Kitchener's downtown core is in the centre of this riding. The area
is known for the strength of its German heritage: in the 1996 census,
14 per cent listed German as their ethnic origin.
Kitchener Centre is bordered by Highland Road to Lawrence Avenue and
Victoria Street South in the north, to Conestoga Parkway and Block Line
Road and Grand River in the south. To the west, the riding begins at
the Kitchener city limits and stretches to a portion of Chicopee in
After the 1999 redistribution, the new Kitchener Centre was formed
out of the old Kitchener and Kitchener-Wilmot ridings.
In the old riding of Kitchener, Liberal Jim Breithaupt won five straight
elections, serving from 1967 to 1981. Liberal Jim Cooke won in 1985
and 1987, but was defeated by NDP candidate Will Ferguson in 1990.
Ferguson served in the Bob Rae cabinet until his resignation in 1992
amid accusations of sexual misconduct at a girls' reform school two
decades earlier. Acquitted of all charges, Ferguson resigned from the
NDP caucus in 1994 and ran an unsuccessful campaign to become mayor
In the old riding of Kitchener-Wilmont, Liberal John Sweeney held the
seat from 1975 to 1990. After serving in several cabinet posts, he was
defeated by NDP candidate Mike Cooper in 1990. Cooper was in turn defeated
by PC candidate Gary Leadston in 1995.