OTTAWA — The federal election is always a good time to gauge the mood of the country, especially in ridings that have flipped from one party to another.
Here are five ridings to watch on Oct. 21, including two Western Ontario ridings that have been battlegrounds for both the Conservatives and Liberals.
We included two rural Quebec ridings: The homes of People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier and Liberal Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau.
After the riding was created in 1997, it immediately went Liberal for nine years, until farmer and Conservative candidate Bev Shipley won in 2006. He easily held the riding through the next three elections (including taking more than 50 per cent of the vote in 2015, with 28,300 votes to the Liberal’s 16,529 votes), but isn’t running this year, leaving the door open for several candidates. Conservative Lianne Rood grew up on a 1,000-acre vegetable farm and started her career on Parliament Hill as Shipley’s assistant. Jesse McCormick, who was the Director of Policy and Indigenous Relations for Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna, is the Liberal candidate. The NDP had 17 per cent of the votes in 2015.
In 2015, seasoned Conservative incumbent Dave Van Kesteren won this new riding with 41.7 per cent of the votes and about 2,000 votes more than Liberal candidate and elementary school teacher Katie Omstead. After 12 years as MP, Van Kesteren won’t be running in this election but Omstead will be. The Conservative candidate is cash crop and vegetable grower David Epp, president of Lycoland Farms in Leamington. The NDP took 18.4 per cent of the vote in the 2015 election.
This was the closest riding in all of Canada in 2015. Rookie Conservative candidate Alex Nuttall won the riding with 21,091 votes to Liberal Brian Tamblyn’s 21,005, a difference of 86. Neither Nuttall nor Tamblyn is running this time around. Barrie city Coun. Doug Shipley is picking up the banner for the Conservatives, while dental surgeon Brian Kalliecharan will run for the Liberals. The NDP took 10.3 per cent of the vote in the 2015 election.
This rural Quebec riding east of Montreal is held by Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau, who has no farming background. Bibeau spent her working career with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and was posted to Morocco and Benin. She left CIDA to operate a camping business.
This rural Quebec riding south of Quebec City is the home riding of the People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier, who left the Conservative Party in a huff two years ago when party members (driven mainly by Quebec dairy farmers) elected Andrew Scheer as leader. Bernier lost the leadership bid because of his stand to dismantle supply management. Also running is a Rhinoceros party candidate whose name is, get this, Maxime Bernier. His slogan is: “Don’t take any chances – vote for both.”