Monday, October 27, 2014

Ontario municipal elections today

Residents of Ontario's 444 municipalities will head to the polls today to elect their municipal councils, mayors, reeves, regional chairs, regional councillors, school trustees, and for a few municipalities, vote in local plebiscites. Although this year's election news has been dominated by the mayoral race in Toronto, there are still many other exciting races to take note of, and although some Torontonians would deem other races as “less important,” their outcome could mean big change for many Ontarians.  That being said, I will start with Toronto, Ontario's capital and largest city.


Mayoral Race

    This won't be news for anyone not living in a box under a rock, but the last four years of Toronto municipal politics have made international headlines due to the antics of the city's populist conservative mayor, Rob Ford. As a city councillor in the 2000s, he had already antagonized the city's left, but when re ran for mayor in 2010, his outlandish behaviour began to make headlines across the country. The city's conservative-leaning voters, however, ate up his anti-elitist and anti-downtown rhetoric, propelling Ford to a surprise victory in 2010; he defeated Liberal MPP George Smitherman by a decisive 47% to 36% margin.
    As mayor, Ford would continue his not-so-politically correct rhetoric, and his approval ratings would soon drop to his base of supporters, known as “Ford Nation” (which make up about 30% of the electorate). A number of scandals, including a conflict of interest trial in 2012, which almost booted him from office, did not shake Ford Nation. Even when the whole crack scandal made headlines around the world (and all the negative publicity for the city that came with it), Ford Nation stood firm, preferring a crack addict as mayor to the looming threat of higher taxes.
    Ford's well-known substance abuse issues were never a deterrence to his mayoral campaign this year. It was not until he was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour that he withdrew from the mayor's race just one day before the closing of nominations on September 10. Doug Ford, Rob's older brother and current city councillor for Etobicoke North, essentially switched places with Rob; Doug took Rob's place on the ballot, while Rob decided to run for his former council seat in Etobicoke North.

    The campaign for mayor of Toronto has come down to the battle for the anti-Ford vote. The intensely loyal Ford Nation has continuously given Rob, and now Doug Ford about 30% in the polls throughout the campaign.
    With the other 70% of Toronto fearing the re-election of either Ford, they have coalesced behind another conservative candidate, John Tory, the former leader of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party. Tory is seen as a moderate, and has been able to build a coalition of centrist Liberals and Conservatives in the city.  He has been leading in the polls since the summer, and is far enough ahead that he is likely to be elected. This would be a huge boost for Tory's political career, which was scarred by being unceremoniously shown the door as leader of the PCs. Understandably, the provincial Conservatives would not settle for a leader who lost a Conservative-safe seat in a 2009 by-election.

    Before the summer, NDP Member of Parliament Olivia Chow had been leading in the polls, but after Ford's predecessor, the eventually unpopular left-leaning David Miller, voters in Toronto have become disenchanted with the idea of a left wing mayor. Chow began to slip in the polls following some controversial statements by her then-campaign manager Warren Kinsella. She now sits in a distant third in the polls, stuck with her base of loyal New Democrats and anyone else in the city not willing to vote for a conservative candidate.

Past Mayoral Races

    The City of Toronto, whose current borders were formed in a massive amalgamation in 1998, is an intensely polarized city on the municipal level; the former city of Toronto is far more progressive-leaning than the city's amalgamated suburbs. This cleavage is less apparent in federal and provincial elections, but is strikingly evident in municipal elections.

    The very first election in the amalgamated city in 1997 was a great example of this, with New Democrat Barbara Hall winning the Old City of Toronto (and the more left wing former municipalities of York and East York), while the right wing mayor of North York, Mel Lastman won the large suburban former municipalities of Etobicoke, Scarborough and his former city of North York. 
    The outspoken and controversial Lastman narrowly won the election and was easily re-elected in 2000. In 2003 the city saw another polarizing election when New Democrat David Miller faced off against John Tory. Miller won the same areas as Hal did in 1997, but expanded his support base by winning a few low-income suburban wards. This was enough to give Miller the mayoralty in a narrow 43%-38% win. Miller was easily re-elected in 2006, winning all but two wards in the city.
    By 2010, Miller had become quite unpopular, and did not run again in 2010.  Miller's unpopularity probably helped buoy the candidacy of Rob Ford, whose style and ideology was the polar opposite of Miller. Ford would win the election over George Smitherman by a comfortable 47% to 36% election,  but the city would once again very be polarized. The Old city of Toronto backed Smitherman, while the rest of the city, including York and East York, backed Ford. The map of the election shows this contrast very well. Smitherman won no wards outside the old city, while Ford won none inside.
    Ford's strongest ward was Ward 2, in Etobicoke North, the ward he had previously represented on council. Simtherman's two strongest wards were Wards 27 and 28, which cover the riding he represented in the Ontario Legislative Assembly, Toronto Centre.

Current Mayoral Race

    With the 2014 race being primarily between two conservative candidates, the usual Old city vs. Suburbs polarization will likely be less evident in the electoral map. Tory will likely appeal to centre-right and centre-left voters alike, meaning he will bridge Toronto's polarized electorate, and will likely win most wards in both areas. Because Etobicoke North's Ward 2 is the epicentre of Ford Nation, he will most likely lose this ward to Doug Ford. Ford could also potentially win other Etobicoke wards, such as neighbouring Ward 1.

    Wards 19 and 20 will be interesting to watch, as those wards cover Olivia Chow's former riding of Trinity-Spadina.  If she has a particularly bad election night, however, I can see those wards going to Tory as well, especially considering the area's quick drift to the Liberal Party this year (both in the federal by-election replacing Chow and in this year's provincial election, which saw a huge swing away from the NDP). Ward 30 (covering Riverdale and Leslieville), possibly Toronto's most left wing ward, is also a possibility for Chow.

    For John Tory, his best wards will likely be in the more wealthy areas of the city, especially the Don Valley West area, which includes Wards 25 and 26. Those two wards were the only wards to not back David Miller in 2006, and cover the riding in which John Tory ran as leader of the Progressive Conservatives in the 2007 provincial election.

City Council

Map of Toronto's 44 wards

On Toronto City Council, there will be a number of interesting races to watch across the city's 44 wards. Perhaps the most interesting will be in Ward 2, where Rob Ford is attempting to remain on city council.
In Ward 6, another Ford, the progressive leaning Russ Ford (not related to the Ford brothers, which is made especially clear in their differing political ideologies) is facing off against incumbent councillor Mark Grimes.
There is a four-way race in Ward 12 between incumbent Frank Di Giorgio, former Liberal-turned-Independent MP John Nunziata, 2nd place finisher from 2010 Nick Dominelli and Youth initiative executive director Lekan Olawoye.
In Ward 26, incmbent John Parker is in deep trouble against the John Tory-backed Jon Burnside.

Open seats with retiring incumbents will be exciting to watch, in addition to the aforementioned Ward 2, where Rob Ford is running.

In Ward 3, Stephen Holyday (son of former councillor Doug Holyday) is facing off against Annette Hutcheon.
In Ward 4, retired police officer Niels Christensen is going against former Toronto District School Board Chair John Campbell, former Tory MPP Chris Stockwell and businessman Angelo Carnevale.
In Ward 5, it looks like Justin Di Ciano, the runner up in 2010 will cruise to victory over Kinga Surma, the former aide to former councillor Peter Milczyn.
In Ward 16, social justice activist Dyanoosh Youssefi takes on lawyer Adam Tanel.
In Ward 20, New Democrat Joe Cressy, fresh off losing this summer's federal by-election, has a commanding lead over outspoken Liberal Sarah Thomson.
And finally, in Ward 39, former Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis looks like he will be elected to council, as he has a commanding lead against outgoing councillor Mike Del Grande's staffer Franco Ng.


