By John Ployer
With the Canadian election just three weeks away, more and more people are paying attention and trying to predict the results. While all party leaders have had their successes and failures this election, it’s important to remember that in Canada elections are not a race between party leaders; it is 338 races between candidates representing the national parties.
Last year the site 338Canada started to gain notoriety as Canada’s most detailed and comprehensive election predicting website. Through 338Canada we can determine some of Canada’s closest or more interesting ridings, why they are so interesting, and why the results in these ridings matter for all of Canada.
#1 – Cumberland-Colchester
This riding, just a short distance from PEI, can offer us a very interesting case study on Atlantic politics. While normally lean more Conservative, in 2015 the Liberal party won this riding in a landslide. While Trudeau remains popular in the Maritimes, this riding looks like it will be close. The incumbent MP is not re-running, and the new Liberal candidate, Lenore Zann, is an NDP MLA in the Nova Scotia legislature. the Conservative candidate, Scott Armstrong, was the MP for this riding until he lost in 2015. Will Cumberland-Colchester stay red or will it give Armstrong a second chance?
#2 – Fredericton
This mostly urban riding in New Brunswick offers us something rare in this part of Canada: a three-way race. Traditionally Fredicton has bounced between red and blue, but now many in this area are seeing green. The success of the Green Party provincially has lead many to believe the Green Party has a chance federally too. This riding voted for the Liberals in a landslide in 2015, but it’s anyone’s game in 2019 with the Liberals and Conservatives neck-and-neck in the polls and the Greens in the acendency. This riding will provide Canadians with a good measure of just how popular the Greens have become.
#3 – Saint-Hyacinthe–Bagot
This rural riding in the centre of Quebec is, like most of Quebec, difficult to predict. Quebec has a habit of bucking the trend and St-Hyacinthe-Bagot is no exception. In 2011 the NDP won this riding by a landslide, but in 2015 NDP MP Brigitte Sansoucy barely beat the Liberal candidate to keep the seat orange. Since 2015 NDP support in Quebec has crashed and her re-election is unlikely, but not impossible. According to 338Canada the Liberals, the Conservatives, and the Bloc Quebecois are all neck-and-neck, but the NDP and Greens are also polling above 10%. This race is extremely tight and vote splitting may mean whoever is elected wins with a very small plurality.
#4 – Markham-Stouffville
This mostly suburban riding just outside of Toronto would be part of the usual Liberal-Conservative battleground in the 905-belt if it were not for a woman by the name of Jane Philpott. Philpott, formerly Minister of Health, left cabinet in the wake of the SNC-Lavalin scandal. Philpott was kicked out of the Liberal Party for speaking out along with MP Jody Wilson-Raybould, both deciding to run as independents in 2019. Philpott beat out a longtime Conservative MP to win this seat in 2015, and now Philpott has to face another Conservative and a rival from her old party. In an ordinary election this would be a close race, but Philpott’s independent candidacy makes for an even more interesting race, one that will show how well an independent can to in the party-centered politics of Canada.
#5 – Eglinton-Lawrence
Being an urban riding in the centre of the GTA would usually make for an easy Liberal or NDP win, but Eglinton-Lawrence is unique is potentially the spot for a Conservative pickup. While traditionally a Liberal stronghold, the Conservatives has been gaining support in the York area for the past few election cycles. In 2011 a Conservative was elected in this riding for the first time since the 1970s. While currently Liberal, it’s likely to be a close race. More than just one riding, Eglinton-Lawrence is a measure of whether or not the Conservatives can become relevant in the GTA.
#6 – Regina-Wascana
This urban riding is Saskatchewan is unique in Western Canada: a red dot in a sea of blue. Regina-Wascana has been held by veteran Liberal MP Ralph Goodale since 1993, often as the sole Liberal in a province which overwhelmingly votes Conservative. While seen as unbeatable by some, Goodale may be in trouble in 2019. The Liberals have polled very low in Saskatchewan, so low that some believe Goodale will be in for a very tough time getting re-elected. Goodale losing in Regina-Wascana would be a major upset, but in an election as close as even some of the longest-serving MPs may not be safe.
#7 – Vancouver Granville
This urban riding in the center of Vancouver is usually a competitive race between the Liberals, the Conservatives, and the NDP, but this year promises to be one of Canada’s most interesting races. It’s MP, Jody Wilson-Raybould, was formerly Attorney General of Canada, but left cabinet and later was kicked out of the Liberal Party for allegedly opposing the Prime Minister during the SNC-Lavalin scandal. She has since decided to run as an independent, and 338Canada predicts her to be in a dramatically close tie with the Liberal candidate. This riding is important because it will show whether or not an independent can be elected in Canada’s highly-partisan culture.
#8 – Cowichan-Malahat-Langford
This rural riding in the south of Vancouver island reflects how the growth of third parties are making races tighter and more competitive. Traditionally a battleground between the NDP and Conservatives, the rise of the Greens and Liberals on the west coast has lead to an increasingly close race. The current MP, Alistair MacGregor of the NDP, has a tough time trying to beat the Greens, who has seen a surge of support in British Columbia. The Conservatives are now in third, but still have a chance. While the Liberals remain a distant fourth according to 338Canada, how they split the vote may mean that anyone could capture Cowichan-Malahat-Langford come October 21.