Canadian government is formed from the riding level up, but most media coverage focuses on big-picture dynamics between major party leaders and their platforms. It’s important to take a look at what’s happening at the local level and who we’re actually voting for.
Back by popular demand, we conducted a review of all 338 ridings (minus the original 11 we pulled together a few weeks ago) and compiled another bundle of interesting ridings to watch. Our list spans across Canada—some are classic swing ridings, others feature prominent local candidates and a third group are legacy ridings where one party—or even family—has been elected for a significant length of time.
Ridings won by a small margin in the last election or has traditionally gone the way of the governing party.
Ridings that feature candidates that stand out due to a particular background or long political history.
Ridings that have a history of being held by a particular party. A victory or loss of this seat will be of greater significance than just the seat itself.
Check out our second edition below:
This riding represents one of 30 new seats up for grabs in the 2015 election, with segments from the historically right-leaning North Vancouver and Burnaby–Douglas—held by the NDP since its inception in 1997. The new high-profile riding features an anticipated three-way race between the Conservatives’ Mike Little, a nine-year Vancouver City Council veteran; the NDP’s Carol Baird Ellan, former chief judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia; and the Liberals’ Terry Beech, entrepreneur and former city councillor. Tight race between qualified candidates aside—this riding is getting some extra attention with its prominence in the national energy debate as Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain pipeline route runs through the area.
Re-established North Island–Powell River is made up from pieces of Vancouver Island North and West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country—both of which have been represented by a combination of right-leaning parties for all but one election dating back to 1997. Laura Smith, who has worked in forest stewardship and served as advisor to Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan, hopes to add to the Conservative tally on the island as she faces off against Peter Schwartzhoff (Liberal) and Rachel Blaney (NDP). Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited this riding early in the election, signifying its importance to the governing party, while Green Party leader Elizabeth May paid a visit to open candidate Brenda Sayers’ office.
Edmonton Strathcona encompasses the University of Alberta, historically a left-leaning community. In 2008, NDP’s Linda Duncan defeated Conservative incumbent Rahim Jaffer and easily won re-election in 2011—splashing an orange wave on an otherwise blue-water province. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley also represents the same area as a member of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly. Duncan is the second NDP MP to be elected from Alberta, and the only opposition member currently representing the province. Duncan is an outspoken MP, who is the NDP critic for Environment, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, Public Works and Government Services, and most recently, Western Economic Diversification. Duncan faces challenges from seven other candidates, with strong opponents in lawyers Len Thom (Conservative) and Eleanor Olszewski (Liberal).
Since its inception in 2008, Elmwood–Transcona has been represented by the NDP’s Bill Blaikie until his retirement in 2008. The riding was won by another party only once: in 2011, when Conservative candidate Lawrence Toet claimed the seat with less than a thousand votes. Toet is running for re-election, but faces a tough challenge from Blaikie’s son, Daniel—making this a tight two-way race as the Liberal party has struggled to garner significant support during recent elections.
The party to win the former riding of Peterborough—now slightly remodelled and rebranded as Peterborough–Kawartha—has gone on to form government in every federal election since 1984. As though that wasn’t enough to make this seat a compelling race, former Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro vacated the seat in 2013 following charges he violated the Elections Act. Conservative candidate Michael Skinner hopes to recapture Del Mastro’s support, which was just shy of half the votes cast in the 2011 campaign. He faces Dave Nickle (NDP) and Maryam Monsef (Liberal).
For more than a decade, Kitchener Centre was represented by Karen Redman, a member of the Liberal party. In 2008, she was ousted when the seat was won by the Conservative party’s Stephen Woodworth for the first time. He went on to narrowly defeat Redman again in 2011. The Liberals have a new face in this pivotal riding: Raj Saini, a local pharmacist. Over the past several elections, the NDP has slowly chipped away at the Liberal and Conservative support and will look to take another step in that direction with the award-winning researcher and Renison University College School of Social Work director Susan Cadell.
Holding the seat since 2006, Conservative Christian Paradis has been a key member of Stephen Harper’s cabinet, holding a number of important files, including Minister of Industry, Minister for International Development and Minister for La Francophonie. Though Paradis has declined to run in this election, the Conservatives are hoping for more of the same success with the former mayor of Thetford Mines, Luc Berthold. He will run against the Liberals’ David Berthiaume and Jean-Francois Delisle who is working to expand the NDP’s already extensive reach in Quebec.
A more scandalous reason to watch this riding: Bloc Québécois candidate VirJiny Provost sparked a minor social media uproar for her response to a question regarding the three things she would need in a post-apocalyptic world.
After the Liberal party won this riding for five consecutive elections, Honoré–Mercier was swept away in an orange wave along with much of Quebec in 2011. Paulina Ayala will defend her seat for the first time, facing a familiar foe in Liberal candidate Pablo Rodriguez—former chair of the Quebec Liberal Caucus and co-chair of the campaign in the province—who held the seat for seven years before Ayala’s victory. Liberals have their sights set on the riding as they attempt to re-establish a foothold in Quebec.
The Conservative’s and Progressive Conservative’s hold on this Nova Scotia riding dates back to 1968. Liberals won this riding once, during the Progressive Conservative collapse in 1993, but have declined in popularity during recent elections. Gerald Keddy won the seat back from the Liberals in 1997 and has held it ever since, fending off three close calls from the NDP’s Gordon Earle. This time, neither Keddy nor Earle are running, which introduces constituents to a slate of new candidates: the Conservatives hope Richard Clark can maintain Keddy’s hold on the district; Alex Godbold aims to build on Gordon Earle’s close losses; and, the Liberals turn to Bernadette Jordan after witnessing declined support in the riding during recent campaigns.
Saskatoon West is made up of sections of two ridings that have elected a string of Conservative candidates in recent elections. Although it appears to be solidly Conservative from a distance, closer inspection reveals the potential for a much closer race. Carol Skelton (Conservative) won Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar from the NDP in 2000, managing the feat by less than 100 votes. The Conservatives have held it ever since, but the NDP have never been far behind. The reconfigured riding of Saskatoon West will test Conservative candidate Randy Donauer as he attempts to fend off Sheri Benson (NDP). The Liberals, represented by Lisa Abbott, have struggled to build support in the region having only one seat.
Canada’s first Inuk cabinet minister, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Environment, and former minister of health has served as Nunavut’s MP since 2008. She now faces two prominent opponents—former Liberal MP Jack Anawak now running for the NDP and Liberal candidate Hunter Tootoo, a member of Nunavut’s Legislative Assembly—giving this riding all the makings of a tight three-way race.