Mayoral Race

    Ottawa's mayoral election this year is certainly very yawn-worthy. The city's self proclaimed “Boring Mayor”, former Liberal MPP and provincial cabinet minister Jim Watson is headed for certain re-election. In contrast to his Toronto counterpart, Watson has been rather uncontroversial as mayor. Unlike his predecessor, Larry O'Brien, he has built a large coalition on city council to push through his agenda, with minimal opposition. It seems the one thing he could not get council to agree to was reducing the size of the chamber, which council (thankfully, in my opinion) rebuked.

    This is not to say that Watson's term has not been without opposition in the city. The talk radio-listening, Ottawa Sun-reading, conservative-populist crowd in the city has been in strong opposition to the mayor. From their opposition to marginal property tax increases to Ottawa's new green-bin program and fortnightly garbage pickup, and the massive spending on expanding Ottawa's currently infinitesimal light rail, they have remained consistent with their complaints.
    Conservative-populists in the city, a coalition of angry suburbanites and rural voters have, for the most part, gotten behind the only candidate to be seen as a threat to Watson in this race, Mike Maguire. Maguire is an IT operator from the rural community of Kars, in the south end of the city. He ran in the 2010 election for mayor, picking up 2% of the vote in a very crowded field of more credible conservative candidates (including the mayor at the time, O'Brien).

    Outside of Watson and Maguire, there are six other candidates. Out of these six, semi-retired wedding officiant and Kinburn resident Darren W. Wood is running the most vocal campaign.
    Wood, originally from Niagara Falls, has run multiple times in the past, including for mayor of Niagara Falls in 2003 (in which he won 1% of the vote). Wood is running on a moderate fiscally conservative platform, “sticking up for the little guy”.
    Yet another candidate running on a fiscal conservative platform is construction engineer Anwar Syed, an immigrant from India who is currently working in Toronto. Syed is also no stranger to electoral politics, having run in the 2006 federal election in Ottawa Centre, and winning 0.2% of the vote.
    A third fringe candidate with a similar platform is trades contractor Robert White, a self described “Red Tory”, who was running for mayor in 2010 before endorsing Andy Haydon.

    Outside of those three fiscal conservative candidates, there are three more candidates running near non-existent campaigns to date. Because of this, not much is known about their platforms.
    Bernard Couchman is an entrepreneur whose campaign site is actually just the website for his company, H20 Boy. Then there is Rebecca Pyrah, a Carleton University student originally from Georgetown, who gained notoriety last November wearing a plethora of moustaches to raise awareness of prostate cancer in her role as chair of Movember Carleton. Lastly there is Michael St. Arnaud, soup kitchen volunteer who also ran for mayor in 2010, winning 0.1%.

    The race for mayor has been so non-noteworthy, that there has only been one public poll released during the campaign. Conducted in September, Forum Research showed that Watson led Magure 44-17, with 30% of the electorate being undecided.
    Interestingly, Ottawa hasn't seen a true landslide mayoral election since Jim Watson first became mayor in 1997. In that election, fought on Ottawa's pre-amalagamation boundaries, Watson won 82% of the vote. This was a huge result, considering he was not the incumbent mayor, but a sitting city councillor at the time.
    Watson only served as mayor for 2 1/2 years, when he resigned to become CEO of the Canadian Tourism Commission. After serving in Queen's Park for some time, he returned as mayor of the city in 2010.

    Similar to Toronto, the Ottawa electorate is heavily polarized between populist conservatives living in the suburbs and Ottawa's rural areas and moderate liberals and progressives living in the central city, inner-suburbs and Francophone east end.  Recent federal and provincial elections show this divide as well.
    But what it means is that it is unlikely for a mayoral candidate, even as popular as Watson, to win a huge majority of the vote. Since the first post-amalagamation election in 2000, no mayoral candidate has ever been able to win every ward in the city. Even in the most lopsided elections (2003 and 2010), the leading conservative candidates were able to at least win Ottawa's three rural wards.     This scenario is likely to manifest itslef once again in October. Watson is likely to get around 60% of the vote, but will likely lose Ottawa's three most rural wards (West Carleton-March, Rideau-Goulbourn and Osgoode). For a comparison election, look at 2003 when another former Liberal MPP (a job he would later go back to) and incumbent mayor Bob Chiarelli defeated another conservative populist Terry Kilrea, 57% to 36%. Kilrea won the three rural wards of the city, while Chiarelli won the rest.
    I suspect Watson is more popular than Chiarelli, which is why I think he will win at least 60%. However, unlike Kilrea, Mike Maguire has rural roots (living in a rural community in Rideau-Goulbourn Ward), which means he will have especial appeal to rural voters.

Past Mayoral Races

    Ottawa's first post-amalgamation election in 2000 was the last race to be fought on non-ideological lines. Bob Chiarelli, the Regional Chair of Ottawa-Carleton (the regional municipality preceding Ottawa with its current boundaries), won the race, defeating Gloucester mayor Claudette Cain. Chiarelli won all but 5 wards of the new city, but those 5 wards were neither Ottawa's most conservative nor most liberal wards. They were all in the east end of the city, in areas which covered Gloucester or had large Francophone populations.
    The next election in 2003 saw a polarized vote between Chiarelli and Terry Kilrea, which saw Chiarelli win all five of the wards he lost in 2000 (in fact, his best ward, Rideau-Vanier was one of these five), but lose the three rural wards to Kilrea.
    In 2006, voters had grown tired of Chiarelli, booting him to third place. That election was the most polarized race in Ottawa's post amalgamation city, as it pitted a clear conservative in businessman Larry O'Brien against a clear progressive in former city councillor Alex Munter. Chiarelli was caught in the middle, seeing his vote decline to 16%. Without a centrist to support, Ottawa's centre-right suburban voters backed O'Brien at the last minute, giving him a surprise 47%-36% victory. Munter was only able to win seven wards, five of which were in the central city, and the other two were in Kanata, where he was a former councillor. Except for Kanata, O'Brien won all of suburban Ottawa, both the inner and outer suburbs, but he did the best in Ottawa's three rural wards, despite living Downtown.

    O'Brien's mayoralty was rife with scandal and gaffes, showing voters that he wasn't up for the job. In came popular former mayor and provincial cabinet mister Jim Watson to save the day. Voters in 2010 gave Watson 49% of the vote, giving O'Brien, who won just 24% of the vote, a resounding defeat.     This 24% was the lowest ever for a second place candidate since amalgamation. Yet, O'Brien still won Ottawa's three most rural wards. Those three wards were very close though, as former regional chair Andy Haydon (who would go on to win 7%) had eaten into O'Brien's conservative vote.     Watson's support was near-evenly distributed throughout the rest of the city, with the highest concentrations in the Francophone east end. He was prevented from getting massive percentages in central wards, as he was also challenged from the left by city councillor Clive Doucet, who would win 15% of the vote.

Results of the Ottawa 2010 mayoral election by ward

    The mayoral race in 2010 saw 20 candidates, the most ever in the post-amalgamation city. It was a true watershed election, as it saw six incumbent councillors go down in defeat. In both 2003 and 2006, not one single sitting councillor would lose their seats.
    Watson won all but three wards in the city, losing just the three rural wards to O'Brien. Watson's strength in the rest of the city was fairly evenly distributed. His strongest ward was in the heavily Francophone Rideau-Vanier Ward.

