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Federal Election 2021: Key ridings to watch in British Columbia

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Cara Camcastle, political science professor at SFU, offers her analysis of what to expect now that the federal election has officially been called – Aug 15, 2021

Although the federal election in 2019 did not go how the Conservatives had hoped, it was a successful campaign for the party in British Columbia.

The federal Conservatives jumped from nine seats to 17 in B.C. two years ago.

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Global BC Political Panel: August 15 – Aug 15, 2021

National polls are leaning towards this election not being as fruitful for new party leader Erin O’Toole. The federal Liberals hold 11 seats and are looking to regain many after winning 18 in B.C. in 2015.

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The NDP holds 11 seats, down from 13 in 2015. The Greens have two seats in B.C. and both incumbents are running again.

Independent MP Jody Wilson-Raybould is not running again.

Here are the top ridings to watch in British Columbia.

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Burnaby North—Seymour

Terry Beech is the only MP Burnaby North—Seymour has ever had. The Liberal won the riding in both 2015 and 2019.

But what makes the riding unique and politically challenging is the fact half of the riding is in Burnaby and the other half in North Vancouver. Beech won by fewer than 1,600 votes over NDP candidate Svend Robinson.

Robinson is not running again. District of North Vancouver councillor Jim Hanson is the NDP candidate. Thirty-one-year-old Kelsey Shein is the candidate for the Conservatives.

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Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola

This has traditionally been Conservative territory in British Columbia. But the provincial election proved votes in the Okanagan and Similkameen are willing to go with the centre-left political option.

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Dan Albas is seeking re-election. The Conservative was first elected in 2011 and won the 2019 election by nearly 15,000 votes.

If the Conservatives start losing traction this could be one of the big surprises to switch political hands. The riding includes Osoyoos, Keremeos and many other communities.

The Liberals have nominated Sarah Eves and the NDP is expected to nominate Joan Phillip. Phillip was the party’s candidate two years ago.

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Cloverdale—Langley City

This will be one of the most-watched seats in Metro Vancouver and potentially across the country.

Conservative Tamara Jansen won the seat in 2019 by fewer than 1,400 votes over incumbent John Aldag.

Aldag held the seat for the Liberals from 2015 to 2019 and is running again.

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Once considered a Conservative stronghold, the political climate in southeast Surrey and Langley is changing quickly. The BC NDP swept through the area on the way to a majority government in the 2020 provincial election.

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Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam

Liberal Ron McKinnon is starting to get used to close races. As a political newcomer in 2015, McKinnon surprisingly won Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam by fewer than 2,000 votes over Conservative and former MLA Douglas Horne.

Fast forward to election night in 2019 and McKinnon was once again in a close race, narrowly defeating Conservative Nicholas Insley by 390 votes, making it one of the closest races in the entire country.

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McKinnon is running again this time around and is set to face a fresh set of faces. Katerina Anastasiadis has been chosen as the Conservative candidate and Laura Dupont is the NDP candidate.

The race should be once again between the Liberals and Conservatives, but the NDP has proven both federally and provincially they can be competitive in Tri-Cities races. This is one of those seats the Liberals need to hold on to.

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Read more: 2019 Canada election results: Fleetwood-Port Kells

Fleetwood—Port Kells

Fleetwood—Port Kells is one of about half a dozen Metro Vancouver ridings the Liberals and Conservatives will be battling over.

Conservative Nina Grewal held the riding for more than a decade before she was defeated by Liberal Ken Hardie in 2015.

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Hardie was re-elected to represent the riding in 2019, defeating Conservative Shinder Purewal by 1,883 votes – a margin of 3.9 per cent. The NDP’s Annie Ohana finished third.

The Conservatives have nominated a high-profile candidate to take Hardie on. Former BC Liberal MLA Dave Hayer will be hoping to return to elected life, this time on the federal level.

This was one of those surprise swings during the Liberal wave across Metro Vancouver six years ago.

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Kelowna—Lake Country

This is another traditional Conservative seat that the Liberals won in 2015, only to lose it again in 2019.

Conservative Tracy Gray won by nearly 9,000 votes over incumbent Stephen Fuhr. Unlike Langley and the southern Okanagan/Similkameen, this is not an area where the BC NDP did well in last year’s provincial election.

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Gray, a former Kelowna city councillor and Conservative candidate, defeated Fuhr, who was the first Liberal to represent Kelowna since 1972 and the first to represent the party in B.C.’s Interior since 1979.

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The Liberals have nominated Tim Krupa. Krupa currently works for Canada Pension Plan Investments.

In 2015, Fuhr knocked off three-time Conservative incumbent Ron Cannan in what was considered a major upset.

Kootenay—Columbia

A rare NDP/Conservative battle along the Canadian Rockies.

Wayne Stetski won the riding for the NDP in 2015 by fewer than 300 votes, one of the closest races in the country.

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Stetski then lost to Conservative Rob Morrison in 2019 by a little more than 7,000 votes. There will be a rematch this time around, with Stetski and Morrison both running again.

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The Conservatives are the favourites here, but with success in the past, the NDP is hoping to win the riding that includes Revelstoke and Cranbrook.

Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon

This is another riding that before 2015 would have seemed impossible for the Conservatives to lose. But in Justin Trudeau’s red wave through Metro Vancouver, the Liberals won this seat by a little more than 1,000 votes.

Read more: 2019 Canada election results: Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon

Conservative Brad Vis won the riding back in 2019, beating incumbent Jati Sidhu by more than 7,200 votes.

