One of only two seats in the province to go Liberal in the 2004 election, Edmonton-Mill Woods-Beaumont is considered the wildcard during this campaign.Longtime MP David Kilgour, who represented the riding for 26 years, both as a Conservative and a Liberal, is not running.
In 2004, he won the seat by 132 votes. Amarjit Grewal will try to retain the riding for the Liberals, while Mike Lake is the Conservative candidate. University of Alberta political scientist Steve Patten says both sides are trying to determine to what extent the "David Kilgour effect" influenced voting patterns.
Kilgour, first elected as a Conservative in 1979, was expelled from the party in 1990 because of his opposition to the GST. He joined the Liberals and remained with the party until last spring, when he left over concerns about same-sex marriage and the Gomery inquiry.Patten says Kilgour followed a small "c" conservative path during his career, indicating that the riding itself tends to be that way.
Jim Lightbody, a political scientist at the University of Alberta, says the riding has a diverse constituency, which makes it difficult to predict.Neal Gray is running in the riding for the NDP, while Kate Harrington is the Green party candidate.
Edmonton Centre: After last election's razor-thin win, Liberal Anne McLellan faces off against Conservative Laurie Hawn.
Anne McLellan has never had an easy time securing her seat in this central Edmonton riding. Her close victories – including a 12-vote squeaker in 1993 – earned her the nickname Landslide Annie and gave the Conservatives hope they can completely remove the Liberals from the Alberta landscape.
Although the Liberals won two of the province's 28 seats in the 2004 election, McLellan is the last one standing. Her Edmonton colleague, David Kilgour, left the party last spring to sit as an Independent.
In this, her fifth election, the deputy prime minister will again face off against Conservative Laurie Hawn, a former fighter pilot she defeated by 721 votes in 2004.
University of Alberta political science professor Steve Patten predicts the race for Edmonton Centre will again be close, because past voting patterns show there "isn't a pool of voters flipping back and forth." For that reason, the result is likely to hinge on how effective the parties are in getting out their vote, Patten added.
Donna Martyn is running for the NDP, which captured about 5,000 votes in 2004, while David Parker is carrying the Green flag.
The NDP, the Liberals and the Conservatives are all running the same candidates they ran in 2004 in the riding of Burnaby-Douglas, which was held by former NDP MP Svend Robinson for 25 years.
Incumbent NDP Bill Siksay – Robinson's assistant from 1986 to 2004 – became the candidate in 2004 when Robinson stepped down after admitting he had stolen an expensive ring.
Siksay defeated Liberal Bill Cunningham – the past president of the B.C. wing of the federal Liberal party – by just 934 votes in their first battle.
Cunningham was appointed as the candidate by Prime Minister Paul Martin in 2004 – which generated accusations of race-based discrimination, because the appointment ended the hopes of two Asian candidates who had been campaigning for the nomination.
The 15-members of the Burnaby-Douglas Liberal riding executive then resigned en masse to protest Cunningham's appointment, accusing Martin of disregarding democracy.
Cunningham was hired later that same year as the executive director and senior advisor at the Ministers Regional Office in Vancouver
The Conservative candidate in 2004, George Drazenovic, is also running again.
The Lower Mainland riding of Newton-North Delta was the scene of high drama in the run-up to the election, with the announcement by controversial incumbent Conservative MP Gurmant Grewal that he would not be the candidate.
Grewal has been the subject of several investigations, after going public with secret recordings he made of his discussions with senior Liberal officials about possible appointments for himself and his wife Nina, who is the Tory MP in the adjoining riding of Fleetwood-Port Kells.
After Grewal's announcement, Surrey's ex-mayor Doug McCallum – who had been a Liberal – announced he had been asked to run in Newton-North Delta by Conservative campaign co-chair John Reynolds.
But McCallum failed to get his nomination papers in by the deadline, blaming riding officials for not giving him enough lead-time.
However, B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition president Phil Eidsvik did file his papers on time, and was acclaimed by the riding association members two days later.
The coalition is opposed to First Nations-only commercial fisheries.
Eidsvik is up against Liberal Sukh Dhaliwal and New Democrat Nancy Clegg – who both ran against Grewal in 2004.
With about 41,000 votes in play, Grewal edged Dhaliwal by just 520 votes. Clegg finished third, 972 votes behind Dhaliwal.
One of the most interesting election races in B.C. – and possibly the country – is the battle in Vancouver Centre between incumbent Liberal MP Hedy Fry and her high-profile NDP challenger, Svend Robinson
Fry was a giant-killer when she first ran for the Liberals back in 1993, defeating then Prime Minister Kim Campbell. She was named the secretary of state for multiculturalism.
Her political career hit a rough spot in 2001 when she erroneously claimed that crosses were being burned on lawns in Prince George, labelling the northern B.C. city a hotbed of racism.
She retracted the statement and apologized. But the political damage was done, and she was dropped from cabinet less than a year later.
Robinson had been the MP for the suburban riding of Burnaby-Douglas for 25 years when he stepped down in disgrace last year after tearfully admitting he had stolen an expensive ring.
Saying he had been battling severe stress, he pleaded guilty in court to a charge of theft over $5,000 and was given a conditional discharge, which means he has no criminal record.
Robinson, who has disclosed he suffers from a bipolar disorder, says there is still too much stigma attached to mental illness.
Both Robinson and Fry have been strong advocates for the riding's influential gay community.
