This riding is located along the Niagara Peninsula and contains the
city of Welland, the town of Pelham and the southern part of St. Catharines.
This region is heavily industrialized and a large percentage of the
workforce is employed in steel, rubber, textile, automotive and other
types of manufacturing. There is also a significant Italian population.
As a result of the 1999 redistribution, Niagara Centre combined about
one quarter of the old Lincoln riding with 29 per cent of St. Catharines-Brock
and 96 per cent of Welland-Thorold.
In the former riding of Welland, Tory MPP Ellis Morningstar sat for
20 years, winning in 1951, 1955, 1959, 1963, 1967 and 1971. In 1975,
NDP candidate Mel Swart won the seat after losing campaigns in 1967
and 1971. Swart continued his winning streak in the riding of Welland-Thorold
in 1977, 1981, 1985 and 1987.
The NDP held the seat following Swart's resignation, with Peter Kormos
winning a 1988 byelection. Kormos, who has been re-elected in every
subsequent campaign, served briefly in the cabinet of Bob Rae; he was
removed from his ministerial post in 1991 after posing as a "Sunshine
Boy" for the Toronto <i>Sun</i> newspaper.
In the former riding of Lincoln, Liberal Ross Hall won in 1975 and
1977. Tory Phil Andrews won here in 1981 and 1985, before losing the
seat to Liberal Harry Pelissero in 1987. NDP candidate Ron Hansen won
in 1990, but the seat went back to the Tories when Frank Sheehan won