City Council

    Considering that this election will not be a watershed race, it is unlikely that very many incumbents on Ottawa's 23 seat city council will go down to defeat.
    In my opinion, the weakest incumbent is Peter Clark, who represents Rideau-Rockcliffe Ward (#13). The right-leaning Clark is a poor fit for the left-leaning ward, and only won 26% of the vote when he was elected in the 2010 election; in this year's election, Clark's main opponent is centrist lawyer Tobi Nussbaum.
    Another incumbent at risk is Katherine Hobbs, who represents the rapidly gentrified Kitchissippi Ward (#15). Hobbs, a centrist, is facing a tough challenge against the more progressive leaning Jeff Leiper.
    Outside of those two wards, I do not see any other incumbents losing.
    There are six open seats where no incumbents are running, one of them being my home ward of Alta Vista (#18). Here, I believe Jean Cloutier has the best chance of winning, as he was endorsed by the outgoing councillor, Peter Hume, who is very popular in the area. His strongest challenger is the centrist Clinton Cowan, who ran against Hume in 2010.
    There is a four-way race brewing in the east end Innes Ward (#18) between former journalist Laura Dudas, Amazing Race contestant Corporal Jody Mitic, training development officer Francois Trepanier, and Fred Sherwin, who ran in the 2010 election in a neighbouring Ward.
    In the Downtown Somerset Ward (#14), my estimation is that the race will be between the NDP-backed Catherine McKenney, who is the former assistant to the outgoing councillor Diane Holmes, and Jeff Morrison, who is the former president of the Centretown Community Health Centre. Consultant Martin Canning is another strong candidate running in this ward.
    In River Ward (#16) in the south end of the city, the race is between former school trustee Riley Brockington, former Tory candidate Mike Patton and accountant Vanessa Sutton.
    In Osgoode Ward (#20), a rural ward in the southeast corner of the city, it is a free-for-all to replace outgoing incumbent Doug Thomspson. The candidate with the best chance of winning is George Darouze, who was in fact endorsed by Thompson himself.
    Finally, in Gloucester-South Nepean Ward (#22), a rapidly growing suburban ward in the city's south end, the race is between Michael Qaqish, former aide to the outgoing councillor Steve Desroches; Susan Sherring, a columnist for the Ottawa Sun; and Scott Hodge, the president of a neighbourhood association.

Map of Ottawa's 23 wards


    For the first time since 1978, residents of Ontario's now-third largest city will today elect a new mayor. Retiring is “Hurricane” Hazel McCallion, who turned 93 years old this year. The hugely popular McCallion has finally called it quits, leaving the city to its first competitive election in 36 years. The two main candidates to replace McCallion are both former Liberal Members of Parliament, Bonnie Crombie and Steve Mahoney.
    Both Crombie and Mahoney have near identical platforms, so the race for mayor has been more about personalities. Mahoney has been leading in public opinion polls for most of the campaign, but the most recent poll released a few days ago by Forum Research showed a huge swing in voters' intentions to Bonnie Crombie. Crombie went from losing to Mahoney by four points in September to leading by a whole 25 points. The reason? Most definitely because McCallion all-but-indorsed Crombie in a speech earlier this month.

Mississauga 2010 mayoral election results by ward

    In the 2010 election, McCallion was easily re-elected with 76% of the vote. As impressive as it sounds, this was much lower than the 91% she won in 2006. Not surprisingly, she won every ward in the city. Her strongest ward was Ward 9, in the northwest end of the city, while her worst ward was Ward 5, in the northeast corner of the city, where she still won 71% of the vote.

    Politically, Mississauga usually votes as a bloc on the provincial and federal levels. That is, its ridings usually vote the same way in federal and provincial elections. Presently, every Mississauga seat is held by the Conservatives in the House of Commons, while every riding is held by the Liberals in Queen's Park, except for one riding which is mostly in Brampton (held by the NDP). Therefore I suspect that whoever wins the mayor's chair will win every ward in the city. Especially considering both Crombie and Mahoney have such similar platforms.

On city council, Mississauga is represented by 11 councillors representing 11 wards, who also represent the city on Peel Regional Council. Wards 2, 5 and 8 will all have open races. 

Mississauga ward map


Just north of Mississauga lies Ontario's fourth largest city, Brampton. Brampton's mayor, since 2000 has been Susan Fennell, who is in the fight for her political career this election, following a number of scandals, including one where she tried covering up the fact that she was Canada's highest paid mayor. Recent polls show Fennell in a distant third behind former Liberal MPP Linda Jeffrey and city councillor John Sanderson, who is running a bit of a populist campaign. Sanderson has been trailing Jeffrey in the polls, but the most recent one has shown that he has closed the gap. It looks like we're in for a close one tonight.

Brampton 2010 mayoral election results by ward

The now-disgraced Fennell won election easily in 2010, with 51% of the vote, far ahead of her nearest competitor, Bruce Haines, at 18%. Fennell won every ward in the city. Her strongest ward was Ward 8, covering the Bramalea area, where she won 59% of the vote. Her worst ward was Ward 10, which covered the eastern end of the city, known as the Gore. Fennell's worst areas were in the east end of the city, which has a high Indo-Canadian population. These areas have vote N.D.P. in recent elections, while Fennell is a past candidate for the Progressive Conservatives.

For this election, Brampton will have a brand new ward map. Voters elect five city councillors and five Peel regional councillors. Each councillor represents two of Brampton's 10 wards. Voters in Wards 1 and 5 elect one candidate city council and one candidate for regional council, voters in Wards 2 and 6 do the same, as for Wards 3 and 4, 7 with 8 and 9 with 10.

New Brampton ward map


In March, it was announced that Hamilton's one-term mayor Bob Bratina would be not run for re-election, as he would be seeking the federal Liberal Party nomination in Hamilton Centre. Since Hamilton's amalgamation with its surrounding municipalities in 2001, it has never had a mayor serve two consecutive terms in office. With Bratina out of the race, this streak will continue.

Currently, former Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger is leading in the polls, and hopes to be the first person two serve more than one term in office since amalgamation. Eisenberger, a Conservative was mayor from 2006 to 2010.  He lost the mayoralty in 2010 in a three-way race. The most recent Forum Research poll conducted over a week ago shows Eisenberger at 37%. Trailing him is councillors Brad Clark at 25% and Brian McHattie at 22%.  Clark is a former Tory MPP and represents Ward 9 in the Stoney Creek area. McHattie is a more left-leaning candidate who represents Ward 1 in the west end of the city. Despite Hamilton being known as an “NDP city”, its two leading mayoral candidates are conservatives.

Hamilton 2010 mayoral election results by ward

Much like Ottawa and Toronto, Hamilton is a politically polarized city due to an amalgamation which put its left leaning former city in with more conservative leaning suburbs. 2003 was perhaps Hamilton's most polarized post-amalgamation election, as the city's downtown backed New Democrat David Christopherson, while the city's suburbs backed the Liberal-aligned Larry Di Ianni, who won the election. 2006 was less polarized, as the Conservative Eisenberger received enough support from progressives in downtown to stop Di Ianni from being elected. In 2010, Bratina came up the middle, winning the election with 37% of the vote, and winning most wards by small margins. Bratina won all but three wards in the city, but eight of the 12 wards he won was with less than 40% of the vote. In only two wards, in the rural western part of the city did he win more than 50% of the vote. The key to Bratina's victory though, was that he won in Downtown Hamilton, and he won in the suburbs. Former mayor Di Ianni finished second in the election winning 28%. He won two wards, one in Stoney Creek where he had served as a councillor, and one in the west Mountain. Mayor Eisenberger finished third with 27%, winning just one ward, Ward 1 in the west end.

With two conservatives running for mayor and one progressive, it is likely that tonight's electoral map will show McHattie winning in just the Downtown core, while the two other candidates duke it out for the suburban vote. With Eisenberger having a comfortable lead, this might mean he will win nearly every suburban ward.