Tony Fogarassy is the Conservative candidate, while Jared Evans is running for the Green party.
Fry had a close call in the last election, trailing the NDP in the polls until late in the campaign when voters decided to vote for her strategically, to block the Conservatives.
NDP candidate Catherine Bell is hoping she is luckier in her second attempt to win in Vancouver Island North in 2006 – after losing a nail-biter to Conservative incumbent John Duncan in 2004.
The retired union executive lost by just 427 votes.
Duncan was first elected as a Reform MP in 1993, in what had been traditional NDP country – and had easily won re-election in 1997 and 2000.
But in the 2004 election, Bell says it was "neck-and-neck" as she managed to take a lot of votes from the veteran Conservative MP, and she predicts it will be close again this time.
NDP strategists point out the Conservative vote in B.C. has fallen in each of the past two elections while theirs has risen. And they say that means even a small shift this time could give New Democrats many more seats, including Vancouver Island North.
Duncan, a former forester, says the NDP's new strength means closer scrutiny for its candidates, which he hopes will "change the dynamics of the election in B.C. considerably."
Also affecting those dynamics is the Green party, which won eight per cent of the vote in the riding in the last election, for one of their better showings in the country. And now the party has more than a million dollars in extra funding to spend on the races where it has the best chances of doing well.
Meanwhile, Liberal candidate Jim Mitchell says he knows he faces an uphill battle, as it has been 60 years since a Liberal won on the Northern Island.
All eight of the Liberals' seats in B.C. after the last election were either in Vancouver or Victoria, with the party completely shut out in the rest of the province.
Victoria: Major environmental issue for voters in Victoria
With long-time Victoria MP David Anderson not running again, the Liberals are hoping to replace the former environment minister with David Mulroney – who lost in Saanich-Gulf Islands in 2004.
Mulroney has already parted ways with Anderson on a major local issue – Victoria's raw sewage being dumped into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Mulroney says it's time the region had sewage treatment, and says he would secure federal funding for the project.
His position is aimed at attracting the support of the capital city's considerable environmental movement – voters who might otherwise be drawn to the Green party or to NDP candidate Denise Savoie.
The Greens took almost 12 per cent of the vote in Victoria in the last election, and may have cost the NDP a victory. But Savoie has won over some key Green support this time, including former Victoria city councillor Alistair Craighead, a former deputy leader of the B.C. Green party.
"I would encourage anyone who wants to see Green policies enacted in Parliament to support Denise because Denise does have a chance of being elected," he said.
Ariel Lade is running for the Greens in Victoria this time.
Meanwhile, Conservative candidate Robin Baird faces a tough campaign, with the knowledge that it's been more than two decades since the riding sent a Conservative to Ottawa.
Charleswood-St. James: Conservative Steven Fletcher and Liberal John Loewen duke it out over west Winnipeg
Conservative incumbent Fletcher is expected to face tough competition from the new Liberal candidate, John Loewen, who resigned from the provincial Progressive Conservative Party to take on the federal candidacy in this west Winnipeg riding.
The two rivals know each other well, and both acknowledge they're in for a tough fight.
In the last federal election, Fletcher squeaked past the Liberal candidate, former Winnipeg mayor Glen Murray, by a margin of 700 votes in a race that was considered one of the hottest in the province.
In becoming the country's first quadriplegic member of Parliament, Fletcher also overturned more than 10 years of steady Liberal victories in the riding. The high-profile rookie MP took on the post of health critic in the Tories' shadow cabinet.
Dennis Kshyk is the NDP candidate in the riding. Kshyk also campaigned for the federal NDP in Charleswood-St. James in the 2000 federal election, finishing fourth against Liberal incumbent John Harvard, who was appointed the province's lieutenant governor, just one day after stepping aside to give Murray a shot the federal seat in 2004.
The NDP trailed the Tories and Liberal candidates by more than 10,000 votes in the 2004 election.
Churchill: Familiar names on the ballot in northern Manitoba
Getting their names out to voters is one of the biggest challenges candidates face in the Churchill riding.
The area is geographically enormous but sparsely populated – including the entire province north of the 53rd parallel as well as most of the land east of Lake Winnipeg – and many communities are only accessible by ice road or by air.
So perhaps it's not surprising that the names of the candidates in the 2006 race are already familiar to the residents of the riding: it gives candidates who may not be able to actually visit voters a neighbourly appeal.
Bev Desjarlais, who has represented Churchill as a New Democrat for eight years, is running as an Independent in the race. Desjarlais quit the NDP in October and sat as an Independent after she lost the NDP nomination in the riding; the vote was held shortly after she voted against the federal same-sex marriage bill.
Desjarlais was the only NDP member in the country to vote against the bill. Desjarlais lost the nomination race to political newcomer Niki Ashton, 23. Ashton says politics is her passion, and it might run in the family: many northerners will recognize her as the daughter of provincial NDP cabinet minister Steve Ashton.
Desjarlais and Ashton, while known in the Churchill riding, are facing off against a Liberal candidate who has the advantage of being seen in many constituents' living rooms: actress Tina Keeper, who starred in the TV show North of 60.
Nezir Ahmad, current city councillor and former mayor of the northeastern community of Flin Flon, has also thrown his hat into the ring for the Conservatives. The Tory party has not held the Churchill seat since 1979. Perhaps the least-known candidate is Jeff Fountain for the Green party, a teacher who has worked in the INCO refinery in Thompson.