Vis is running for re-election in the riding that covers Mission, parts of Abbotsford, Harrison Hot Springs and Lillooet.

Nanaimo—Ladysmith

National pundits will circle this as one of the most interesting races in the country although it likely will have little bearing on the outcome of the election.

The NDP dominated Nanaimo until 2019 when Paul Manly won the seat for the Greens in a byelection. The byelection was triggered after Sheila Malcolmson left to run provincially.

Just a few months after the byelection, Manly won the seat in the general election by nearly 8,000 votes.

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But with the Greens in disarray, the NDP will be throwing a lot of resources at trying to win back this riding. School board trustee Lisa Marie Barron will be the NDP’s candidate this time around. This is her first time running federally.

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Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge

This is starting to be a familiar storyline. The Liberals surged in Metro Vancouver suburbs in 2015, only for the Conservatives to win the seat back in 2019.

Dan Ruimy pulled off the major upset in 2015, clinching a riding for the Liberals by 1,300 votes. But last election Ruimy wasn’t able to hold on, losing the seat to former MLA Marc Dalton by 3,525 votes.

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Dalton is running again in a riding that is expected to be competitive. Both ridings in the Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge are provincially held by the NDP and that could indicate strength for the federal Liberals or the federal NDP.

The NDP has nominated Phil Klapwyk. Although the party has finished third in the riding the last two elections, they have been competitive.

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Port Moody—Coquitlam

The closest riding in British Columbia two years ago is once again set to be competitive.

When the ridings were redrawn in 2015, Fin Donnelly made Port Moody—Coquitlam an NDP riding. He has served part of the community since 2009 and won by nearly 3,000 votes.

Read more: Port Moody-Coquitlam recount terminated, CPC candidate remains winner

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But in 2019, Donnelly made the decision not to run again opening the riding up. Nelly Shin defeated Bonita Zarrillo by a little more than 150 votes.

Shin, a former professional pianist, is set to have a rematch against Coquitlam city councillor Zarrillo. The Liberals have nominated Will Davis.

Richmond Centre

The political tides in Richmond Centre are changing and the federal Liberals are hoping to take advantage.

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After the provincial NDP won three of the four Richmond seats in the 2020 provincial election, the NDP and the Liberals are looking at the community as a possible breakthrough.

Standing in the way is Conservative Alice Wong, who has served the riding since 2008. Wong defeated long-time Liberal MP Raymond Chan in 2008 and has had a strong grip on the riding ever since.

More than half the riding identifies as Chinese in the latest census and it is one of the ridings in Canada where English is not the most common first language.

Wong won by nearly 8,000 votes two years ago and will face Liberal Wilson Miao this time around.

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South Surrey White Rock

Voters in South Surrey White Rock are finally getting some consistency. After electing new MPs in 2015, 2017 and 2019, the riding will elect this time around a familiar face.

Kerry-Lynne Findlay is seeking re-election. She served the riding of Delta during the Harper years only to lose in 2015. Findlay found a political home a little further south and beat incumbent Gordie Hogg by fewer than 3,000 votes in 2019.

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Hogg is running again, hoping to duplicate his success from the 2017 byelection. The former mayor and long-time BC Liberal MLA is one of the politicians who has served the longest in Metro Vancouver.

Hogg won that byelection by fewer than 1,500 votes over Findlay. The riding only opening up after Dianne Watts quit to run for the BC Liberal leadership.

Steveston—Richmond East

Stop me if you have heard this story before. Liberals win in 2015, only to lose to the Conservatives in 2019.

The majority Chinese riding is once again a key Metro Vancouver riding.

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After losing to Joe Peschisolido in 2015, Kenny Chiu won the rematch in 2019 by fewer than 2,700 votes.

This time around the Liberals have nominated Parm Bains. Jack Trovato is the NDP nominee in the riding.

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Vancouver Granville

The most interesting race in 2019 will once again be a crucial riding in British Columbia.

Jody Wilson-Raybould used her immense individual popularity to win the seat as an independent. Her split from the federal Liberals was well documented and dominated political chatter in the province two years ago.

Wilson-Raybould has decided not to run again in the federal election.

This has long been considered a possible three-way race, but Wilson-Raybould turned the race into a blowout and beat the Liberal candidate Taleeb Noormohamed by more than 3,000 votes last time around.

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Noormohamed is running again and the question is whether Wilson-Raybould’s votes go to her old party and help a Liberal get elected or do her more than 17,000 voters seek a different political option.

The Conservatives have nominated Kailin Che in the riding.

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Vancouver Granville riding is one to watch' Canada election: B.C.’s Vancouver Granville riding is one to watch
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West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country

A Liberal vs. Conservative race, with a potential Green and NDP twist.

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country continues to change hands, with the Liberals winning three times since 2004 and the Conservatives winning three times.

Read more: 2019 Canada election results: West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country

The Liberals have won the seat in the last two elections, first Pamela Goldsmith-Jones and most recently Patrick Weiler, who won by more than 5,000 votes two years ago.

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John Weston is running again for the Conservatives. He was the riding’s MP from 2008 to 2015.

High-profile documentary filmmaker and activist Avi Lewis is running in the riding for the NDP. Lewis and his wife Naomi Klein co-wrote the Leap Manifesto, a position paper supported by NDP members advocating for an end to the use of fossil fuels.

The NDP finished fourth in 2019 in the riding, with the Greens coming in third.

Mike Simpson is the Green candidate.

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