Hamilton's city council is represented by 15 councillors representing the 15 wards of the city. There are open seats in Wards 1, 3, 9 and 13.

Map of Hamilton's wards


In 2010, London voters elected Liberal MP Joe Fontana as their mayor in a close race against incumbent Anne Marie DeCicco-Best. Just two years after his election, allegations of misuse of government funds began by Fontana at his son's wedding began to surface. In June, Fontana was found guilty of these charges, which was quickly followed by his resignation from the office. Since June, the city has been run by Joni Baechler on an interim basis. This has meant that there will be no incumbent on the ballot for the mayor of the city in this election.

According to a poll conducted earlier this month by Forum Research, the two front runners for mayor of the city are Matt Brown who is at 35% and Paul Cheng who is at 27%. Brown is a one-term councillor representing Ward 7 in the northwest corner of the city. Cheng is a wealthy businessman, whose only foray into politics was running for the Reform Party back in 1993.

London 2010 mayoral election results by ward

The 2010 London election was a re-match of the 2006 race, featuring DeCicco-Best and Fontana. DeCicco-Best bested Fontana 58% to 36% in 2006, but following a number of controversies, Fontana bested DeCicco-Best in a narrow victory in the 2010 election, winning by only 2600 votes. In the election, Fontana did well across the city, winning at least 40% of the vote in every single ward. DeCicco-Best's support was pretty spread out as well, winning at least 40% in all but one ward – Ward 4, which covers the Carling neighbourhood east of downtown. This was the only ward in the city where Fontana won a majority of the vote. DeCicco-Best won four of the city's 14 ward, all of them in the central part of the city. Her best ward was Ward 6, an area north of downtown surrounding the University of Western Ontario. This was the only ward where she won a majority of the vote. Interestingly, DeCicco-best did better in the parts of the city that tend to vote Liberal, while the former Liberal MP, Joe Fontana did better in the Tory and NDP areas.

Map of London's wards


Markham is a fast growing, sprawling city north of Toronto. Since 2006, Markham has been headed by mayor Frank Scarpitti. Scarpitti was re-elected as mayor in 2010 in a landslide election, winning 85% of the vote. His nearest competitor was Stephen Kotyck, who won just 9%. The two candidates will be facing off again this time, and it is expected to be a more competitive race. Opposition to Sarpitti has been gaining, beginning with a successful effort by local citizens to stop a plan to build a large municipal arena in the city, which lacked funding. Citizens concerned with the spending of the Scarpitti-led council have backed Kotyck, as well as a number of council candidates.

Markham 2010 mayoral election results by ward

In 2010, Scarpitti won more than 85% of the vote in all but two wards in the city. In the older wards 7 and 8, a stronger showing by the third place candidate, Partap Dua ate into Scarpitti's support. Even still, in Scarpitti's worst ward, Ward 7, he still won 73%.

The 2014 election will be fought on a new ward map in the city. Markham will still have 8 wards, each electing one councillor. Additionally, the city elects three candidates at-large to York regional council.

Markham's new ward map


Next door to Markham is the City of Vaughan, another growing, sprawling suburban city. Vaughan is known as having a high Italian population, and also being home to the Jewish enclave of Thornhill. The city has been led by former Liberal MP Maurizio Bevilacqua since 2010. Bevilacqua faces little competition in his bid for re-election. His opposition consist of Paul Donofrio, a past NDP candidate in the area, Savino Quatela a perennial candidate who finished last in 2010 and Daniel DeVito, who has been running a low-key campaign.

Vaughan 2010 mayoral election results by ward

In 2010, Bevilacqua was easily elected with 64% of the vote. He beat out the incumbent mayor Linda Jackson, who won just 14.5% of the vote, and former Liberal MPP Mario Racco who won just 14.4%. Bevilacqua won all five wards in the city, doing the best in Ward 2, which covers Woodbridge.  Bevilacqua was weakest in the eastern part of the city, where Racco had better numbers. This is primarily because Racco had represented Thronhill in Queen's Park, and Thornhill is found in the eastern part of Vaughan.

Vaughan City Council consists of five city councillors representing the city's five wards, plus three regional councillors elected at-large, who also represent the city on York Regional Council.

Map of Vaughan's wards


In Kitchener, long-time incumbent mayor Carl Zehr is calling it quits, leaving the city's race for the top position open. The two main candidates in the race are 20-year city council veteran Berry Vrbanovic and one-term city councillor Dan Glenn-Graham.

Zehr, a Liberal, was easily re-elected in 2010 with 79% of the vote. He won all 10 wards of the city, with his worst ward being Ward 3, in the southeast corner of the city, where he still won 73% of the vote. His best ward was Ward 7, in the northwest corner of the city, where he won 82% of the vote.

Kitchener 2010 mayoral election results by ward

Voters in Kitchener elect 10 city councillors from each of the city's 10 wards. Additionally the city elects 4 at-large members of the Waterloo Regional Council. Voters in the Waterloo Region, which includes Waterloo, Cambridge and four other municipalities, also elect a chair of the council.

Kitchener ward map


Three-term incumbent mayor Eddie Francis is calling it quits, leaving the spot of mayor of Windsor wide open. There are three main candidates in the race replace him, right of centre two-term city councillor Drew Dilkens, millionaire businessman Larry Horwitz and left leaning Liberal former mayor John Millson, who served as mayor from 1988 to 1991.

Windsor 2010 mayoral election results by ward

The 2010 election saw Francis defeat former Liberal MP Rick Limoges 56% to 40%. This margin was not enough for Francis to win every ward in the city. Limoges won one ward, Ward 5 which covers the Walkerville neighbourhood of the city. This area made up part of the Windsor-St. Clair federal riding that Limoges represented. As for Francis, he won the remaining 9 wards, winning with the largest margins in the more suburban areas. His strongest ward was Ward 1 (which Dilkens represents), a ward  covering the southern and western suburbs of the city.

Map of Windsor's wards

Richmond Hill

Dave Barrow has been the mayor of this suburban community north of Toronto since 2006. In both 2006 and 2010 Barrow won his elections by huge margins. However, this election is expected to be much closer. His main competition comes from rookie councillor Carmine Perrelli. Over the last four years, the municipality has seen some friction, as Perrelli has teamed up with two other councillors to form an opposition bloc against Barrow. But most of all what is helping Perrelli is that Barrow has recently been brought up on conflict of interest charges- something he has recently been vindicated of.

Richmond Hill 2010 mayoral election results by ward

In 2010, Barrow was easily re-elected with 90% of the vote, over one challenger, Abu Alam. Barrow won every ward, with his strongest showing in Ward 4 where he won 93% of the vote. His worst ward was Ward 3 where he won 87% of the vote.

Voters in Richmond Hill elect six town councillors from each of the six municipal wards. In addition, the town elects two at-large York regional councillors.
Map of Richmond Hill's wards


Incumbent mayor Rob Burton is expected to be re-elected as mayor of Oakville. Burton, a Liberal, has lead the municipality since 2006. His main competition appears to be from real estate agent Gordon Brennan and lawyer John McLaughlin.

In 2010, Burton was re-elected in a re-match against long-time Tory mayor Ann Mulvale. In 2006, he beat her 38% to 34%. In 2010, he beat her again by a larger margin, 52% to 42%. In victory, Burton won five of the town's six wards. Mulvale won just one ward, Ward 5 in the north-central part of the town, a ward that contains some newer subdivisions. Burton's strongest ward was Ward 4, in the northwest corner of the town, where he won 57% of the vote.