Two candidates who faced off in the tightest race in Manitoba during the 2004 election are preparing for a rematch in 2006.
Conservative Joy Smith edged past Liberal Terry Duguid by a mere 278 votes in 2004 to take the riding, which includes the northeast corner of Winnipeg and the municipalities of East and West St. Paul, which are a mix of rural areas and affluent exurban subdivisions. This time around, Duguid is trying to sell himself as a "progressive" candidate, hoping to convince people who might vote NDP or Green to instead cast their ballots for him in an effort to oust the incumbent Tory.
Both Smith and the NDP candidate, Evelyn Myskiw, doubt NDP voters will be convinced to vote Liberal. But if the strategy works on even a small percentage of the 8,000 people who voted NDP last time around, the results on Jan. 23 could come as a surprise to all of the candidates.
Saint John: Historically Conservative riding that sent Elsie Wayne to Ottawa might shun the Liberals again
The incomparable Tory MP Elsie Wayne retired from federal politics before the 2004 election, clearing the way for her longtime foe Paul Zed to take the seat for the Liberals. He managed it by only 3,513 votes, or 9.67 per cent, over Conservative candidate Bob McVicar. (The NDP candidate in that race, Terry Albright, came third with 19.06 per cent of the vote and is running again.)
This time out, Zed is running against John Wallace. He’s a local lawyer who determinedly shepherded a popular waterfront trail project through its early stages, after years of people merely talking about how nice it would be to have. The Harbour Passage now lets locals and tourists alike stroll along the shore in the midst of the Fundy City and take in its bustling port scene.
Zed was the MP for the neighbouring riding of Fundy Royal before the Liberal gun registry scuttled his re-election bid in 1997. When he unsuccessfully took on Wayne in the 2000 election, he was seen as the candidate most favoured by the local Irving business empire, partly due to his marriage to Judith Irving-Zed. That marriage has since ended, though.
Adding to the complexity of the situation, Wallace has frequently worked for the Irvings in the past, but no longer does. So if there really is an anti-Irving vote in Saint John, which the ultra-populist Wayne was able to harness, there’s no telling which way it will break on Jan. 23.
The Martin Liberals continue to be popular in New Brunswick, despite Premier Bernard Lord’s public endorsement of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Last time out, Zed convinced just enough Tory voters that having an MP in government would pay off for the province’s largest city, in terms of harbour cleanup money, infrastructure investment and other plums. The question now: Has he delivered enough to be sent back to Ottawa again?
Newfoundland and Labrador
Avalon: The most interesting race in Newfoundland and Labrador: Liberal newcomer Bill Morrow replaces outgoing MP John Efford to take on Conservative candidate Fabian Manning.
Sandwiched between the Tory townies of St. John's and the lifelong Liberals in the rest of the province, the riding of Avalon has emerged as the most interesting race in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In the last election, it was a foregone conclusion the Liberals would win Avalon. Created in redistribution before the 2004 election, the riding consists largely of the former Liberal stronghold of Bonavista-Trinity-Conception.
However, the key ingredient in that race was John Efford, then the federal natural resources minister and one of the most popular politicians in Newfoundland and Labrador. Efford cruised to an easy victory, with 58 per cent of the vote.
In the 2006 election, everything has changed. Efford's reputation was scorched during the Atlantic Accord controversy, and while he retired for health reasons, his troubles may be dead weight for Liberal candidate Bill Morrow, a prominent lawyer.
The Conservative candidate this year is Fabian Manning, a 12-year veteran of the provincial legislature. A maverick, Manning was kicked out of the provincial Progressive Conservative caucus, but has nonetheless enlisted the help of former colleagues in the campaign.
A primarily rural riding, Avalon covers most of the Avalon Peninsula, with the exception of two St. John's-area ridings, which traditionally have voted Tory. Avalon now also includes some of the traditionally Conservative voters in the former riding of St. John's West.
The Northwest Territories has the country's hottest economy. It may also have one of the most exciting races this election, with two perennial foes squaring off for a third time.
Liberal MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew took the vast riding of Western Arctic by just 53 votes in the June 2004 election, the closest result in the country. The five-time winner and junior cabinet minister, however, is facing Dennis Bevington yet again, and he can taste victory this time.
The NDP candidate, the former mayor of Fort Smith, is ready to make the most of the cold weather and the long campaign.
"Traditionally we've had a lot less money than the Liberals in this riding in running a campaign," says Bevington. "And a long campaign means we can get out more and get into communities by vehicle, so we'll be able to get more places for less cost."
Bevington won most of the territory's largest communities, including Yellowknife, Hay River and Fort Smith, while Blondin-Andrew held most of the mostly aboriginal, smaller communities.
"I think the election last time, we were very much a long shot," says Bevington. "And I think people now know we have a great chance of winning this riding, and that is one of the key elements in this election."
Blondin-Andrew won by more than 4,500 votes in 1997 and 2,400 in 2000. She recognizes she can't take the riding this time out without Yellowknife, which has 46 per cent of the population.
"… We're going to make a concerted effort to make sure Yellowknife gets full access, that they're part of the campaign," says Blondin-Andrew. "… we will be there at all the events; we will go door to door."
Economic development is hardly the issue in the territory. Between the two existing diamond mines, more on the books, the gas pipeline, and mineral, oil and gas exploration, the economy is red hot.
