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This just in: 25 ridings to watch in this election

By Aidan Chamandy and Neil Moss      

From British Columbia, to the East Coast, here are some of the juiciest races to keep an eye on in this campaign.

Canada's 43rd federal election campaign was launched on Sept. 11, 2019, in Ottawa. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

British Columbia 

  • 1. Vancouver Granville, B.C.: Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould and Liberal candidate Taleeb Noormohamed

    • Canada’s former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, the central figure in the SNC-Lavalin scandal and the one who blew the whistle on her own government, is seeking to represent the riding after leaving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet and being expelled from the Liberal caucus for secretly recording a conversation with then-Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick. Ms. Wilson-Raybould alleges the prime minister and his staff tried to pressure her to help SNC-Lavalin avoid a criminal trial over its dealings with Libya. Mr. Trudeau says he has done nothing wrong. Ms. Wilson-Raybould was recruited as a star candidate in 2015, and won the riding with 44% of the vote, beating Conservative candidate Mira Oreck, who earned 26.9%. Mr. Noormohamed was acclaimed as the Liberal candidate on Aug. 13. He ran unsuccessfully as the federal Liberal candidate for North Vancouver in 2011, garnering nearly 30% of the vote, but lost to Conservative Andrew Saxton, who won 48.6%. A recent Mainstreet/iPolitics poll showed a tight race, with Mr. Noormohamed (28.6%) leading Ms. Wilson-Raybould (26%) by just two percentage points, which is within the plus-or-minus 4.41 point margin of error. 
  • 2. Vancouver Kingsway, B.C.: NDP MP Don Davies, Liberal candidate Tamara Taggart and Conservative candidate Helen Quan 

    • NDP MP Don Davies is being challenged by Liberal Tamara Taggart, a former local CTV anchor who was fired in April 2018 in a Bell Media purge. Ms. Taggart is a high-profile candidate after her years on television. Mr. Davies is his party’s health critic and has represented the riding since 2008. In the 2015 election, he won 45.7% of the vote, followed by Liberal runner-up Steven Kou with 27.8%. 338Canada also shows Conservative candidate Helen Quan within striking distance. She is involved in numerous community organizations and has received awards for her community service. The Liberals hosted a campaign kickoff event in the riding on Sept. 11, with several cabinet ministers, including the prime minister, who flew directly to British Columbia after announcing the election call in Ottawa the same day. The Liberals are targeting this riding. 
  • 3. Burnaby North-Seymour, B.C.: Liberal MP Terry Beech, NDP candidate Svend Robinson and Conservative candidate Heather Leung

    • Liberal MP Terry Beech is a rookie who was first elected in 2015. He won with 36% of the vote, edging out NDP candidate Carol Baird Ellan who won 29.6%, and Conservative candidate Mike Little who earned 27.8%. Mr. Beech was first elected to public office in 1999 at the age of 18, serving on Nanaimo’s City Council, becoming the youngest ever elected official in the province. He won the 2018 Maclean’s Magazine Parliamentarian of the Year for Best Civic Outreach. NDP candidate Svend Robinson is looking to make a big federal political comeback, after representing three different ridings between 1979 and 2004. Mr. Robinson, once a high-profile NDP MP, was the first parliamentarian to come out as gay while in office. Burnaby North-Seymour was created in 2013 from Burnaby-Douglas and North Vancouver. Mr. Robinson represented Burnaby-Douglas from 1997 to 2004. Conservative candidate Heather Leung has been clear about her anti-abortion views and her opposition to B.C.’s sexual orientation and gender identity policy in public schools. 
  • 4. Burnaby South, B.C.: NDP MP Jagmeet Singh, Liberal candidate Neelam Brar, and Conservative candidate Jay Shin

    • NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will look to keep his seat in Parliament after beating Liberal candidate Richard T. Lee, 38.9% to 26%, in a 2019 byelection. The riding was created in 2013 from parts of Burnaby-Douglas and Burnaby-New Westminster, both of which were NDP strongholds. NDP MP Peter Julian has held Brunaby-New Westminster since 2004. Neelam Brar was recently chosen as the Liberal candidate after the Liberal byelection candidate Richard T. Lee dropped out of the general election contest to care for his sick wife. Conservative candidate Jay Shin will be contesting the seat again, hoping to improve on his third-place finish in the byelection where he won 22.6%. In the byelection, People’s Party candidate Laura-Lynn Thompson won just under 11% of the vote, but chose to run in Red Deer-Lacombe, Alta., in the 2019 general election. Al Rawdah is the current PPC candidate. 
  • 5. Victoria, B.C.: Green candidate Racelle Kooy, Liberal candidate Nikki Macdonald, NDP candidate Laurel Collins

    • Former NDP MP Murray Rankin, who announced in January he wouldn’t run in the 2019 election, was selected by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to chair the new National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, created as a result of Bill C-59. Laurel Collins, a Victoria city councillor, will replace Mr. Rankin as the NDP candidate. Mr. Rankin, a well-regarded MP, first ran for the seat in a 2012 byelection, garnering 37% of the vote, to Green candidate Donald Galloway’s 34%. In 2015, Mr. Rankin beat Green candidate Jo-Ann Roberts with 42% of the vote while Ms. Roberts earned 33%. Vancouver Island represents the Greens’ best chance to gain additional seats in the House, and 338Canada has the Green candidate Racelle Kooy narrowly leading the NDP and Liberal candidates, who are tied. 
  • 6. North Island-Powell River, B.C.: NDP MP Rachel Blaney, Liberal candidate Peter Schhwarzhoff, Conservative candidate Shelley Downey, Green candidate Mark de Brujin 

    • 338Canada lists North Island-Powell River as a very tight, four-way race. The riding is currently represented by NDP MP Rachel Blaney, who won with 40% of the vote in 2015, beating Conservative runner-up Laura Smith who garnered 26.2%. She serves as the party’s critic for seniors and critic for veterans affairs. The Green candidate Mark de Brujin will be looking to improve on his party’s 2015 fourth-place finish in the riding and capitalize on the Greens’ increasing support nationwide. Conservative candidate Shelley Downey is currently leading, according to 338Canada.com, and has served as a Port McNeil councillor and school trustee. Liberal candidate Peter Schwarzhoff is looking to improve on his third-place finish in the 2015 election, when he garnered just over 25% of the vote. 
  • 7. Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, B.C.: NDP MP Randall Garrison, Liberal candidate Jamie Hammond, Green candidate David Merner. 

    • This is another important riding for the Green Party on Vancouver Island. NDP MP Randall Garrison, his party’s defence and LGBTQ2+ critic, will look to retain his seat in the face of Green momentum. David Merner, the Green candidate, ran as a Liberal against Mr. Garrison in the 2015 election, losing 35% to 27.4%. In 2015, the Greens garnered 20% of the vote, enough for third place, and spent nearly $120,000. 338Canada.com currently shows Mr. Merner with a slim lead over Liberal candidate Jamie Hammond. Mr. Hammond is a veteran of the Armed Forces, having served in Bosnia and Afghanistan. The riding is home to the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, Canada’s Pacific Coast naval base, and home to more than 4,000 military personnel and 2,762 civilians who work at CFB Esquilmalt.


  • 8. Edmonton Mill Woods, Alta.: Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi and Conservative candidate Tim Uppal 

    • In 2015, Amarjeet Sohi, now minister of natural resources, defeated then-Conservative MP Tim Uppal by 92 votes. Mr. Sohi won 41.2% of the total vote while Mr. Uppal won 41.1%. Mr. Uppal previously represented Edmonton-Sherwood Park from 2008 (35.8%) to 2015 (41.1%), and served as minister for democratic reform from May 2011 to July 2013. The riding was first contested in 2015, after having been created from part of Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont, which was held by Conservative MP Mike Lake from 2006 to 2015. Turnout in the 2015 election was 67.8%, just shy of the national average of 68.3%. Both Mr. Sohi and Mr. Uppal spent well over $100,000 on their campaigns in the 2015 election. Mr. Sohi spent $136,379.94, while Mr. Uppal spent $126,472.41. As minister of natural resources, Mr. Sohi was largely responsible for handling the pipeline file, which has been highly contentious, especially in Alberta. The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5-billion. 
  • 9. Edmonton Centre, Alta.: Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, Conservative candidate James Cumming 

