Election watch: If Ontario goes to the polls this spring, these are the ridings to keep an eye on

Will she or won’t she?

Andrea Horwath will make or break the Ontario government this week or next – either supporting the Liberal budget or voting against it and sending Ontarians to the polls.

And with several contentious issues facing Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government – the gas plant scandal, the green energy act, labour unrest, mining in the north – a provincial election would make for many hotly contested ridings.

Here are some of the areas to watch.

Click below for a granular look at the 2011 results, poll by poll:

In the 2011 Ontario election seven ridings were decided by a margin of less than five per cent.

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Click below for an interactive look at each riding’s margin of victory during Ontario’s 2011 election. The lighter a riding is, the narrower its margin of victory:


Progressive Conservative Randy Pettapiece won Perth-Wellington by the slimmest of margins – 1.4 per cent, or 210 votes.

The riding, which borders the Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound area, could be affected by the wind turbine issue that led to conservative success in this area.

“Wind turbines have been an issue and will continue to an issue for southwestern Ontario,” said Robert Drummond, professor emeritus at York University. “It cost [the Liberals] in the last election and that might not change.”
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Perth-Wellington was the closest race of the 2011 election. Click Click here for an interactive map.


Liberal MPP John Milloy clung to his Kitchener-Centre riding, beating PC Dave MacDonald by just over two per cent. The minister of community and social services could face another tight race, this time against former MPP Wayne Werlaufer, if an election is called.

Poll-by-poll results of the 2011 election in Kitchener-Waterloo. Click for an interactive map.


NDP MPP Catherine Fife’s September, 2012 by-election victory was attributed to a disgruntled teachers union. But that momentum may not continue.

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“By-elections are not good indications of what happens in a general election,” Drummond said .  He adds that the Liberals may have mended enough fences with the teaching unions to save their current seats in this area.

Sudbury and Thunder Bay-Atikokan were among the closest races in the 2011 election. Click for an interactive map.

Fight for the North

A potential election would be a tight race in northern Ontario, where are all parties have historically made headway.

Sudbury and Thunder-Bay-Atikokan, both won by Liberal candidates, were decided by a margin of less than five per cent.

“In the last decade, all three parties have their areas of strength in the North,”  Drummond said.

York-South Weston and Trinity-Spadina were exceptionally close races in 2011. Click for an interactive map of poll-level results.

Horse-races in the “Golden Horseshoe”

While the Liberals try to fend off Tory offensives in the 905 ridings where federal Conservatives have gained ground, they’re also tussling with New Democrats over close races in Toronto.

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Two of the closest in 2011 were York-South Weston and Trinity-Spadina. Next time around, the Liberals will be trying to hang onto MPP Laura Albanese’s seat while attempting to wrest Trinity-Spadina from NDP incumbent Rosario Marchese.

“The conservatives were unable to make a breakthrough in Toronto ridings like they did in the federal election,” said Drummond. “In the 905 there’s a close race between the Liberals and Conservatives. It’s a matter of if the Liberals and hold on to the seats they have.”

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