But just how the territory is supposed to control this development and benefit from it through royalties is very much an issue. Devolution, the handover of control of resources and revenues to the territorial government, has been under negotiation for more than a year.
"We understand the future is bright if we do the right things," says Bevington. "And if we don't, we'll suffer the consequences."
Relations with First Nations governments over development will also be an issue. In the Dehcho region along the pipeline route, for instance, the grand chief has vowed there will be no project without a self-government agreement with Ottawa. There's little prospect for a quick settlement.
Still, "what we've been able to do, what we've been able to put forward to northerners in the last 17 months, has been phenomenal," says Blondin-Andrew. "… and we've picked up the gauntlet on other issues, whatever outstanding claims there are, what outstanding issues there are, we've continued to work on these."
Rick Edjericon hopes the Conservatives, who have a hard time fielding candidates in this riding, can be a factor in this election.
"You look at the numbers Sean [Mandeville] brought in last time, I think this time around we can do quite well for sure," says the former chief of Dettah, near Yellowknife, who won the Conservative nomination in the spring.
Edjericon says Liberal spending announcements have given him plenty of ammunition.
"It's their Christmas, they're coming up North with their big bag of goodies and throughout Canada," he says. "Since Gomery, I think they lost a lot of confidence and trust of the people and we need to restore that here through the Conservative party in the Northwest Territories."
The other potential spoiler is the Green party, which polled almost 600 votes last time. But so far the party has had trouble finding a candidate.
In 2004, Scott Brison proved that voters in Kings-Hants were willing to follow him across a political divide.
The former Progressive Conservative MP, who crossed the floor in December 2003, had only been in Paul Martin's cabinet for a matter of weeks when the June 2004 election was called. Brison overcame accusations of being a turncoat fairly easily, winning 46 per cent of the vote. (One of the few openly gay politicians in Canada, Brison appears to have defied skeptics who figured his rural constituents would turn on him on that issue, too.)
In 2006, Brison is facing a rematch with his chief rival from the last election, Conservative candidate Bob Mullan. Mullan will have his work cut out for him to disconnect traditional Tory support from Brison, one of the highest profile ministers in the Martin cabinet.
Best known for the farms of the Annapolis Valley, Kings-Hants includes Canadian Forces Base Greenwood, the campus of Acadia University and suburban workers who commute to Halifax.
First elected in 1993, incumbent Liberal MP Maria Minna is seeking her fifth consecutive term in this riding just east of downtown Toronto. In 1999, Minna was appointed minister for international co-operation by then-prime minister Jean Chrétien, but was dropped from the portfolio in 2002 following allegations that she had voted illegally in a municipal byelection. The federal ethics counsellor later cleared Minna of any wrongdoing, but she remained on the backbenches when Paul Martin succeeded Chrétien.
In the current race, Minna faces off against Marilyn Churley, a high-profile MPP who has represented the neighbouring Toronto-Danforth riding in the Ontario legislature for the past 15 years. Despite its affluence (the Beaches neighbourhood boasts some of the highest house prices in the country), the riding has a long history of support for New Democrats. It is currently represented at Queen's Park by an NDP MPP, former East York mayor Michael Prue.
The wildcard in the race is Green party Leader Jim Harris. While his campaign could pick up support from disillusioned voters of all political stripes, the Greens' environmentally focused platform seems most likely to appeal to traditional NDP supporters. In the 2004 campaign, the Greens received more than 2,000 votes here; although Minna beat her nearest challenger, NDP candidate Peter Tabuns, by more than 7,000 votes, the race is expected to be much tighter with the veteran campaigner Churley in the mix.
This southwestern Ontario riding features a rematch between Conservative MP Gary Goodyear and Janko Peric, the former Liberal incumbent who was defeated by Goodyear by a tiny margin in 2004.
Peric won the riding for the Liberals in 1993, 1997 and 2000 before falling to Goodyear in the last election. It's worth noting, however, that his vote total was close to or lower than the combined total of his Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance/Reform challengers in each of Peric's three victories. Running unopposed on the right in 2004 for the newly formed Conservative party, Goodyear drew 19,123 votes to Peric's 18,889, toppling the incumbent by a mere 234 votes.
Such a close result suggests that the Liberals will aggressively court New Democratic Party supporters in this race. In 2004, the NDP candidate drew a more than respectable 10,392 votes. Had little more than two per cent of those voters cast their ballots strategically, going with the Liberal candidate to block a Conservative victory, then Peric would be fighting his fourth consecutive campaign as the sitting MP.
In another southwestern Ontario squeaker for the Liberals, incumbent MP Jerry Pickar fought off a Conservative challenge by just 407 votes in 2004. After holding the seat since 1988, Pickard has bowed out for this race. However, the man who nearly beat him, Dave Van Kesteren, is running again under the Tory banner.
As in nearby Cambridge, the New Democratic Party candidate made a respectable showing for an also-ran in 2004, earning 7,538 ballots to Pickard's winning 17,435.
But it remains to be seen if many NDP supporters were spooked by how close the Conservatives came to capturing the riding in 2004. Some of them may consider strategic voting this time, reasoning that every ballot cast for Liberal candidate Jim Comiskey is one more ballot that will count against Van Kesteren.
