Last week, we told you about some of the key ridings to watch. This week, we’re revealing the names of some of this election’s fiercest competitors—many of whom are new to the game. H+K’s top picks include journalists, mayors, military officers and activists, all vying for a seat in the next Parliament. Will they have what it takes to win their seats and boost their party’s fortunes?

Why she’s a contender: Oreck is a media-savvy Vancouver Granville native and her resumé is impressive. Currently the director of public engagement with the Broadbent Institute, she previously worked at a boutique communications firm in New York City where she co-created two of the most widely viewed online videos in the 2012 U.S. Presidential race. Oreck began her career in Washington D.C. as an advocate for the Friends of the Earth environmental group and has acted as the executive director of the Canadian Jewish Congress. Her vast experience as an advocate and activist in North America will up her chances in winning the bid for Vancouver Granville’s seat.
Will she win? Vancouver Granville is a new riding, cobbled from three other ridings in Vancouver (South, Centre and Kingsway), so there’s no incumbent to indicate which way the electorate will vote. Currently, Oreck is breathing down the neck of the Liberal candidate, Jody Wilson-Raybould, with about 30 per cent of the vote in her corner.

Why he’s a contender: Bill Morneau is a star candidate for the Liberals with an extensive resumé loaded with business acumen, political experience and community service. Morneau’s long career in business has been spent predominantly with Morneau Shepell, a consulting and outsourcing company focused on health, benefits, retirement and employee assistance needs. He is active with the Pension Investment Advisor committee to the Ontario Minister of Health, St. Michael’s Hospital, Covenant House and the C.D. Howe Institute. He’s done charitable work with the Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation, The Learning Partnership, the London School of Economics North American Advisory Committee and the Canadian INSEAD Foundation. If all this wasn’t enough, he found the time to start a school for Somali and Sudanese youth in a refugee camp in Africa. Within the Liberal organization, he’s one of Justin Trudeau’s Economic Council of Advisors—so expect him to be showcased by the party throughout the election.
Will he win? Maybe—he’s got stiff competition from the NDP’s Linda McQuaig, whose oil sands views may not be popular nationwide, but seem to resonate with the downtown Toronto crowd. McQuaig is currently polling at 47 per cent, with Morneau trailing around 38 per cent. But Toronto Centre is another new riding created from two Liberal seats—there may be still be some incumbent love for the Liberals.

Why she’s a contender: Dianne Watts is a known quantity in South Surrey-White Rock. She holds the title of Surrey, B.C.’s first female mayor—and she held that title for 10 years, with another nine years as a city councillor. Her political experience and community involvement make her a high-profile candidate for the Conservative Party. As mayor, the Real Estate Investment Network named Surrey the best place in B.C. to invest and 4th best city in Canada for four years straight.
Will she win? It’s likely. South Surrey-White Rock has traditionally been a Conservative stronghold, and Watts is a fantastic candidate. If the Conservatives again form government, she may be considered for a cabinet position given her experience.

Why he’s a contender: Alain Rayes is the mayor of Victoriaville, Quebec and the official Conservative candidate for Richmond-Arthabaska. Quebec media have reported Rayes is doing this to keep his political options open. He is retaining his role as mayor and is expected to only step down if successful on October 19. Mayor since 2009, he’s running against former Bloq Québécois and current Independent André Bellavance who currently holds the seat. The riding had previously been held by a Progressive Conservative, André Bachand (1997-2004). Before becoming mayor, Rayes worked in education holding various management positions in primary and secondary schools. He’s incredibly active and well-liked in his community, so his campaign will be interesting to watch.
Will he win? Rayes is the best shot to unseat the incumbent NDP candidate Myriam Beaulieu. The NDP’s Orange Crush in Quebec looks to be holding strong in the early days of polling, but the Conservatives hold a competitive second in this riding—and it’s a long campaign.

Why he’s a contender: Jim Carr is a man of many talents, and he’s critical to the Liberals’ fortunes in Manitoba. He is an accomplished musician, a journalist, provincial politician and successful businessman. He has played with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, worked for the Winnipeg Free Press and CBC Radio, was deputy leader for the Liberal Party in the Manitoba Legislature and founding CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba. Are you impressed yet? For good measure, he was also awarded the Canada 125 Medal, the Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Order of Manitoba.
Will he win? Carr is polling well in the new riding of Winnipeg South Centre—it seems like it’s his to lose at this point.

