Four by-elections being held today could give Stephane Dion a badly needed boost. In fact, if he retains all four of the ridings up for grabs he might actually be able to get his critics off his back for at least a few months. Alternately, if he loses one or more this could really be the end for him.
Of the four ridings up for grabs (Vancouver Quadra, Toronto Centre, Willowdale and Saskatchewan's sprawling rural riding of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River), only one, Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River appears to be a tough battleground for Dion. He is however aided by the comments that the local Conservative candidate, RCMP officer Rob Clarke, that he didn't believe that he would win. It will be difficult for some people to vote for a guy who just said he doesn't think he's really in the race.
This could be a chance for the NDP's candidate, Brian Morin to take the only NDP seat in the province that birthed universal healthcare and the likes of Tommy Douglas.
Though it appears that Liberal Joan Beatty ( a former provincial NDP cabinet Minister ) will win the seat, pollsters have been admitting that it is extremely difficult to figure out what will happen in this riding of over 350,000 square kilometres.
The other ridings are Liberal strongholds in the cities of Toronto and Vancouver and are not likely to switch, but the same was said about Outremont before it fell to Thomas Mulcair of the NDP.
If Dion is able to win all four of these ridings, and it looks like he has a good chance of doing just that, he'll be able to take some of the pressure off. At least for the short term. If he loses the Saskatchewan riding, or even another, I wouldn't expect him to last out the year as Liberal party boss.
( I can't figure out how to make a caption under photos, so I thought I'd just point out that the Photo here is of Brian Morin, NDP candidate).