Essex: Former cabinet minister tries to regain family seat
Before the 2004 election, representing this corner of southwestern Ontario for the Liberals had been the family business of MPs Eugene Whelan (1962-84) and his daughter Susan (1993-2004) all but nine of the previous 42 years. The seat, which went to the New Democrats following Eugene Whelan's retirement in 1984, was captured by Susan in 1993. Although she was re-elected in 1997 and 2000, her Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance opponents collectively received more votes that Susan did. Under the banner of the united Conservative party, Jeff Watson toppled Whelan in the 2004 election by just 829 votes.
As with other southwestern Ontario ridings, the intentions of NDP supporters could play a key role in the outcome. The NDP held the riding for the two terms immediately following Eugene Whelan's retirement, and the party held its own in the 2004 election with a respectable 24 per cent of votes cast. Although the 2004 results suggest a deep three-way rift within the riding, a shift of a few hundred votes from the NDP to the Liberals could see Susan Whelan resume her career as a member of Parliament.
This riding is being contested for the Liberals by Michael Ignatieff, an internationally known journalist and Harvard professor. Ignatieff's candidacy got off to a bumpy start when the incumbent Liberal MP, Jean Augustine, stepped aside so that the party could provide a safe Toronto riding for the star candidate. Ignatieff, who has also been touted as a possible successor to Paul Martin as Liberal leader, won the party's nomination by acclamation just a few days later, but he was bruised by allegations from riding association members that other candidates had been disqualified on technicalities. Ignatieff was also forced to address allegations that one of his books reveals a bias against Ukrainians, an ethnic group that makes up a significant number of voters in the riding. Despite that rocky start, the Liberals wouldn't have identified Etobicoke-Lakeshore as a safe home for a star candidate if they didn't have a strong track in the riding: aside from the Conservative sweeps of 1984 and 1988, the Liberals have won every election here since 1974. Ignatieff will face off against Conservative candidate John Capobianco, who was outpolled by Augustine by a 5-3 margin in the last race.
In 2004, Rose-Marie Ur won her fourth consecutive victory as the Liberal candidate in this southwestern Ontario riding. However, that last one was a squeaker: Ur beat her Conservative opponent, Bev Shipley, by just 164 votes. Shipley is back for the Conservatives in 2006, facing off against newcomer Jeff Wesley for the Liberals. As with a number of other ridings in the southwestern corner of the province, a swing of New Democratic supporters could help push the Liberal candidate to victory. However, it remains to be seen whether Wesley can muster the same level of support as Ur, who had three wins under her belt heading into the 2004 campaign.
MP Pat O'Brien had four consecutive election victories as a Liberal before quitting the party in June 2005 over its support of same-sex marriage. During his final campaign as a Liberal in 2004, O'Brien made it clear that he opposed same-sex marriage, which may have neutralized it as a campaign issue. It now remains to be seen whether the Conservatives, who came in third in 2004 (with 26 per cent of the votes to the Liberals' 38 and the New Democrats' 30), can recapture a riding that has flip-flopped between Liberal and Tory representatives since the 1970s.
Millionaire businesswoman Belinda Stronach won this riding for the Conservatives in the 2004 campaign, defeating her Liberal opponent by just 869 votes. But less than a year later, the onetime party leadership contender stunned the Conservatives by crossing the floor in Parliament to help prop up the minority Liberal government. Stronach's reward from Prime Minister Paul Martin was a seat at the cabinet table as minister of human resources. Her punishment could come at the hands of Conservative voters in the riding, who feel betrayed by their turncoat MP, and Liberal party supporters who perceive Stronach as a political opportunist.
Oshawa: Tories and NDP battle for blue-collar votes
This riding just east of Toronto featured a tight three-way race that the Conservatives won by just 463 votes. Oshawa was the home riding of former New Democrat leader Ed Broadbent, who represented the area from 1968 until 1990. Following Broadbent's resignation, the NDP won the riding in a byelection before losing three consecutive races to the Liberals in 1993, 1997 and 2000.
Conservative Colin Carrie won the riding in 2004 in a nail-biter of a race that saw Carrie, NDP candidate Sid Ryan and Liberal Louise V. Parkes each claim more than 30 per cent of the popular vote.
Ryan, who has been Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees since 1992, is back in the race in 2006. He will be looking for support from unionized workers at General Motors, which recently announced plans to eliminate more than half its 6,000 jobs in the city by 2008.
With two single-term exceptions (in 1978 and 1984), Ottawa Centre was a Liberal stronghold from 1968 until 2004, when former New Democratic Party leader Ed Broadbent came out of retirement to win the riding. The Broadbent wave swept away Liberal candidate Richard Mahoney, a former party president and assistant to Prime Minister Paul Martin. Early in 2005, Broadbent announced that he would not seek re-election, preferring instead to spend more time with his ailing wife. But Mahoney is back in the 2006 race. This time, his NDP opponent will be Paul Dewar, the son of former Ottawa mayor Marion Dewar.
Ottawa South: Premier's brother faces off against Gomery whistleblower
In seeking re-election, freshman Liberal MP David McGuinty's biggest political liability appears to be his brother: Premier Dalton McGuinty has been vilified by many Ontario voters for breaking a number of high-profile promises made during the 2003 campaign that brought the Liberals to power in Ontario.
