Byelection for Jack Layton's riding moved back a week

The Prime Minister's Office has revised the date for a byelection to fill the late Jack Layton's seat in Toronto-Danforth, now set for March 19.
The byelection in former NDP leader Jack Layton's riding will be held March 19, a week later than originally announced. The Prime Minister's Office said it made a mistake with its first announcement. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Voters in Toronto-Danforth will be going to the polls a week later than they thought because of an error made by the Prime Minister's Office.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had announced on Sunday that the byelection in former NDP leader Jack Layton's riding would be held March 12.

But a new press release issued on Monday said voters there would go to the polls on March 19 instead.

A spokeswoman for Harper's office said the date was not moved due to scheduling issues, rather that an administrative error was made and the press release had to be re-issued with the new date.

The new date puts the byelection just days before the NDP's convention in Toronto to elect a new leader on March 24. The byelection and leadership contest were prompted by Layton's death last summer from cancer.

Craig Scott, the NDP's candidate in Toronto-Danforth, wasn't bothered by the change. "Fine by me," he said on Twitter, adding that he has been canvassing for a month and he looks forward to having an extra week to meet constituents.

Scott will try to keep the riding in the NDP's hands and will be fighting against Conservative candidate Andrew Keyes and Green Party candidate Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu. The Liberals will choose their candidate at a nomination meeting on Thursday, interim leader Bob Rae said.

"It's a seat that's been held by the NDP for some time. It was held by the Liberals for a while and then before by the NDP for some time. It's a riding I know a little bit about, it was where I was first elected in 1978," Rae told reporters.

The interim Liberal leader said Layton won the riding by a huge majority and that Liberals are being "realistic" about the competition and will fight hard to win the seat.

"We look forward to the race ... we're going to be doing the best we can in a part of the city we all know well and feel very strongly about," said Rae.

The NDP's interim leader, Nycole Turmel, said the date change won't affect the party's ability to handle a byelection and a leadership convention in the same week.

"No matter what is the date, we'll have the resources, we'll make sure that our candidate is elected," she said.