How to lose a riding in Toronto: Nominate a candidate whose writings include: Insulting Ukrainians, advocating Canadian participation in Iraq, and running him in a riding with a heavy immigrant community.
Now, looking at the last election results for Etobicoke-Lakeshore, we see that the Liberals shouldn't have too much to worry about:
Liberals: 24 909 (50.24%)
Conservatives: 15 159 (30.57%)
NDP: 7 179 (14.48%)
Green: 2 201 (4.43%)
But the 2000 elections was a closer affair - with the combined Alliance/PC vote (remember the good ole days?) taking 40% of the pie. (I'd post the link to the Elections Canada reports, but I don't want to inflict our government's horrible web design on you. You can look it up yourself at www.elections.ca, should you desire some punishment.) Meanwhile, in 1997 the Reform/PC vote was within 5% of the Liberal vote.
There's an obvious flaw in my logic here - assuming that the Tories and Reformers will vote together again - something that hasn't proven true in Ontario generally, or Toronto specifically.
But the Conservatives are still led by Stephen Harper, so the Liberals probably don't have much to worry about, right? I'm not so sure. Three reasons why the Liberals might lose this seat:
1) They've turned Ignatieff in to a lightning rod. You can bet that both left-wing and right-wing groups all across the country are doing what the Liberals apparently didn't - going through his previous writings, speeches, everything he's every written (quick, someone! Find his graduate thesis!) to find any halfway controversial thing he's ever said or done. All the publicity for Ignatieff only works if he can win it in a walk. But before this election is over, there's going to be a scene where Ignatieff is face to face with screaming Ukrainians. How he handles that will go a long way to electing him or not.
2) The election generally is shaping up to be about punishing the Liberals generally for being too long in power. The arrogance the Liberals have shown by parachuting Ignatieff in to a riding where there's some obvious hostility to him could hurt them badly.
3) Jean Augustine was an incumbent who'd won every election since 1993. Ignatieff hasn't even lived in this country for a year (has it even been six months?) and as good as the Liberal party machine is, I wouldn't bet on any kind of local support.
If we see a major defection from the Liberals - with disgruntled anti-war voters going NDP, and disgruntled conservatives going for Harper - this could be a major victory for the Conservatives: That elusive Holy Grail, the Conservative Elected From Toronto.
Plus, seeing Michael "Canada Should Bend Over For the US" Ignatieff get humiliated by good Canadians would be fun too.