    • After edging out Conservative candidate James Cumming, 37.2% to 34.9%, in the 2015 election, Liberal MP Randy Boissinnault, special adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on LGBTQ2+ issues, will be hard-pressed to retain his seat. Alberta is almost always solidly blue. The Conservatives hold 28 of the province’s 34 seats and Mr. Boissonnault barely won the seat in 2015. The Liberals currently hold three seats in the province and will be in for a tough fight. James Cumming is running again in 2019, and is expected to win the riding. In 2015, both the Liberals and Conservatives spent a considerable amount of money on the race, $126,839.87 and $132,838.67, respectively. The riding was represented by Conservative Laurie Hawn from 2006 to 2015, before he announced in 2014 he wouldn’t run in the 2015 race. Mr. Cummings is the former president and CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce. 


  • 10. Churchill-Keewatinook Aski, Man.: NDP MP Niki Ashton, Liberal candidate Judy Klassen

    •  High-profile NDP MP Niki Ashton has represented the riding since 2008, but the 2015 election saw her edge out Liberal candidate Rebecca Chartrand, 45% to 42%, her smallest margin of victory. It is a very large northern riding that runs to the border of Nunavut. Ms. Ashton ran unsuccessfully for NDP leadership in 2012 and 2017, placing seventh and third, respectively. Her father, Steve Ashton, was a Manitoba NDP MLA and minister in two cabinets. She serves as the NDP critic for jobs, employment, precarious work, and workforce development, and deputy critic for reconciliation. She was also a proponent of the #HandsOfVenezuela movement. Liberal candidate Judy Klassen was the interim leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party from Oct. 2016 to June 2017, the first female Indigenous leader of the provincial Liberals. 338 Canada lists the riding as a toss up. 


  • 11. Burlington, Ont.: Liberal MP and Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould, Conservative candidate Jane Michael 

    • Currently held by Liberal MP and Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould. Ms. Gould won in 2015 by just over three points, garnering 45.98% of the vote to then-Conservative incumbent Mike Wallace’s 42.48%. Mr. Wallace represented the riding from 2006 to 2015. The riding will be hotly contested. It is part of the 905 region which is a crucial battleground area to both Liberal and Conservative fortunes. Conservative candidate Jane Michael ran unsuccessfully for the 2018 provincial Progressive Conservative nomination. 
  • 12. Eglinton-Lawrence, Ont.: Liberal MP Marco Mendicino and Conservative candidate Chani Aryeh-Bain 

    • Eglinton-Lawrence is a heavily Jewish riding at the centre of the debate around delaying the election to accommodate Jewish voters who would be unable to vote due to the election being held on Shemini Atzeret, a Jewish holiday. Conservative candidate Chani Aryeh-Bain is Orthodox, and filed a lawsuit to delay the election. Election Commissioner Stéphane Perrault decided against recommending delaying the election, citing numerous alternative voting methods Orthodox Jewish voters could use, such as advance polls. The riding is currently held by Liberal MP Marco Mendicino who garnered nearly 49% of the vote in 2015, edging out then-Conservative MP and finance minister Joe Oliver, who won 42.6%. The race is very tight, and turnout may play a decisive role in the ultimate outcome. Prior to Mr. Oliver winning in 2011, the riding had been represented by Liberals since 1979. Longtime Liberal MP Joe Volpe held the riding from 1988 to 2011. 
  • 13. Kanata-Carleton, Ont.: Liberal MP Karen McCrimmon and Conservative candidate Justina McCaffrey

    • Liberal MP Karen McCrimmon, a former lieutenant colonel and the first woman to command an RCAF squadron, won the riding with 52.3% of the vote, beating Conservative candidate Walter Pamic, who garnered 39.2%. The riding was first contested in 2015, after being created from parts of Carleton-Mississippi Mills and Nepean-Carleton. Both of those ridings were Conservative strongholds, having been represented by Pierre Poilievre and Gordon O’Connor since 2004. Ms. McCrimmon ran unsuccessfully against Mr. O’Connor in Carleton-Mississippi Mills in the 2011 election, losing by a margin of 56.9% to 23.9%. She then ran for the Liberal leadership in 2013, coming in sixth, with under one per cent of the vote. Conservative candidate Justina McCaffrey is well-known for her Ottawa bridal dress business, McCaffrey Haute Couture, which went bankrupt in 2015.
  • 14. Milton, Ont.: Conservative MP Lisa Raitt and Liberal candidate Adam van Koeverden 