Oakville 2010 mayoral election results by ward

Each ward in Oakville elects two members to Town Council. One of those members also represents the Town on Halton Regional Council. Additionally, voters elect a Chair to head the regional council, in conjunction with the other three municipalities in Halton.

Oakville ward map


To the west of Oakville lies Burlington, whose mayor is Rick Goldring, a former Green Party candidate. He has held the job of mayor since 2010. His main opponent is real estate broker Peter Rusin, who was a late entry in the race.

In 2010, Golrding, then a city councillor was elected as mayor with 48% of the vote. He defeated Carol D'Amelio and incumbent mayor Cam Jackson, a Tory. D'Amelio finished 2nd with 25%, while Jackson won 22%. Goldring won all six wards in the city, doing the best in the four more urban lakefront wards. His best ward was Ward 1 in the southwest corner of the city, where he won 52% of the vote. His worst ward was Ward 6 in the northeast corner of the city, where he only won 39% of the vote, nearly losing to D'Amelio.

Burlington 2010 mayoral election results by ward

Each of Burlington's six wards elects a city councillor, who serves on both city council and regional council.

Burlington ward map

Greater Sudbury

Northern Ontario's largest municipality is “Greater Sudbury”, which consists of the former city of Sudbury and its suburbs.  The municipality was formed via amalgamation in 2001. Like Hamilton, Sudbury has not elected a mayor to two non-consecutive terms since amalgamation. And, just like Hamilton, this streak will continue once more, as mayor Marianne Matichuk is not running again.

The main candidates for mayor are city auditor Brian Bigger, taxpayer lobbyist Dan Melanson, former mayor and NDP MP John Rodriguez and city councillor Ron Dupuis. A recent Oraclepoll Research poll showed Bigger with lead at 31%,  Melanson at 23%, Rodriguez at 21% and Dupuis at 16%. 34% were undecided.

Greater Sudbury 2010 mayoral election results by ward

The 2010 election was a battle of the right wing vs the left wing. Political neophyte Marianne Matichuk was labelled as some observers as having a “Tea Party” mentality, while the incumbent mayor John Rodriguez, a New Democrat was firmly on the left. Perhaps channeling Rob Ford's populist rhetoric, Matichuk cruised to victory, defeating Rodriguez 46% to 36%. Matichuk won all but one of the city's 12 wards. Her strongest ward was Ward 2, which covers the Walden and Copper Cliff areas, where she won 52% of the vote. Rodriguez's lone ward win was Ward 5, which covers part of Valley East, where he won 43%.

Greater Sudbury ward map


Oshawa will see a re-match of the 2010 election, pitting incumbent mayor John Henry against the man he ousted from the mayor's chair in that election, John Gray. Ray poses a strong shot at reclaiming the mayor's job, as the last four years have been marred by an unruly council. By unruly I mean, at one council meeting, a brawl broke loose, two men were arrested, and it was all caught on video, which was promptly uploaded to YouTube.

Henry defeated Gray in 2010 due to voter frustration over high taxes and a sense of entitlement, but that may be water under the bridge at this point.  In the election, Henry won six of the city's seven electoral wards. Only one ward, along the lakefront, was won by Gray. Generally, the further out from the lakefront, the stronger the support was for Henry.

Oshawa 2010 mayoral election results by electoral ward

While Oshawa may have seven wards, they are meaningless when it comes to its council. Seven city and Durham regional councillors are elected at large, while three additional city-only councillors are elected at large. For the first time ever, voters in Oshawa, and the rest of the Durham Region will be electing a Chair of the regional council. Additionally, voters in Oshawa will be voting in a referendum to determine whether it wants to elect its council by wards, or to maintain the status quo of electing them at-large.


In Barrie, rookie mayor Jeff Lehman is being challenged by just token opposition, none of which has any political experience. Lehman, who was first elected in 2010 in a four-way race, is running against businessman Ram Faerber, 19 year old Zachary Gillespie-Rogers and transit driver Ray Mawhinney. Barrie's council election will be fought on a new ward map, as Barrie's 10 municipal wards have been reorganized.

Barrie's new ward map

St. Catharines

There is an open race for mayor of St. Catharines, as two-term incumbent Brian McMullan is retiring. Running to replace McMullan is Merritton Ward councillor Jeff Burch, perennial Green Party candidate Jim Fannon, St. George's councillor Peter Secord, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce CEO Walter Sendzik, and political neophyte Mark Stevens, a worker at a food processing plant. A Forum Research poll from earlier this month showed Burch in the lead at 22%, Sendzik was was at 16%, Secord was at 15%, Stevens was at 5% and Fannon at 3%. 32% were undecided. In the poll, Burch was strong amongst Liberals and New Democrats while Sendzik was popular among Tories.

Each of St. Catharines' six wards elects two members to city council. Additionally, the city elects six at-large members to Niagara Regional Council.

St. Catharines Ward Map


Four-term incumbent mayor Doug Craig is seeking re-election in Cambridge. Craig was re-elected in 2010 with 48% of the vote, defeating former city councillor Linda Whetham and former Wellington County Councillor and Tory Andrew Johnson. The three candidates will all be running again this time, in addition to four other candidates, unemployed Paul Tavares, realtor Sardool Bhogal, businesswoman Sandra Hill and teacher Harpinder Singh.

Cambridge city council consists of eight city councillors representing the eight wards in the city. Additionally city council consists of two Waterloo regional councillors who are elected at-large.
Cambridge ward map


In Kingston, one-term mayor Mark Gerretsen is calling it quits, allowing the city to have an open race to replace him. There are six candidates running for mayor, but a recent poll suggests its a three-horse race between three city councillors, one-term Trillium councillor Bryan Paterson Paterson, four term Cataraqui District councillor Rick Downes and two term Lakeside District councillor Dorothy Hector. Downes is a New Democrat, while the other two candidates are more conservative leaning.

Kingston City Council consists of 12 councillors representing 12 districts in the city. For this election, there will be a new district map, but the number of councillors remains the same.
New Kingston District Map


There will be an open race for mayor of Whitby, as current mayor Pat Perkins will be running for the Conservatives in the upcoming by-election in the riding of Whitby—Oshawa. The most high profile candidate running to replace Perkins is long-time town and regional councillor Don Mitchell, the only councillor running. Also running is the aptly named businesswoman Ros Whitby, civil engineer Lumy Omat, civil servant Donna Butler and Bob Hartley, who works in customer service.

Whitby Town Council is represented by four town councillors representing the ward wards in the town. Additionally, council consists of three Durham regional councillors who are elected at large.

Whitby ward map


In Guelph, two term incumbent mayor Karen Farbridge is in trouble of losing her job. The progressive leaning mayor is primarily being challenged by rookie Ward 4 city councillor Cam Guthrie. Forum Research conducted a poll in August which showed Guthrie leading Farbridge 36% to 21% with 36% Undecided. Guthrie's strenght comes primarily from the city's conservative leaning voters. The race between Farbridge and Guthrie has been a fierce battle and has made headlines for being “toxic”. One of the more interesting highlights from the campaign is an attack ad created by the Farbridge campaign showing a photo of Guthrie with an acquaintance of mine, Michael Sona, who is notable for being convicted of electoral fraud for his alleged involvement in the robocall scandal. Sona was the communications director for the Conservatives in Guelph in the 2011 election. Guthrie labelled the ad as a “character assassination”.

Guelph City Council consists of 12 members, two each from the city's six wards.
Guelph ward map


Longtime major Steve Parish is running for re-elction yet again. He has been mayor of the municipality since 1995. Parish is used to little competition, in 2010 he was re-elected with 79% of the vote. Running against Parish this time is businessman Goolam “Tony” Hoosain and tax consultant Waran Vaithilingam.

