Races to watch: The Prairies and North
Here are the ridings to watch on the Prairies and in the North on Oct. 14:
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Election map 2006: Check out how Canada voted. Click here to return to this Churchill, Manitoba, riding.
Manitoba's northern seat was won by Liberal Tina Keeper in 2006, on the strength of the actor's name recognition and with the help of a split in the incumbent NDP vote, when former MP Bev Desjarlais was kicked out of the NDP caucus and ran again as an Independent instead. NDP candidate Niki Ashton is back for a second run at this seat, and has been knocking on doors here for months.
Liberal incumbent Raymond Simard will be tested by his Conservative opponent here: Winnipeg police spokesperson Shelly Glover. Justice issues are expected to feature prominently in this riding. Although traditionally seen as a francophone Liberal seat, the demographics and the party loyalties are thought to be shifting here, based on local polling.
Rod Bruinooge had the smallest margin of victory on the Prairies when he defeated former Liberal cabinet minister Reg Alcock here in 2006. Will his first run for re-election be a little easier?
Winnipeg South Centre
The Conservatives have recruited former CFL player Trevor Kennerd to run against Liberal incumbent Anita Neville in this riding. Will the appeal of a former professional athlete help defeat a longtime MP?
The Tories picked up this seat from the Liberals in last March's byelection. But the Liberal ranks were split with a divisive nomination process that saw Stephane Dion choose his own candidate over local objections. Now maverick politician David Orchard is running for the Liberal party. Will his team better that of sitting Conservative Rob Clarke?
Conservative MP Dave Batters elected not to run again after struggling with a health issue earlier this summer. The Liberal nomination process also sputtered out of the gates: their first candidate was nominated and then quit for professional reasons. Now a former Regina police chief, Cal Johnston, is running for the Liberals. Former Moose Jaw mayor Ray Boughen is running for the Conservatives, while another former Moose Jaw mayor Don Mitchell is running for the NDP.
Conservative cabinet minister Carol Skelton has elected not to run again, so this seat is vacant. New Conservative candidate Kelly Block will have her work cut out for her in this seat, which has a history of tilting left. Experienced NDP candidate and farm activist Nettie Wiebe is trying again to win the seat for the New Democrats.
Conservative Tom Lukiwski was embarrassed earlier this year by offensive remarks he made on a 16-year-old videotape. Did he lose any credibility with Regina voters? The NDP and Liberal result was similar here in 2006, but if an anti-Conservative strategic voting pattern emerges, Lukiwski could be vulnerable.
Ralph Goodale's seat is the only Liberal riding left in Saskatchewan. Although he typically wins here with comfortable margins, he's said to be more uncomfortable this year than he's ever been, as the Conservatives target his riding as their last and only possible pick-up in the province.
Close races are rare in Alberta, but here's the best we could find: Conservative National Caucus chair Rahim Jaffer had one of the smallest margins of victory in the 2006 election. His riding provincially was once held by Alberta NDP Leader Raj Pannu, and the federal NDP candidate Linda Duncan is both experienced and hungry — and well-supported by her national campaign, as witnessed by Jack Layton's early visit.
Liberal MP Nancy Karetak-Lindell has decided not to run again. While conventional wisdom suggests residual strength for the Liberals, or a traditional base for the NDP in a northern riding, the Conservatives' recent focus on Arctic sovereignty issues is believed to be giving them an edge in this riding now.
NDP MP Dennis Bevington beat well-known former Liberal cabinet minister Ethel Blondin-Andrew here in 2006, after coming very close in 2004. Now it's believed the Conservatives are the NDP's biggest competition, not the Liberals. The Conservative candidate, Brendan Bell, is a former territorial cabinet minister with a real base of support in the North.