However, the Tories ran into a political chainsaw of their own in the selection of their star candidate for the riding. They chose Allan Cutler, the former civil servant credited with blowing the whistle on the Quebec sponsorship scandal. Shortly after Cutler's nomination, however, another would-be Tory candidate alleged that he had been offered money from the Conservatives to withdraw from the race. The Conservatives denied the allegation, but the result was that both McGuinty and Cutler will fight the campaign carrying political baggage.
Conservative candidate John Baird makes the leap from provincial politics to the national stage as he attempts to replace retiring Liberal incumbent Marlene Catterall in Ottawa West-Nepean. A Tory MPP for 10 years, Baird enjoyed a high profile as the province's energy minister, and minister of community and social services. He faces off against Liberal Lee Farnworth, a former Nepean city councillor, and New Democrat Marlene Rivier.
The bad news for Conservative candidate Tony Clement is his own track record. After two successful runs for the Ontario legislature, the former Brampton MPP lost his seat in 2003 and was defeated again when he ran federally in 2004; he was also defeated in leadership runs for both the federal and provincial Conservative parties. With the buzzards circling, Clement has moved to a riding some 200 kilometres north of his home for a last stand in electoral politics.
Now the good news. Parry Sound-Muskoka has a long tradition of sending Conservatives to the House of Commons. Since 1958, the riding has been represented by just three members, and two of them -- Gordon Aitkin (1957-72) and Stan Darling (1972-1993) -- were Tories. Furthermore, while incumbent Liberal Andy Mitchell has won four times since 1993, he's taken two of those races with fewer votes than the combined total for the Conservative and Reform/Alliance candidates. Finally, voters here were fans of Clements's old boss, former premier Mike Harris, and they might just open their hearts to one of the loyal foot soldiers of Harris's Common Sense Revolution.
St. Paul's: Journalist squares off against popular incumbent
This downtown Toronto riding has a history of alternating between Liberals and Conservatives, which must be encouraging to Tory challenger Peter Kent. The journalist and broadcaster is facing off against Liberal incumbent Carolyn Bennett, a three-term MP whose party has held the riding since 1993. Bennett won the seat in 2004 by more than 20,000 votes over a relatively unknown Conservative candidate. This time, however, her Tory opponent is a former television news anchor with tremendous name recognition. Given the riding's pattern of flipping between Tories and Liberals -- St. Paul's sent Conservative Barbara McDougall to Ottawa for two terms in the Mulroney years -- Bennett could be in for a tough fight.
Simcoe-Grey: NDP swing vote could send Liberal back to Ottawa
Conservative Helena Guergis won a nail-biter here in 2004, toppling Liberal incumbent Paul Bonwick by just 100 votes. Bonwick won the riding in 1997 and 2000, but received fewer votes than the combined totals of his Conservative and Reform/Alliance opponents in both races. (The riding was created for the 1997 election from parts of six central Ontario ridings, including Simcoe Centre, which had elected Ontario's first Reform party member of Parliament just four years earlier.) Watch for the Liberals to aggressively court New Democratic Party supporters here: in 2004, Bonwick would have held onto the seat if fewer than two per cent of the NDP candidate's supporters had thrown their votes to him in order to block a Conservative victory.
New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton passed on safer NDP ridings to run here in 2004, and then beat four-term Liberal incumbent Dennis Mills by almost 2,400 votes. This time around, he will face off against Deborah Coyne, a lawyer and constitutional expert who's probably best known (if she's recognized at all) as the mother of Pierre Trudeau's only daughter. Coyne can expect considerable support from the traditional Liberal voters in this downtown riding, which is home to Toronto's Greektown and a large immigrant population. She's also vowed to campaign on local issues, saying that Layton spends too much time jetting around the country and not enough dealing with his constituents' concerns. However, Layton is a savvy and tenacious campaigner with deep roots in the community (he was a six-term city councillor before becoming NDP leader) and considerable support in the riding.
Arguably the most hotly contested race of the campaign, the battle for this downtown Toronto riding pits four-term Liberal incumbent Tony Ianno against New Democratic Party challenger Olivia Chow.
Three factors make this one to watch:
This is the third time that Ianno and Chow have slugged it out for the riding. Chow, a long-serving city councillor, ran unsuccessfully in 1997 and 2004.
In the 2004 race, Ianno's margin of victory was just 805 ballots, with Ianno and Chow each getting more than 20,000 votes.
Chow is married to NDP Leader Jack Layton.
There was speculation following the 2004 race that Chow lost because she spent too much time campaigning for Layton, both across the country and in his neighbouring riding. With Layton securely installed and his party's fortunes rising, watch for Chow to focus intensely on closing the gap with Ianno.
Conservative Jim Flaherty is expected to mount a strong challenge to Liberal incumbent Judi Longfield in this bedroom-community riding just east of Toronto. Flaherty has represented the area for the Tories in the Ontario legislature since 1995, and emerged as one of the most vocal social conservatives in then-premier Mike Harris's Common Sense Revolution. Flaherty served as attorney general and finance minister under Harris, but has failed twice to win the leadership of Ontario's Conservatives. A lawyer by training, Flaherty has been touted as a possible successor to federal Conservative Leader Stephen Harper. He won his last provincial race in the riding by more than 4,600 votes.
Longfield, a former Whitby town councillor, is seeking her fourth term as a Liberal member of Parliament. In 2004, she soundly beat her Conservative opponent by more than 5,000 votes.
A three-way race is emerging in the small business heartland of Quebec.