Ajax is divided into four wards, each of which elect a town councillor. Additionally, the town elects two councillors, one representing wards 1 and 2, and another representing wards 3 and 4.
Ajax ward map

Thunder Bay

Rookie mayor Keith Hobbs is facing a serious challenge from former Liberal MP Ken Boshcoff, who also served as mayor from 1997 to 2003, and currently serves as a city councillor. Another serious challenge comes from former CBC journalist Shane Judge.

Thunder Bay is divided into seven wards, each of which elects one city councillor. Additionally, city council is made up of five councillors who are elected at-large.
Thunder Bay ward map


Two-term incumbent mayor and former NDP MPP Randy Hope is running for re-election in this Southwestern Ontario municipality. Hope is the frontrunner in the race, but he is being challenged by five other candidates. The only one which as political experience is Chatham Ward councillor Marjorie Crew, who has served on council since 2006.

Chatham-Kent was formed by the amalgamation of the City of Chatham and the surrounding municipalities in Kent County in 1998. The current ward structure lumps all of Chatham into one ward which elects six councillors, while the rural parts of the municipality are divided into five wards, each of which elect two councillors each, except for South Kent, which elects three councillors. 
Chatham-Kent ward map


Two-term incumbent mayor Brenda Halloran is calling it quits, leaving the race for mayor of the city open. The race to replace her is between two main candidates, former TV weatherman Dave MacDonald and BlackBerry executive Dave Jaworsky. Defence lawyer Erika Traub has also been characterize as one of the main candidates.

Waterloo is divided into seven wards, each of which elects a single city councillor. Additionally, the city elects two people to Waterloo Regional Council.
Waterloo ward map


Brantford is headed by Liberal mayor Chris Friel, who has held the position from 1994 to 2003 and since 2010. A poll conducted by PrimeContact Group showed Friel looks like he will be re-elected, as he was ahead of the pack in the poll at 23%. The next closest candidate was Ward 1 councillor Jan Vanderstelt at 15%. Former Tory candidate Michael St. Amant was third in the poll at 13%, while Ward 4 councillor Dave Wrobel was at 12%. Also running of note is John Turmel, who is running in his Guiness Book of World Record 83rd election.

Brantford is divided into five wards, which have been re-drawn for this election. Each ward elects two members to Brantford City Council.
New Brantford ward map


The race for mayor of Pickering is a re-match from 2010 between incumbent Dave Ryan and Maurice Brenner. Ryan beat Brenner 52% to 43% in 2010. Ryan has been mayor of the city since 2003. Brenner is a former city councillor. Ryan is seen as more conservative, while Brenner is more progressive leaning.

Pickering is divided into three wards. Each ward elects a city councillor and a Durham regional councillor, who also sits on city council.

Pickering ward map


Rookie mayor Adrian Foster is facing strong competition from John O'Toole, who represented the area at Queen's Park as a Tory MPP from 1995 until resigning in earlier this year.

Clarington is divided into four wards, each electing one municipal councillor. Additionally, the municipality elects two Durham regional councillors, one representing wards 1 & 2 and the other representing wards 3 & 4. Regional councillors also serve on town council.
Clarington ward map


Milton is a very different place than when its mayor, Gordon Krantz, was firs elected to that position in 1980. According to the last census, it was the fastest growing municipality in the province growing from 54,000 people in 2006 to 84,000 in 2011. Milton had 28,000 people when Krantz was first elected as mayor. Krantz is running for re-election yet again, and is facing appliance repairman Stan Lazarski and realtor Al Volpe, who ran in 2010, winning 9% of the vote, 51 points behind Krantz.

Milton is divided into 8 wards, each electing one town councillor. Additionally, Milton elects two Halton regional councillors, one representing wards 1, 6, 7 and 8, and the other representing wards 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Milton ward map

Other races:

Niagara Falls: Mayor Jim Diodati faces political neophytes Connie Topolinsky, Joseph Mikos and Ringo Beam.
Newmarket: Mayor Tony Van Bynen faces Chris Campbell and Elvis impersonator and perennial Progressive Canadian candidate Dorian Baxter.
Peterborough: Mayor Daryl Bennett, a Tory faces Alan Wilson, Maryan Monsef, Tom Young, Patti S. Peeters and Terry LeBlanc.
Sault Ste. Marie: Mayor Debbie Amaroso faces former Liberal candidate Christian Provenzano as well as Heather Cook, Austin Williams, Robin Coull and Ted Johnston.
Kawartha Lakes: Mayor Ric McGee is not running for re-election. Councillors John Macklem and Donna Villemarie head a list of six candidates to replace McGee.
Sarnia: Mayor Mike Bradley, a Liberal faces off against James Joseph Carpento, Jake Cherski and Fred Ingham.
Norfolk County: Mayor Dennis Travale faces long-time councillor Charlie Luke and retired nurse Jim Miller.
Caledon: Mayor Marolyn Morrison is not running for re-election. Running to replace her are regional councillor Allan Thompson, former regional councillors Ian Sinclair and Nancy Stewart and businessman Gary Cascone.
Halton Hills: Mayor Rick Bonnette faces municipal planner Sally Stull, who is embroiled in a legal dispute with the municipality.
North Bay: Mayor Al McDonald, a former Tory MPP faces challengers Harvey C. Villneff, Greg A. Gray and Daniel Seguin.
Aurora: Mayor Geoff Dawe takes on councillor John Gallo. Dawe boasts endorsements from Belinda Stronach and former Tory MPP Frank Klees.
Welland: Mayor Barry Sharpe faces city councillor Frank Campion, who ran for the PCs in this year's provincial election and fringe candidate John Watt.
Belleville: Mayor Neil Ellis is not running for re-election. There are two city councillors running for mayor, Taso Christopher and Pat Culahne. Other credible candidates include Richard Davis Courneyea, Bill Glisky, Lonnie Herrington and Jill Raycroft.
Cornwall: Mayor Bob Kilger, a former Liberal MP faces former city councillor Leslie O'Shaughnessy and gonzo journalist Jamie Gilcig.
Haldimand County: Mayor Ken Hewitt faces weak opposition from John Trainer, Marnie Knight and Kevin Smith.
Georgina: Mayor Robert Grossi is going against former town councillor Margaret Quirk (nee Jordan) and John Ancuta.
Timmins: Mayor Tom Laughren is not running for re-election. Running to replace him are city councillors Steve Black and Todd Lever and 2010 candidate Allan R. Manchester.
Quinte West: Mayor John Williams is also not running for re-election. Among the candidates to replace him are city councillors Jim Harrison and Terry Cassidy and former councillor Sandra Carter.
St. Thomas: Mayor Heather Jackson is being challenged by city aldermen Cliff Barwick and Mark Cosens.
Woodstock: Mayor Pat Sobeski, a former Tory MP faces off against Trevor T. Birtch and Michael Harding.
Whitchurch-Stouffville: Mayor Wayne Emmerson is not running for re-election. Running to replace him are councillors Phil Bannon and Richard Barlet. Also running are Justin Altmann, Arnnold Neufeldt-Fast Will Reodica.
Brant: Mayor Ron Eddy, faces former county councillor Roy Haggart and businessman Shawn Pratt, who also ran in 2006 and 2010.

