack dab in the middle of this election. Fear for the future has a way of bringing out the worst in voters.
If the Tories can almost steal Vancouver Quadra, a stronghold the Grits barely held onto by 151 votes in a byelection a few short months ago, who says they can't win Don Valley West? Carmichael already has a few more signs up than Oliphant. Liberals are keeping their fingers crossed.