    • Popular and high-profile Conservative Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt is facing off against Olympic gold medal-winning kayaker Adam van Koeverden for the Milton House seat. Mr. van Koeverden was twice named flag bearer for the Canadian Olympic team, one of the only athletes ever to carry it twice. Over his Olympic career, Mr. van Koeverden won four medals, one gold. Ms. Raitt first ran in Halton in 2008, and represented the riding until it was redistributed in 2013 into five different ridings, Milton being one. In 2015, Ms. Raitt won 45.4% of the vote, beating Liberal candidate Azim Rizvee, who won 40.4%. She served as minister of natural resources, transport, and labour under Stephen Harper, and finance critic under interim leader Rona Ambrose. She ran for the Conservative leadership in 2017, eventually dropping out after the seventh round after failing to crack 4% support. 
  • 15. Ottawa Centre, Ont.: Liberal MP and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna and NDP candidate Emilie Taman 

    • Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is seeking reelection, running against NDP candidate Emiiey Taman, a former Crown prosecutor. Ms. McKenna’s tenure as environment minister has been dogged by harsh criticism, including sexist remarks and death threats. She has mainly been responsible for selling the Liberals’ highly contentious carbon tax, but various environmental policies have sparked nasty debate on the House floor and on social media. She won the riding in 2015 with 42.7% of the vote, defeating then-NDP MP Paul Dewar who won 38.5%. Mr. Dewar, who died of cancer in February, represented the riding from 2008 to 2015 and was considered a star. Ms. Taman is the daughter of former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour. In 2015, Ms. Taman came in second place in Ottawa-Vanier, winning nearly 20% of the vote. In a 2017 byelection in the same riding, she won nearly 29%. Ottawa Centre tends to flip between the Liberals and the NDP. Historically, Ottawa Centre turnout is one of the highest rates in the country. Turnout in 2015 was 82.8%. This one will be a nail-biter. 
  • 16. Peterborough-Kawartha, Ont.: Liberal MP and Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality Maryam Monsef, Conservative candidate Michael Skinner 

    • The same Liberal and Conservative candidates will again battle against each other for a seat in the House. Liberal Maryam Monsef won 43.8% of the vote to Conservative Michael Skinner’s 35% in the 2015 election. Both candidates spent more than $150,000 in the race. The riding historically swings between Liberal and Conservative. Mr. Skinner is an entrepreneur who has focused on green technology over the course of his career. Ms. Monsef previously served as minister of democratic institutions. She was criticized for her government’s handling of electoral reform, a key campaign promise that went unfulfilled, disappointing many supporters. She ran for mayor of Peterborough in 2014, coming in second with 36.5% of the vote to Darryl Bennett’s 41.4%. Ms. Monsef is the first Afghan-Canadian MP in Canada’s history and the first Muslim to serve in cabinet. 
  • 17. Kenora, Ont.: Liberal MP Bob Nault, NDP candidate Rudy Turtle, and Conservative candidate Eric Melillo 

    • The NDP recruited Grassy Narrows chief Rudy Turtle to run for them against incumbent Liberal MP Bob Nault. Chief Turtle’s community has been grappling with mercury contamination for decades, and the issue has been dogging the Liberal government, as past attempts at solving the crisis have failed. At a fundraising event earlier this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was interrupted by a Grassy Narrows protestor, and the prime minister then said, “Thank you for your donation,” for which he was widely criticized. Under the Chrétien government, Mr. Nault served as minister of Indian affairs and northern development from 1999 to 2003. In the 2004, he did not seek re-election. In 2015, Mr. Nault won 35.4% of the vote to NDP candidate Howard Hampton’s 33.7%. Prior to Mr. Nault, Kenora was represented by Conservative Greg Rickford from 2008 to 2015. Conservative candidate Eric Melillo is 21 years old and spent time working in Mr. Rickford’s office. This one’s also going to be a nail biter. 


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