Ontario has 124 provincial ridings as it goes into a spring election. Here are 10 to watch:
DON VALLEY WEST
Her Liberals are lagging in the polls, but can Premier Kathleen Wynne secure a victory in her own riding? The veteran politician snatched the seat from the Tories in 2003 as the Liberals formed government, but 15 years later the party and its leader have seen their popularity drop dramatically. The riding has thwarted a party leader in the past – then-Progressive Conservative leader John Tory lost to Wynne in 2007, forcing him to run operations from outside the legislature.
The west Toronto riding is the heart of so-called Ford Nation, the name given to supporters of Tory leader Doug Ford and his late brother, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford. Doug Ford, the elder of the two, represented roughly the same area during his single term on city council, which coincided with his brother’s mayoralty. Both brothers made headlines with their candid remarks and brash demeanour. Ford took over as PC leader after eking out a victory in a race sparked by Patrick Brown’s resignation amid allegations of sexual misconduct that he denies.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has held this riding since it was created in 2007, and the area has been a party stronghold for decades. Horwath is well-liked – at least one poll has suggested she is the most popular of the major party leaders – but she faced criticism from party stalwarts in the last election over her platform, which they deemed too centrist. This will be her third election campaign at the helm of the NDP.
Toronto lawyer and businesswoman Caroline Mulroney was chosen as the Tory candidate in this central Ontario riding last year, long before she threw her hat in the ring for the party leadership – a race in which she finished third. The riding has been blue since it was created in 2007, as has its federal namesake since 2004. Conservative MP Peter Van Loan, who represents the area federally, has helped Mulroney in her campaign. So has her father, former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney, though his support has also led some to accuse her of banking on the family name.
Christine Elliott re-entered politics this winter to seek the Tory leadership but will now face off against Environment Minister Chris Ballard for this Toronto-area seat. The suburban riding has only recently turned Liberal – it was previously held by Progressive Conservative Frank Klees, who chose not to run in the 2014 election. Elliott, a veteran Tory politician with strong support within the party caucus, was considered a frontrunner in the leadership race, which she narrowly lost to Ford. Elliott initially questioned the results of the leadership vote before conceding nearly a full day later.
A riding that used to belong to Jagmeet Singh before he became leader of the federal NDP could potentially go to his younger brother, who is stepping in for the provincial party. Gurratan Singh, a 33-year-old criminal defence lawyer, has worked on his brother’s campaigns in the past though it’s his first time running for provincial office. Brampton East is a new riding that includes much of Bramalea-Gore-Malton, the riding Jagmeet Singh held for six years.
Mike Harris Jr., son of former premier Mike Harris, was handed the Progressive Conservative nomination in April after losing in the nearby riding of Waterloo. Aside from his own name recognition, he may also benefit from having a similar name to the incumbent, Michael Harris, who announced he wouldn’t seek re-election just days before being disqualified as a Tory candidate and booted from the party caucus over allegations he sent inappropriate texts to a former intern.
The Progressive Conservative candidate, 26-year-old Ben Levitt, won the nomination a second time after his first victory was mired in allegations of fraud and ballot-stuffing that sparked a legal battle and a police investigation. The nomination contest was one of several reopened this winter after Ford took leadership of the party. Levitt is running against Liberal Ted McMeekin, a former cabinet minister who is the incumbent in the former riding of Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale.
This new riding includes the area covered by the former riding of Mississauga South, currently held by Liberal Finance Minister Charles Sousa. While he won by a significant margin in the 2014 vote, it remains to be seen whether the Liberals’ decision to run several consecutive deficits starting with their pre-election budget will hurt his cause.
One of two new ridings in Northern Ontario created in an effort to boost Indigenous representation in provincial politics, Kiiwetinoong has a majority Indigenous population. The Tories have nominated Chief Clifford Bull of Lac Seul First Nation, a community of three settlements near Sioux Lookout. Also vying for the seat is Doug Lawrance, the mayor of Sioux Lookout, who is running for the Liberals, and Sol Mamakwa, a member of the Kingfisher Lake First Nation, who is running for the NDP.