The Conservatives have a real shot here at making a breakthrough in the province where they currently hold no seats. People here take their elections seriously. Les Beaucerons are an independent-minded people who prefer to vote for the candidate rather than for the party. In 2004, Liberal candidate Claude Drouin won the riding with 41 per cent of the vote. Jean-François Barbe, running for the Bloc Québécois, came in second with 35 per cent of the vote and the Conservatives had 17 per cent. A year and a half later, the riding is up for grabs. The Liberals have their hopes set on Jacques Lussier, the mayor of Sainte-Clotilde and former dean of the administration department at l'Université Laval. He'll face off with Patrice Moore, a popular radio host running for the Bloc Québécois. But all eyes are on the Conservative candidate, Maxime Bernier, who worked at the Montreal Economic Institute. He's the son of the "King of the Beauce," the popular former Progressive Conservative two-time MP, Gilles Bernier. Bernier later represented les Beaucerons as an Independent. The Action démocratique du Québec MNA representing Beauce-Nord has thrown his support behind Bernier, saying a vote for the Liberals would only help elect a Bloc MP. Cléo Chartier is running for the NDP. The Green party is represented by Jean-Claude Roy, a forestry expert.
A tight two-way race is shaping up in this Eastern Township riding.
Four-time Liberal MP and former minister Denis Paradis won last time with just over 1,000 votes. His main opponent again is architect Christian Ouellet who is running for the Bloc Québécois. In December, Ouellet embarrassed his leader, Gilles Duceppe, by saying he didn't have time to talk about the separation of Quebec during the campaign because there were a lot of other important issues on the table. Duceppe shrugged it off as a lack of political experience. He repeated the Bloc's goal was to promote the separation of Quebec. Brome-Missisquoi is the lone Liberal riding in the Eastern Townships. David Marler, a prominent lawyer, is running for the Conservative party. But he'll have to face off with Heward Grafftey representing the Progressive Canadian party. Grafftey was the former Progressive Conservative science minister. Josianne Jetté is carrying the NDP flag. Michel Champagne will run for the Green party. Border security is an issue in this riding, which straddles the American border.
After winning by more than 10,000 votes in 2000, his majority was reduced to 2,559 votes in last year's June election. Saada is minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. The Bloc Québécois candidate, Marcel Lussier, was successful in linking the federal Liberals to the sponsorship scandal last year. He's using the same recipe this time around, reminding voters this is their chance to punish the Liberals. Robert Nicolas has switched parties. Formerly with the Conservatives, he's now running for the NDP. "I was a little embarrassed with Harper as the leader," a Montreal paper quoted him as saying. "This time, I'm with the right party."
The Conservatives are banking on the head of the Canada-Tibet Committee, Tenzin Khangsar, who organized the recent visit of the Dalai Lama. The Green party's representative is François Desgroseilliers.
André Harvey, the Liberal MP defeated in 2004, wants to make a comeback in this riding.
He lost by 863 votes to the Bloc's Robert Bouchard. Before becoming an Independent MP, he sat in the House of Commons in Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative government. This riding is too close to call. Bouchard is going out of his way to attack Harvey's record as an MP and the Liberals' questionable election practices. Bouchard was seen campaigning with Bloc heavyweight Yvan Loubier. Alcide Boudreault, a financial consultant and former candidate for the Canadian Alliance, is running for the Conservative party. The NDP is counting on Éric Dubois, a popular community organizer. Jean-Marc Gauthier is the Green party's choice. The survival of the Bagotville base and the health of the local economy are on the minds of voters.
Gatineau was considered one of the safest Liberal seats in the country.
But that may be about to change. The Liberals' challenger is two-time Bloc Québécois contender Richard Nadeau, a teacher. Françoise Boivin, the Liberal candidate, was elected with a majority of 830 votes. A Bloc gain in this riding across Parliament Hill on the Quebec side of the Outaouais River would be a symbolic victory.
Canadian Heritage minister Liza Frulla is fighting for her political survival.
Her razor-thin win of 72 votes in the June 2004 election has the Liberals scrambling. Frulla has been given a reprieve from the national campaign to concentrate on her riding. "This is a very personal campaign," she told a Quebec daily. "I'm happy that I don't have to campaign elsewhere as a minister. It's a great gift." Her Bloc Québécois opponent, Thierry St-Cyr, is running for the second time. He says Frulla has neglected her riding. He caused quite a stir in Liberal ranks in 2004 by shrinking the Liberal majority of 10,000 votes to 72. And he hopes to put the nail in the coffin by bringing up the sponsorship scandal every chance he gets. Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe angered Frulla by reminding voters that a few prominent advertising heads linked to the sponsorship scandal had made contributions to Frulla's campaign in 2002. St-Cyr, 28, an engineering student, works at Motorola. He's optimistic the riding can be taken because of the large influx of young professionals. Matthew McLaughlin, a translator, is representing the NDP, which came in third in 2004. A young accountant, Pierre-Olivier Brunelle, wants to win the seat for the Conservative party.
Liberal candidate and former minister, Hélène Chalifour-Scherrer, wants a rematch.