We will see who the winners are after the polls close at 8pm.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Alberta provincial by-elections Monday

There will be four provincial by-elections in Alberta on Monday to replace outgoing members of the Legislative Assembly. Three of the by-elections will be in the Calgary ridings of Calgary-Elbow, Calgary-Foothills and Calgary-West, while the fourth by-election will be in the riding of Edmonton-Whitemud. All four ridings elected Progressive Conservative MLAs in the 2012 provincial election, and with generally safe margins at that. These by-elections were called by Alberta's new Premier Jim Prentice, who won the Tory leadership race in early September. Prentice won despite not holding a seat in the legislature, but is running in one of the by-elections, in Calgary-Foothills. Additionally, when Prentice named his cabinet, he chose two people who were also not members of the Legislative Assembly who will also be running in Monday's by-elections.  Prentice became Premier following the resignation of the scandal-ridden Alison Redford in March.  Dave Hancock, the now former MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud served as Premier until Prentice was overwhelmingly elected as leader six months later. Since there have been no by-elections since the provincial election in 2012, these four will be the first test for the governing Progressive Conservative Party—almost a midterm, of sorts.


This riding, located southwest of Calgary's downtown, was represented by Premier Redford from the 2008 election until resigning the seat in August. She served as Premier of the province from 2011 until March of 2014. Redford is not the only Premier to represent the riding, as Ralph Klein held the seat from 1989 to 2007. The riding has voted in the Progressive Conservatives in every election since its creation in 1971, except for the by-election to replace Klein in 2007. In that race, the waning popularity  of the Tories was enough to give Liberal candidate Craig Cheffins a surprise 800-vote victory over his PC challenger, Brian Heninger. However, just 9 months later, Cheffins lost to Redford in the 2008 general election, by an even smaller margin of 400 votes.  Redford easily cruised to victory in the 2012 election, thanks in part to a collapsed Liberal vote, as Liberal voters went to the Red Tory to stop the threat of the more right wing Wildrose Party. In the end, the Wildrose Party candidate James Cole finished in a distant second to Redford, losing by nearly 6000 votes.

MLAs (since 1959)

Calgary Glenmore
* E.S. Watkins, Prog. Cons. (1959-1963)
* W.D. Dickie, Liberal (1963-1969); Prog. Cons. (1969-1971)

* D.J. Russell, Prog. Cons. (1971-1989)
* R.P. Klein, Prog. Cons. (1989-2007)

* Craig Cheffins, Liberal (2007-2008)
* Ms. A.M. Redford, Prog. Cons. (2008-2014)

Calgary-Elbow contains a number of wealthy neighbourhoods located adjacent to downtown, including Altadore, Mount Royal and Lincoln Park. The Mount Royal area is particularly wealthy, with a median household income of $250,000. The riding is named for the Elbow River, which flows through the riding from the Glenmore Reservoir to just before it crosses under 4 St.

Calgary-Elbow 2012 election results by polling division
Calgary-Elbow 2012 election results by neighbourhood
Wealth is the biggest determiner in voting habits in this riding. Historically in Liberal vs. PC races, the Liberals have won in the poorer parts of the riding, such as South Calgary, while the Tories have dominated the wealthier neighbourhoods.  In 2012, both poor and rich alike united behind Redford, who won all but two polls in the riding. In fact, she won a majority of the vote in every neighbourhood. Overall, the 58% she won in the seat was the best mark for her party in the entire city. Her best neighbourhoods were still the wealthier parts of the riding, Elbow Park being her best, which gave her 65% of the vote. Her worst neighbourhood was Glamorgan, in the far western tip of the riding, where she still managed to get 51%. The Wildrose Party managed to win one poll in Glamorgan, but their best neighbourhood was the Bel-Aire/Mayfair/Meadowlark Park area in the southeast corner of the riding. There, they won 35% of the vote, but no polls. For all of the more left leaning parties (Liberals, NDP, Alberta Party and the Evergreen Party), Calgary South was their strongest neighbourhood; their combined vote, however, still would not have been good enough for even second place.

With a surprise by-election victory for the Liberals in 2007, it is entirely possible that Calgary-Elbow could come up with another electoral surprise on Monday. Recent province-wide polls show the Progressive Conservatives at least 12 points down from the 44% they won in the 2012 election, though polls during that campaign proved to be hugely inaccurate.  A 12 point drop in support in Calgary-Elbow would not be enough for the Tories to lose the seat. With the Liberals stagnating in the polls, it seems unlikely for the Grits to pick this one up. The only other party with a chance of winning would be Wildrose, but they may be too socially conservative for this wealthy district.

The Tories are running Gordon Dirks, a former cabinet minister in his native Saskatchewan, who Prentice appointed as Minister of Education, despite Dirks not yet having a seat in the assembly. Dirks is a former teacher, school board trustee and pastor, who has faced some criticism from the gay community because of the theological principles of Dirks' former church. Wildrose is running military commander and lawyer John Fletcher, the Liberals are running lawyer Susan Wright, the NDP is running Stephanie McLean (another lawyer), and the fledgling Alberta Party is running their new leader, Greg Clark.


In the northwest corner of the city lies the riding of Calgary-Foothills, a suburban riding containing the neighbourhoods of Edgemont, Hamptons, Hidden Valley and the brand new neighbourhood of Symonds Valley on the fringes of the city. The riding was represented by Progressive Conservative-turned-Independent Len Webber from 2004 until he resigned last month after winning the federal Conservative nomination in the new riding of Calgary Confederation. Webber left the Progressive Conservatives in March to protest the scandal ridden government of Alison Redford.

The riding is generally upper middle class, and has been a Tory stronghold for most of its existence. Since the riding was created in 1971, it has seen only one close election when, in the 1989 election, Tory candidate Pat Nelson beat Liberal Harvey Locke by 500 votes in a three way race. In every other election in the riding's history, the Tories have won handily. In 2012, Webber beat Wildrose Party challenger Dustin Nau by over 2,000 votes.

MLAs (since 1959)

Calgary Bowness
* C.E. Johnston, Social Credit (1959-1967)
* L.F. Werry, Prog. Cons. (1967-1971)

* L.F. Werry, Prog. Cons. (1971-1973) continued
* S.A. McCrae, Prog. Cons. (1973-1982)
* Ms. J.S. Koper, Prog. Cons. (1982-1988)
* Mrs. P. Nelson, Prog. Cons. (1989-2004)
* L.W. Webber, Prog. Cons. (2004-2014)

In 2012, all but one poll in Calgary-Foothills went to Webber. Just one poll, in Symons Valley, went to the Wildrose. When the Liberals were somewhat competitive in 2008, the Grits did quite well in the Edgemont neighbourhood, which has a large Chinese population. In 2012, this was the Liberals' best neighbourhood, although they only won 11% of the vote there. Hamptons has been the most conservative neighbourhood in the riding in recent elections, including in 2012 when the Tories won 56% of the neighbourhood's vote. Their worst neighbourhood in 2012 was Hidden Valley, where they still won 51% of the vote. Hidden Valley was the best neighbourhood for Wildrose, but they still only managed 35%; on a side-note, Hidden Valley also has a large immigrant population.

Calgary-Foothills 2012 election results by polling division
Calgary-Foothills 2012 election results by neighbourhood

Calgary-Foothills is the riding in which Jim Prentice has decided to run. Running for the Wildrose Party is Kathy Macdonald, a retired police officer. The Liberals are running Robert Prcic, a businessman who was the Liberal candidate in Calgary-Northwest in 2012 (by the way, that was not a spelling mistake, his name is actually spelled Prcic). The NDP is running consulting firm manager Jennifer Burgess.

It is unlikely in my opinion that the Tories will lose this seat. The PC Party will be putting a lot of effort into ensuring their leader is able to win the riding so he can take his seat in the Alberta Legislature. The Tories won the seat by 20 points in 2012 and are unlikely to loose that much support in the by-election.


