07/12/2013 11:21 EDT

Ontario Byelections: Poll Suggests Doug Holyday May Be Headed To Queen's Park


If Doug Holyday is looking for a way out of the turmoil at Toronto’s city hall — or just less stressful work — he may have found it as Tim Hudak's candidate for the Ontario Tories in the upcoming Etobicoke-Lakeshore byelection.

The riding is one of five holding votes on August 1 and one of two taking place in Toronto, with Scarborough-Guildwood being the other. Byelections in Ottawa, London, and Windsor round out the list.

Though Etobicoke-Lakeshore gave former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister Laurel Broten 51 per cent of the vote in 2011's provincial election, Holyday has the potential to turn the byelection on its head. Peter Milczyn, a fellow city councillor, will be carrying the governing party's banner in an election that had been his to lose before Holyday announced his candidacy.

A new survey by Forum Research suggests Holyday has had a dramatic effect already.

The firm had conducted a poll prior to Holyday throwing his hat in the ring, and gave Milczyn 50 per cent support to only 25 per cent for the Progressive Conservatives. Their latest poll, conducted earlier this week, dropped Milczyn and the Liberals to 45 per cent, compared to 39 per cent for Holyday. The NDP trailed with only 11 per cent. The party took 15 per cent of the vote in 2011, and is not considered to have much of a shot.

The sample size in the Forum poll is small, however, with only 334 surveyed (and that includes undecideds). It makes Milczyn's lead statistically insignificant, along with his drop of five points since Forum's last missive. But the 14-point boost Holyday gave Tories in the riding is outside the margin of error. He may have booked his ticket out of city hall.

The ballot in Scarborough-Guildwood may not have a name with the notoriety of a Holyday on it, but does have one that more than a few might recall: Adam Giambrone. The former Toronto city councillor and mayoral candidate will be the NDP's standard bearer and he adds a little celebrity to the contest. But he has not boosted the NDP's fortunes yet. A poll by Forum gives him only 18 per cent of the vote, little different from what New Democrats managed in 2011.

Mitzie Hunter of the Liberals was awarded 39 per cent support in the poll — a drop of 10 points from the last election — while Ken Kirupa of the Tories was up five points from 2011 to 34 per cent. Here again, the sample size is small and the margin insignificant. But without a wildcard like Holyday to take into account the benefit of the doubt lies with Hunter and the Liberals, who are hoping to retain Margarett Best's vacated seat.

The byelections in the rest of the province should be hotly contested as well. Windsor-Tecumseh looks like an NDP pick-up, while Ottawa South (Dalton McGuinty's riding) could be a close one between Liberals and PCs. London West is shaping up to be a three-way race. It should make for an interesting night of ballot counting.

Éric Grenier taps The Pulse of federal and regional politics for Huffington Post Canada readers every week. Grenier is the author of ThreeHundredEight.com, covering Canadian politics, polls and electoral projections.

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