Ottawa-area races aren't expected to produce 'dramatic' election night

·3 min read
Two people walk through the federal riding of Ottawa Centre this past week, the final one of the 2021 federal election campaign.  (Francis Ferland/CBC - image credit)
Two people walk through the federal riding of Ottawa Centre this past week, the final one of the 2021 federal election campaign. (Francis Ferland/CBC - image credit)

Pundits and pollsters say the political landscape in the city of Ottawa won't change much in the 2021 federal election except for a few tight races.

David Moscrop, an Ottawa-based author and Canadian columnist who writes for the Washington Post, says the city has "a handful of fairly interesting ridings, but nothing quite as dramatic as some others.

Here are the races he and other pundits are monitoring the closest.

Ottawa Centre

Moscrop said Ottawa Centre will receive some attention due to its lack of an incumbent, high-profile candidates and the high percentage of voter turnout.

"Roughly 80 per cent turnout, it's in the heart of Ottawa and incidentally, one of the higher mail-in ballot ridings in the country, one of the top 10," Moscrop said.

CBC
CBC

While it's the smallest geographical riding in the region, the race has a larger piece of the spotlight after Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna announced she was leaving federal politics.

In 2019, McKenna won with more than 48 per cent of the vote, beating the NDP by 15,475 ballots.

New Democrat Angella MacEwen is trying to win the riding back for the NDP against former Liberal MPP Yasir Naqvi.

"While it looks Liberal-leaning and, if you're betting, you're probably betting Liberal, it could in theory go to the New Democrats," Moscrop said.

Éric Grenier, who runs the CBC's Poll Tracker and is the author and publisher of TheWrit.ca, said he will watch Ottawa Centre closely on Monday.

"It is the riding where if the NDP has a good night, they might be able to win it. They hold it provincially, but there's not too many ridings in the Ottawa area that look like they're going to be very close on election night," Grenier said.

Kanata-Carleton

Kanata-Carleton could be tight between the Liberals and Conservatives. Ottawa city councillor Jenna Sudds has replaced Liberal incumbent Karen McCrimmon on the ballot.

In 2019, McCrimmon won by 4,385 votes, the smallest margin of any Ottawa riding.

Jennifer McAndrew is running for the Conservatives and Moscrop said it's hard to know if her party is targeting the riding as one it could turn from red to blue.

The Conservatives have promised publicly to build out the Confederation Line to Kanata, while staying silent on the proposed extension to Barrhaven — an indication the party hopes to flip the west-end riding.

CBC
CBC

Carleton

The changing demographics in nearby Carleton could make things interesting on election night, but Grenier said Conservative incumbent Pierre Poilievre has a good hold on the riding.

He won Carleton with more than 46 per cent of the vote in 2019, sealing the deal with 5,629 more ballots than his Liberal opponent.

"It's becoming more suburban and less rural, so in the future it could be a riding that the Liberals could be looking to pick up from the Conservatives," Grenier said,

He added it would be pretty surprising if the Liberals pull off the win this time.

"They certainly would like to show that they're making some progress and that the changing demographics of the riding are starting to work in their favour," Grenier said.

CBC
CBC

People aren't paying attention

David Coletto, the CEO of polling firm Abacus Data, agreed those ridings are the ones to watch, at least for those who are tuned in.

This campaign, according to Coletto, has been defined by the fact people are paying less attention, even in Ottawa, a region that typically sees higher participation.

"There is indication in the polling that we're doing that people are just less engaged in this election. They don't see really high stakes. And frankly, they're annoyed that we're going through this as the pandemic gets worse," Coletto said.

Coletto said those indications, and fewer polling stations due to pandemic requirements, will likely lead to a lower voter turnout on Monday.

"I don't think that there's anything that changes the fact that we just don't really want this election, even if we are more political animals than other regions of the country," he said.

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