This urban Ottawa riding contains much of the city's downtown area,
including Parliament Hill.
The riding runs from the Ottawa River in the north to the Rideau River
in the south. In the west, it stretches from Shelbourne Road, Maitland
Avenue and Merivale Road to Nicholas Street in the east.
It includes residential areas such as Westboro, Highland Park, Westboro
Beach and Hampton-Iona. This ethnically diverse area also boasts the
third highest rate of university-educated people in the province, with
30 per cent of the residents possessing degrees.
Ten per cent of the population lists French as their mother language,
and there are also significant Italian, Chinese and Vietnamese communities.
As a result of the 1999 redistribution, the riding folded one-quarter
of Ottawa West and small parts of Ottawa South, Ottawa-Rideau, Ottawa
East into to all of the old Ottawa Centre.
In Ottawa Centre, the NDP's Mike Cassidy won in 1971, 1975, 1977 and
1981. Cassidy was leader of the Ontario NDP from 1978 to 1982, and resigned
to run federally in the 1984 election.
Cassidy was followed by the NDP's Evelyn Gigantes, who won in a byelection
and the general election of 1985. In 1987, Gigantes lost the seat to
Liberal Richard Patten, but defeated him in a 1990 rematch. Patten returned
the favour in 1995, when he beat Gigantes a second time.