Ottawa

Lobby groups encourage strategic voting in Ottawa West-Nepean, Orleans

As candidates in the federal election begin their door-knocking campaigns in earnest, voters are being asked to think about how to cast their ballot more strategically, particularly in two Ottawa-area Conservative ridings.

Leadnow, Vote Smart Orleans 2015, Ecology Ottawa targeting voters in swing ridings

Strategic voting pushed in 2 Ottawa ridings

7 years ago
Duration 4:37
Lobby groups urge voters in Ottawa West-Nepean and Ottawa-Orleans to plan.

As candidates in the federal election begin their door-knocking campaigns in earnest, voters are being asked to think about how to cast their ballot more strategically, particularly in two Ottawa-area Conservative ridings.

Éric Grenier, CBC's poll analyst, is projecting a change in the Conservative ridings of Ottawa West-Nepean and Orleans. (CBC News)
Ottawa West-Nepean and Orleans are projected to change, according to CBC poll analyst Eric Grenier.

"These are ridings that the Conservatives won in 2011 with less than 50 per cent of the vote," said Grenier, who also runs the polling analysis website threehundredeight.com. 

Ottawa West-Nepean was held by John Baird, a Conservative minister, since 2006, but he left politics earlier this year.

Royal Galipeau has held the Orleans riding for the Conservatives since 2006 and is running again to keep his seat.

But the Conservatives are at risk of losing both those seats, Grenier said.

"What we've seen in Ontario since the campaign began, we've seen the Conservatives down quite a bit from 2011 and the Liberals up," said Grenier.

Some groups targeting these ridings

Both ridings have been identified by a grassroots organization called Leadnow as ripe for an anti-Conservative campaign. 

It's website "VoteTogether" states: "We have identified 72 Conservative swing ridings where voters who want change can vote together to ensure that Prime Minister Harper will be defeated."

Leadnow is working with local organizations in the two ridings to commission polls to help voters decide which candidate is the mostly likely to defeat the Conservative candidate.

Roger Clarke, part of a group called Vote Smart Orleans 2015, is going door to door to encourage people to vote tactically this election. He said he doesn't want the opposition to split the vote.

"So what we're saying is, this time, which candidate looks as though he or she might win in October 2015," he said.

Volunteers with the group Ecology Ottawa are also canvassing to ask voters to consider which candidate would defend environmental issues. 

"I think any reasonable analysis of the parties and their platforms would conclude any of the opposition parties are far more serious about taking on issues of the environment than this government is," said Graham Saul, president of Ecology Ottawa.

Ottawa West-Nepean candidates vying for the seat

Since the riding of Ottawa West-Nepean doesn't have an incumbent, it is even more attractive to strategic voters, Grenier said.

Anita Vandenbeld is the Liberal party candidate in the riding of Ottawa West-Nepean. (CBC News)
The Liberal candidate in the riding, Anita Vandenbeld, said she always tells constituents to vote with their conscience. 

But she's hoping the riding's long Liberal history before 2006 and her second-place finish in the 2011 election will appeal to strategic voters. 

However, New Democratic Party candidate Marlene Rivier said strategic voters should keep in mind that the NDP are on the rise across the country. 

"What you see is a downturn in the Liberal vote; they're trending down in Ottawa West-Nepean," referring to a four-per-cent drop between 2008 and 2011 from 36-per-cent to 38-per-cent support for the Liberal candidate. 

The NDP vote went up eight points between the same two elections from 11 per cent to 19 per cent.

Abdul Abdi is the Conservative party candidate in Ottawa West-Nepean. (CBC News)
"So we see excitement for what's happening nationally and it's rolling into this riding," said Rivier.

The Conservative candidate, Abdul Abdi, said he's not wasting time thinking about the forces working against him. 

"I'm not paying attention because we are going to the doors, and the voters are waiting for Abdi to knock on the door," he said. 

Right now, Graham Saul said it's too early to call which party is in the lead in Ottawa West-Nepean. 

Ecology Ottawa will be raising money to help commission a poll with VoteTogether in the riding, he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amanda Pfeffer has worked for the CBC across the country, including Montreal, Vancouver, Fredericton, Quebec City and Ottawa. She welcomes story ideas and tips at amanda.pfeffer@cbc.ca, or twitter @onthebeat1.

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