She's campaigning hard to win back her former riding. But it's an uphill battle. Roger Clavet, a former journalist and newcomer to politics, took the riding with a 5,000-vote majority. Scherrer, an aide to Prime Minister Paul Martin in Ottawa, took swings at Clavet, criticizing his absence from critical debates. "I don't think the voters of Louis-Hébert have seen his photo anywhere other than on his campaign signs." Clavet pounced on her recent controversial remarks. Scherrer qualified the province of Quebec as a poor province dependent on Canadian federalism. The Conservatives are represented by Luc Harvey, the Green party by Robert Hudon and the New Democratic Party by Denis Blanchette.
The Conservatives could make a symbolic gain in the riding. Josée Verner, an aide to Stephen Harper in Ottawa, finished second in last year's election, winning 13,967 votes, a mere 3,200 behind the Bloc Québécois. The party has put a team behind her to bolster her chances of winning. The Bloc's candidate, Bernard Cleary, a Canadian native, was contested by his former political advisor, Robert Miller, who questioned his integrity. Cleary admits he's facing stiff opposition from Verner. The Liberals cannot be discounted, as well. They have recruited Isa Gros-Louis, daughter of Huron Chief Max Gros-Louis of the Wendake reserve. Isa Gros-Louis got off to a late start because she had to get clearance from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in Ottawa where she works. The Conservatives' promise to beef up the military is music to the ears of military families in the riding.
Jean Lapierre's riding will be a squeaker.
Both the Bloc Québécois and the NDP have put heavyweights in Outremont to defeat the minister of transport and Paul Martin's lieutenant in Quebec. The Bloc got 33 per cent of the votes in 2004 and increased that score to 37.2 per cent in a byelection. Jacques Léonard, a former Parti Québécois minister, is their candidate. Léo-Paul Lauzon, a professeur of accounting at l'Université du Québec à Montréal is the NDP's choice. The splitting of votes could favor Lapierre who is determined not to go down without a fight. The NDP had 14 per cent of the vote in 2004. The Conservatives are putting their faith in businessman Daniel Fournier. The Green party is represented by François Pilon. Four Independents also have thrown their hats in the ring.
Pierre Pettigrew, minister of foreign affairs, is on the hustings trying to solidify his support, which evaporated in the last election.
He won Papineau by only 468 votes. This is one place where the Bloc can make gains. Pettigrew's recent musings about Parti Québécois hopefuls as "losers" sparked quite a controversy in Quebec. And the Bloc Québécois is capitalizing on Pettigrew's remarks. The Bloc has recruited the former head of the Quebec Federation of Women, Vivian Barbot. She has ties to ethnocultural communities where the Bloc is hoping to make inroads. Mustaque A. Salker is taking the plunge for a second time for the Conservative party. Marc Hasbani will defend the New Democratic Party and Louis-Philippe Veranka will run for the Greens.
Pontiac is on the radar for the Conservative Party of Canada.
A three-way race is shaping up in this federalist Quebec riding. Lawrence Cannon, an aide to Stephen Harper in Ottawa, is hoping he'll be the first to the finish line. The riding has a sizeable anglophone population. Cannon was a municipal councillor for the city of Gatineau and a minister in Premier Robert Bourassa's cabinet. In June 2004, the Conservatives finished third with 22 per cent of the vote. Cannon was criticized for putting up his signs only in English, which could cost him the francophone vote. The outgoing Liberal MP, David Smith, has been cleared of conflict of interest allegations by Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro, but the lingering doubts may hurt his chances of winning. Christine Émond Lapointe, the head of the Commission scolaire des Draveurs, wants to win the seat for the Bloc Québécois. The NDP is represented by Céline Brault, a teacher.
Paul Martin's Liberals have recruited former astronaut Marc Garneau as their star candidate.
The Bloc Québécois's hopeful is Meili Faille, the incumbent. The Liberals are determined to win back this traditional federalist riding, which they lost by more than 3,000 votes during the last election. Garneau's inexperience in politics put him in hot water. He was ridiculed in January when he said he was convinced sovereigntist leaders would become federalists if they travelled into space. Bert Markgraf, an engineer, is the NDP's choice. Pierre Pariseau-Legault will represent the Green party. The Conservatives arrived late in the game and are represented by Stéphane Bourgon.
Regina-Qu'Appelle is one of those Groundhog Day ridings. That is, as in the Bill Murray movie, the campaign features familiar people doing the same things and meeting the same people – with some desperately trying for a different result.
All of the 2004 candidates for the three top-polling parties are back, including Andrew Scheer for the Conservatives, Lorne Nystrom for the NDP and Allyce Herle for the Liberals.
Representing the Green party is University of British Columbia graduate student Brent Dolter.
They'll be battling for votes in the northeast corner of Regina, as well as in towns like Southey, Wynyard and Qu'Appelle, and a dozen First Nation reserves.
Nystrom was considered the favourite going into the 2004 campaign. But Scheer, who had been a waiter, insurance agent and MP's assistant before making a run for elected office, beat him by 861 votes.
The Liberals’ Herle, a mental health therapist who has worked for a number of First Nations in the riding, was a strong third last time and is looking to build on that.
The NDP said a last-minute surge of Liberal support did them in a year ago. In this election, they've been telling people that voting Liberal helps elect Conservatives.
Phillip Hansen, who teaches political philosophy at the University of Regina, thinks it will come down to the NDP and the Conservatives once again. At first blush, Nystrom, a 30-year veteran of Parliament, seems a little "tired" while Scheer will benefit from the power of incumbency, he said.
The campaign is in its early days, but the Conservatives would seem to have the edge at this point, he said.
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