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Mid-campaign regional analysis: the Prairies

There was never much debate about the overall outcome regarding the 62 federal seats in the Prairie provinces. There were some questions at the beginning as to whether the CPC would sweep Alberta’s 34 seats, if Ralph Goodale could hold the lone LPC seat of Saskatchewan’s 14, and if the LPC and NDP could leverage voter fatigue following the Conservative win in the recent Manitoba election to grow their holdings of that province’s 14 seats. Party strategists don’t seem to see much of a contest in the region, as they have eschewed leader visits “out west” in favour of campaigning in vote-rich provinces like Ontario and Quebec.

In Alberta, the federal campaign is largely in the shadow of the United Conservative Party’s fall session and upcoming budget, and even Premier Jason Kenney is campaigning for the CPC in Ontario’s 613 and 905 area codes. Within the province, the main issue remains the economy, and the fact that Alberta’s recession is an afterthought in a federal campaign where many parties seek to curtail the oil and gas industry. It’s not so much talks of separation (espoused by some) as alienation and frustration that characterize most discussions. And there isn’t much of a race here either: the CPC will likely take all 34 seats with a projected popular vote above 60 per cent, despite some spirited races in Edmonton and Calgary.

CPC leader Andrew Scheer hopes to be the second Conservative prime minister from Saskatchewan, and the province is looking very blue. The economy and the carbon tax are hot topics. As noted, LPC warhorse and 26-year veteran MP Ralph Goodale is likely to retain Regina—Wascana despite being written off by some pundits earlier this year. It has been a tight race throughout the campaign, but the long-serving Liberal now may have a slight lead over CPC challenger Michael Kram. Goodale won 55 per cent of the vote in 2015, when he also ran against Kram, who won 30 per cent.

To the north, in Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River, incumbent NDP MP Georgina Jolibois is in a seesaw battle with CPC challenger Gary Vidal. Vidal has led the polls since the writ was dropped, but his lead has diminished recently. Liberal candidate Tammy Cook-Searson was expected to give Jolibois a strong run. With 22 years of experience as Chief and councillor of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, Cook-Searson was a catch for the LPC, but this isn’t holding up in recent polling. The riding is one of the largest in Canada, covering most of the northern half of Saskatchewan. Nothing here can be taken for granted because the NDP, CPC and LPC have each had a turn at representing the riding since 2004. Jolibois won the seat by just 82 votes over her LPC opponent in 2015, and in the previous election, CPC candidate Rob Clarke won by 794 votes over the NDP.

Manitobans re-elected Brian Pallister’s Conservative government on September 10, 2019, and were rewarded with a federal election call the next day. One of the most unusual highlights of the federal campaign so far may be the Los Angeles Times suggesting that Winnipeg South could be the harbinger of Liberal fortunes nationwide. At dissolution, the LPC held seven seats in the province, the CPC five, and the NDP two. Recent polls suggest the Tories could take as many as nine seats, leaving four seats to the Liberals and one to the NDP. Not much here for the leaders to fight over.

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Written by Braedon Clark

Mid-campaign regional analysis : Atlantic Canada
October 10, 2019