Located in Calgary's affluent and suburban west end is the aptly named riding of Calgary-West. It is rectangular in shape and contains the neighbourhoods of Signal Hill, Strathcona Park, Christie Park, Aspen Woods, Springbank Hill and Discovery Ridge. The latter three neighbourhoods are especially wealthy, as all have median household incomes in the $150,000 range. The riding has been vacant since the end of September when its MLA, Conservative Ken Hughes, resigned to take a job in the private sector. Hughes, a former Tory MP for the southwestern Alberta riding of MacLeod, had only been an MLA since 2012.

The riding has gone Tory for much of its history, though it did go Liberal in 1993 with the election of Danny Dalla-Longa. From 1967 to 1986, the riding was represented by former Premier Peter Lougheed, who often won the seat with massive margins. The riding has been consistently conservative since the Tories won the seat back in 1997. In 2012, Hughes easily defeated the Wildrose Party candidate, Andrew Constantinidis, by over 2000 votes.

MLAs (since 1959)

*D.S. Fleming, Social Credit (1959-1967)
*E.P. Lougheed, Prog. Cons. (1967-1986)
*Ms. Elaine McCoy, Prog. Cons. (1986-1993)

*D. Dalla-Longa, Liberal (1993-1997)
*Ms. Karen Kryczka, Prog. Cons. (1997-2004)
*R. Liepert, Prog. Cons. (2004-2012)
*K.G. Hughes, Prog. Cons. (2012-2014)

Out of all four by-elections being held on Monday, it is this riding that saw the closest result in 2012. Hughes still won almost every poll in the riding, but the Wildrose Party still managed to win six polls, and tied in another. Half of the polls that they won were in the neighbourhood of Signal Hill, which was the best part of the riding for the WRP (winning 37%). For the Tories, their vote was fairly evenly distributed across the riding. There wasn't too much of a difference between their best area, Aspen Woods (where they won 54%), and their worst neighbourhood, Christie Park0( where they won 48%). Strathcona Park, in the riding's northeast corner, was the Liberals' most successful neighbourhood, as well as for the NDP and the Evergreen Party.  The combined support for all three parties, however, was far below the mark set by the Wildrose Party, even though it was the neighbourhood with the Wildrose Party's worst showing.

Calgary-West 2012 election results by polling division
Calgary-West 2012 election results by neighbourhood

If there is any riding that the Wildrose Party is able to win on Monday, it will be Calgary-West; this end of the city is very conservative. After all, the area has backed ultra conservative MP Rob Anders consistently over the years. If the Tories do drop 12 points in this riding, and only one of those points goes to the Wildrose Party, then Wildrose will win this seat. In other words, only a 7% two-party swing is needed for the Tories to lose this seat.

For the Tories, this is the only one of the four by-elections where they are not running a cabinet minister (or the Premier himself), and are in fact running hereto unknown police officer Mike Ellis. The Wildrose Party challenger is Sheila Taylor, who already holds office as a public school trustee. The Liberals are running lawyer David Khan while the NDP is running Brian Malkinson, a diesel heavy equipment supplier technician; Malkinson was the NDP's candidate in Calgary-Northwest in 2012.

My prediction is that Wildrose picks up this seat in a close race.


The lone by-election outside of Calgary will be in the riding of Edmonton-Whitemud, located in southwest Edmonton. Edmonton-Whitemud is the wealthiest riding in the city, and saw the largest Progressive Conservative percentage n the entire province in 2012 when Dave Hancock won the seat with 61% of the vote. As mentioned, Hancock served as Premier of Alberta between March and September, when he resigned his seat. The riding is roughly triangular in shape, being bordered by the North Saskatchewan River on the west, Whitemud Creek on the east and Anthony Henday Drive on the south. The riding is home to many different neighbourhoods, the largest being the new Terwillegar subdivision. The riding also includes the Riverbend area (Henderson Estates, Rhatigan Ridge), which is the wealthiest neighbourhood in the city.

While the 2012 result in the riding may give the riding the illusion of being a safe Tory seat, it has seen many close races over the years. The Tories have held it for most of the riding's existence, but the Liberals did hold it from 1989 to 1997. When the Liberals won the riding with candidate Percy Wickman in 1989, it was at the expense of the province's Premier, Don Getty. Getty, whose party still won a majority government, had to ask a member of his caucus to step aside so that he could run in a by-election to enter the Assembly. The Liberals won the seat again in 1993 with a different candidate, Mike Percy, who defeated Hancock in his first attempt to win the seat. In 1997, the Liberals weren't so lucky, with yet another candidate running, Corky Meyer, who lost to Hancock by 2000 votes. Hancock has easily won in every election since, except in 2004 when he defeated Liberal Donna Smith by just 900 votes.

MLAs (since 1959)

Strathcona West
*R.H. McKinnon, Social Credit (1959-1967)
*D.R. Getty, Prog. Cons. (1967-1971)

*D.R. Getty, Prog. Cons. (1971-1979) continued
*P. Knaak, Prog. Cons. (1979-1982)
*R.K. Alexander, Prog. Cons. (1982-1985)
*D.R. Getty, Prog. Cons. (1985-1989) 2nd time

*P.D. Wickman, Liberal (1989-1993)
*M.B. Percy, Liberal (1993-1997)

*D.G. Hancock, Prog. Cons. (1997-2014)

Hancock's 60% victory in 2012 is fairly low for “the strongest riding for a winning party in an election”, especially in Alberta. Much of the province's “strongest Tory” seats went for the populist Wildrose Party in 2012, leaving wealthier urban ridings like Edmonton-Whitemund to become the safest Tory seats in the province. Wildrose did finish 2nd in 2012, but their candidate, Ian Crawford, finished over 7000 votes behind Hancock with 16% of the vote. With a margin like that, it would come as no surprise that Hancock won every single polling division in 2012. In past elections, the poorer neighbourhoods of the riding (Terwillegar Town and Ramsay Heights in particular) have gone Liberal, while the wealthier parts of the riding have been more conservative.

Edmonton-Whitemud 2012 election results by polling division
Edmonton-Whitemud 2012 election results by neighbourhood

In 2012, Hancock won a majority of votes in every neighbourhood of the riding. His strongest neighbourhood was the wealthy Bulyea Heights / Ogilvie Ridge area in the east central part of the riding, where he won 65% of the vote. His worst neighbourhood was the Bradner Gardens / Ramsay Heights area in the north end of the riding, which is also the riding's poorest neighbourhood. There, Hancock won 54% of the vote. For Wildrose, their strongest area was the Carter Crest / Leger area in the central part of the riding, where they won 19%. For both the Liberals and NDP, their best neighbourhood was Bradner Gardens / Ramsay Heights, where they together won 23% of the vote, more than the Wildrose candidate.

Running for the Tories in Edmonton-Whitemud is former mayor Stephen Mandel, who Prentice appointed as Minister of Health last month. Mandel served as mayor of Edmonton from 2004 to 2013.  It is a fairly safe assumption in my opinion that Mandel will easily win. The question is, who will finish second? If one extrapolates current poll numbers, then the Wildrose Party, the Liberals, and the currently surging NDP all have a chance to finish 2nd in the high teens. Wildrose is running Tim Grover, a business owner, the Liberals are running registered nurse Donna Wilson, while the NDP is running Bob Turner, a doctor at the Cross Cancer Institute.


For the Tories, a victory on Monday night would require maintaining all four ridings; losing any one of them would be a blow to the Premiership of Jim Prentice. For the Wildrose Party, a victory would be winning just one of the four ridings. It is unlikely that either the Liberals or the NDP will win any of the four seats, but a “victory” on election night for either party might just be a second place finish in any seat, but most likely in Edmonton-Whitemud.  We will find out what will happen after the polls close at 8pm (10 Eastern).