10 ridings the Liberals need to win to get out of 3rd place

Over the past week, the polls have been kind to the Liberal Party.

The seat projections? Not quite as much.

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苏州纹眉

As the federal election campaign passes the halfway point, the Conservatives, NDP, and Liberals are still deadlocked in a three-way race. And while multiple polls now show the Liberals inching ahead of the Conservatives into second place nationally, most experts seem to think it wouldn’t guarantee them the second highest amount of seats.

Analysis by the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy (LISPOP) projects the Liberals to win 103 seats, compared to 106 for the Conservatives and 128 for the NDP.

See the LISPOP map below: 

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Click to explore the latest seat projections in your riding

Conservative
Leaning Conservative
Liberal
Leaning Liberal
NDP
Leaning NDP
Bloc Québécois
Leaning Bloc Québécois
Too Close to Call
Independent

Note: “Leaning” indicates a 5% to 10% lead. “Too Close to Call” indicates a difference under 5%. Courtesy of Lispop苏州纹眉.

Over the last decade, the Liberals have lost support in suburban Ontario to the Conservatives, and support in Quebec and Toronto to the NDP. So while their vote is fairly evenly distributed across the country, there are few seats where they’re expected to win by a blowout.

So if the Liberals were to get out of third place this election, where would their wins be?

If you look at the polls, it wouldn’t come from seats in Quebec or rural Ontario that the party won in the Jean Chretien era.

Instead, it would come from dominating in Canada’s biggest cities—Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and others—which have become more valuable than ever after the addition of 30 new seats.

Here are 10 seats from coast to coast where a Liberal victory would likely be part of a bigger wave for the party.

1. Cumberland—Colchester

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Cumberland-Colchester

Elections Canada

2011 result (based on current boundaries): 3rd place, 18.4%
Current LISPOP projection: Too close to call

Outside of Cape Breton Island and Scott Brison’s riding of Kings-Hants, it’s been a while since the Liberals were competitive in rural Nova Scotia, but they have their eyes set on Cumberland—Colchester, where they finished a distant third in 2011 to CPC MP Scott Armstrong.

The biggest reason for their high hopes? Their candidate, the popular former MP Bill Casey. He served as a Progressive Conservative MP in this area from 1988 to 1993 and again from 1997 to 2003. He was re-elected as a Conservative MP in 2004 and 2006, left the party in 2007—but still won in the 2008 election as independent.

He retired in 2009, and is now attempting a political comeback as a Liberal.

If Casey wins here, it likely means the party swept most of Atlantic Canada, giving them a large buffer when election results come in from the rest of the country.

2. Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Dorval-Lachine-LaSalle

Elections Canada

2011 result (new seat, but based on results in polling stations within the boundaries): 2nd place, 29.4%
Current LISPOP projection: Leaning NDP

The Liberals were only able to win seven seats on the island of Montreal last election, their worst result in modern Canadian history. Getting out of third place means restoring their historical dominance here, especially on the west side of the island, and it comes from wins in ridings like Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle.

It’s in an area the Liberals had only lost once in the last 50 years prior to 2011. Neither their candidate, lawyer Anju Dhillon, or the NDP incumbent, Isabelle Morin, is particularly high-profile.

If the polls hold, the NDP are expected to hold onto a vast majority of their newly-gained seats in Quebec, but Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle is one the Liberals believe they can take.

3. Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Ville-Marie-Le Sud-Ouest-Île-des-Soeurs

Elections Canada

2011 result (based on current boundaries): 2nd place, 27.5%
Current LISPOP projection: NDP

Another Montreal riding in an area the Liberals have traditionally dominated, this new riding combines bits of Jeanne-Le Ber, Westmount—Ville-Marie, Laurier—Sainte-Marie and Outremont. There is no incumbent in this riding, which will likely come down to a battle of the lawyers—Allison Turner for the NDP, and Marc Miller for the Liberals.

4. Brampton Centre

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Brampton Centre

Elections Canada

2011 result (new seat, but based on results in polling stations within the boundaries): 2nd place, 25.4%
Current LISPOP projection: Too close to call

Between 1993 and 2008, the Liberals won every single seat contested in Brampton. In 2011, they lost all three seats.

Thanks to redistribution, Brampton now has five electoral districts, and the Liberals are optimistic they can win every one. Perhaps their biggest challenge will come in this new riding, where lawyer and immigration consultant Ramesh Sangha goes up against Conservative MP Bal Gosal.

Had this seat existed in the last election, the Conservatives would have taken it by 21 per cent more votes than the Liberals. Simply put, if the Liberals can pull off a victory here, it bodes well for their chances in the rest of Brampton, Mississauga, and scores of other ridings in the “905” belt.

5. Scarborough Southwest

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Scarborough Southwest

Elections Canada

2011 result (based on current boundaries): 3rd place, 29.3%
Current LISPOP projection: Too close to call

Another GTA riding expected to be a close three-way race on election night.