Why he’s a contender: As one of the most recognizable faces in Calgary, Hehr has done everything and been everywhere around the province of Alberta. This Calgary native won the Alberta Junior Hockey League Championship, survived being shot in a drive-by shooting and was named as one of the 40 top graduates over the last 40 years by the University of Calgary. He is a successful lawyer who also heads the Canadian Paraplegic Association Alberta branch. Calgary Inc. Magazine named him Top 40 Under 40 and the Calgary Herald followed that by saying he is one of the “20 most compelling Calgarians to watch.” A star in his community and professionally, Hehr became an MLA representing Calgary-Buffalo from 2008-15. In this role he was shadow minister for justice, finance and education, amongst others. A staunch defender of public education and equal rights for the LGBTQ community, Hehr is a rising Liberal star to watch in this election.
Will he win? Alberta is still land of the Conservatives outside of Edmonton, but if anyone has a shot for a Liberal breakthrough in the blue ridings of Calgary—it’s Hehr.

Why he’s a contender: Andrew Leslie is a decorated retired Lieutenant-General with 35 years of service in the Canadian Armed Forces. He comes from a distinguished lineage, whose family served Canadians within the Canadian military service and in federal politics. His father was a Brigadier General during the Korean War, his one grandfather was a former Chief of the General Staff and Minister of National Defence and his other was also a former Canadian Minister of National Defence. He is co-chair of the Liberal Party of Canada for the International Advisory Committee and just so full disclosure is provided, Leslie was also an associate with Hill+Knowlton Strategies in Ottawa. Need we say more?
Will he win? Leslie definitely has the clout to beat the incumbent, Royal Galipeau of the Conservatives. Our totally unbiased opinion is “Yes.”

Why he’s a contender: Harjit Sajjan has had a long and distinguished career with the Canadian Armed Forces and Vancouver Police Force, and deep roots in Vancouver South, where he’s lived since he was five years old. His professional background will no doubt help him at the polls. A former Lieutenant-Colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces, Sajjan served in four operational deployments; one to Bosnia and three deployments to Afghanistan. He worked for the Vancouver Police for 11 years as a detective of the Gang Crime Unit.
Will he win? Recent riding polling showed Sajjan with a clear lead of almost 50 per cent—we think he can hold this battleground.

Why he’s a contender: Gil McGowan is a prominent union activist and president of the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) who was named one of Alberta’s “50 most influential people” by Venture Magazine. As president of the AFL he was very vocal on many issues, especially in support of reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. He is an advocate for stronger retirement security, affordable childcare and for refining Alberta’s resources in Alberta. He is a founding member of a non-partisan research center focused on Albertan issues at the University of Alberta’s Parkland Institute. Look for him to be active when it comes to labour issues on the campaign trail.
Will he win? It’s a tight three-way race in Edmonton Centre between the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP, but McGowan does have the edge.

Why he’s a contender: He came out of the gates blazing by defeating Conservative cabinet minister Lynne Yelich for the nomination. He is a CTV sports broadcaster (currently on leave) who is very well-known and popular in the riding. This riding was reconfigured in 2013 and is now very urban compared to its previous rural composition. Nicknamed the “Most well-known personality in the city,” Waugh boasts that he’s been in every living room in the riding for close to four decades. He has been heavily involved within the community, serving as a school trustee for 10 years and working closely with Saskatoon Food Bank, KidSport Canada and the Saskatchewan School Boards Association.
Will he win? Waugh unseated the previous incumbent (a sitting cabinet minister) in the Conservative nomination battle, with 54 per cent of the vote—impressive. But it’s a close fight with the NDP’s Scott Thomas Bell.

Why he’s a contender: Seamus O’Regan is a familiar face to Canadians due to his decade-long stint as host of CTV’s Canada AM. Before CTV, he was senior policy advisor to former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Brian Tobin and executive assistant to former justice minister Ed Roberts. He was active as national ambassador for the Bell’s Let’s Talk mental health campaign which makes him a known commodity in his ridings and across the country. His star power will be leveraged by the LPC and he is one to watch throughout the campaign.
Will he win? He’s got stiff competition from NDP incumbent Ryan Cleary, but O’Regan is mounting a serious challenge.