Similar to Brampton, the Liberals won every single seat in Scarborough from 1993 to 2008, but came away with just two of five in the 2011 election.

They’re hoping for a sweep of the now-six ridings on election day, and perhaps the most hotly-contested of them is Southwest Scarborough.

The biggest wild card? Whether former Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair—perhaps the Liberals’ highest profile new candidate in Ontario this election—helps or hurts the party in this diverse, working-class riding.

But much like a win in Brampton Centre over Gosal will mean a very good night for the Liberals throughout Brampton and Mississauga, a win in Scarborough Southwest over Harris will mean a good night in Scarborough.

6. Toronto Centre

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Toronto Centre

Elections Canada

2011 result (based on current boundaries): 1st place, 39.4%
Current LISPOP projection: Too close to call

Both the NDP and Liberals will put considerable expenses into taking this prominent riding.

The southern half of Toronto has slowly moved from a Liberal to NDP stronghold in the last decade, but the Liberal party retains considerable strength in the area.

In Toronto Centre, they’re running Bill Morneau, a former chairman of the C.D. Howe Institute. The NDP are countering with Linda McQuaig, a high-profile author and journalist who lost here to Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland in a 2013 byelection.

However, the riding’s boundaries have shrunk and are now much more friendly to the NDP than before—had they been in effect in 2011, the Liberals would have won with 39.7 per cent, followed closely by the NDP with 36.5 per cent.

7. University-Rosedale

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of University-Rosedale

Elections Canada

2011 result (based on current boundaries): 2nd place, 30.6%
Current LISPOP projection: Leaning NDP

The other high-profile NDP-Liberal battle in the heart of Toronto is in University-Rosedale. Liberal MP Chrystia Freeland decided to run here rather than Toronto Centre after redistribution. She goes up against the NDP’s Jennifer Hollett, a former  journalist with a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard.

The riding includes both university students in the areas surrounding the University of Toronto, and some of Canada’s wealthiest families in Rosedale.

But between the new boundaries, the Liberals’ improved fortunes in Ontario (if you believe the polls), and the significant media attention Freeland has received in the last two years, it’s anyone’s guess who should be considered the favourite in University-Rosedale.

8. Calgary Centre

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Calgary Centre

Elections Canada

2011 result (based on current boundaries): 2nd place, 17.5%
Current LISPOP projection: Leaning Conservative

With the NDP’s strength in Quebec and the Conservative’s strength in rural Ontario, it becomes most imperative for the Liberals to pick up some seats in western Canada, where they won just three ridings in 2011.

Their best chances will come in the centre of large cities. In Calgary Centre, the party is running former provincial MLA Kent Hehr, who was elected by comfortable margins in Calgary-Buffalo in both 2008 and 2011.

He goes up against Conservative MP Joan Crockatt, who eked out a tight 2012 byelection victory over the Liberals and Green Party.

A Liberal hasn’t won in Calgary since 1968, but the demographics of the city’s centre are rapidly changing, and this could be a riding where strategic voting plays a factor.

9. Edmonton Centre

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Edmonton Centre

Elections Canada

2011 result (based on current boundaries): 3rd place, 22.4%
Current LISPOP projection: Leaning NDP

Popular Conservative MP Laurie Hawn is retiring, and all signs point to this being a tight three-way race on election day.

Anne McLellan held this riding for the Liberals from 1993 to 2004, and the party would like it back with Randy Boissonnault, a consultant and former journalist.

But it won’t come easy: the NDP dominated in Edmonton in this year’s provincial election, and are running a strong candidate in Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour. And the Conservatives are running a strong candidate as well in James Cumming, the former President & CEO of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.

10. Vancouver Granville

Riding boundaries for the electoral district of Vancouver Granville

Elections Canada

2011 result (new seat, but based on results in polling stations within the boundaries): 2nd place, 30.1%
Current LISPOP projection: Leaning Liberal

A new riding in the centre of Vancouver, this is a difficult riding to project because of the many diverse neighbourhoods it includes, from the working-class Mt. Pleasant to the wealthy Shaughnessy.

The Liberals have been targeting this seat for some time, nominating former Assembly of First Nations B.C. regional chief Jody Wilson-Raybould last year.

The candidates she is up against are no pushovers: the Conservatives have nominated Erinn Broshko, managing director at Rand Investments, while the NDP have chosen Mira Oreck, director of public engagement at the Broadbent Institute, and someone who has been campaigning with NDP leader Tom Mulcair in high-profile events in Toronto.

But some analysts are projecting over 10 seats for the Liberals in British Columbia, which would be the most they’ve won in this province since 1968. If they’re to do that, they have to win in places like Vancouver-Granville, where they’ve had some traditional strength.

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