Potential NDP gains, losses in the next federal election

Most recent polls suggest the NDP is positioned for a modest increase in vote share and a few additional seats in the next federal election. But where will those votes be gained, and what seats might the party add? Here are four ridings where the NDP might enjoy success, along with two others where it might suffer setbacks.

POTENTIAL GAINS:

Port Moody-Coquitlam

This B.C. riding was decided by the razor-thin margin of 153 votes in 2019, when Conservative Nelly Shin edged-out the NDP’s Bonita Zarillo. Both will be back in the next election, setting up what should be another nail-biter in a riding previously held by the New Democrats.

A longtime Coquitlam city councillor, Zarillo is known to local voters and may benefit from Premier John Horgan’s high approval ratings.

She might also gain traction thanks to Erin O’Toole’s uneven leadership, which has caused rifts within the Conservative party and may suppress its local vote.

Windsor-Tecumseh

Former MP Cheryl Hardcastle will try to reclaim this riding for the NDP after coming up 630 votes short in 2019.

She’ll no doubt be hoping voters have forgiven her for controversial remarks caught on tape in 2014, but leaked to media less than two weeks before voters went to the polls last election.

Before Hardcastle’s 2015-2019 term, the NDP’s Joe Comartin held Windsor-Tecumseh for 15 consecutive years. Despite some plant closures in the area, the riding remains home to a significant automotive parts industry and has a strong base of traditional labour support.

Hamilton East-Stoney Creek

Liberal incumbent Bob Bratina’s decision not to seek re-election gives the NDP an excellent opportunity to make this Ontario riding “double orange” once again.

Provincially, Hamilton East-Stoney Creek has been NDP since its creation in 2007. And the former Hamilton East riding it incorporated was CCF/NDP territory for 41 of the previous 48 years.

The federal track record tilts far more in the Liberals’ favour, however, with Hamilton East being the old stomping grounds of party legends Sheila Copps and John Munro. Nevertheless, Wayne Marston was able to break through for the NDP in 2006 and held the riding until 2015. That’s when Bratina — a former Hamilton mayor and Tiger-Cats broadcaster — rode Trudeaumania 2.0 all the way to the House of Commons.

NDP candidate Nick Milanovic is a labour lawyer who, like many in the riding, grew up in a working-class home with immigrant parents. He ran here in 2019, finishing a distant second with 14,930 votes compared to Bratina’s 20,112.

But with the exit of the popular incumbent and more name recognition thanks to his previous run, Milanovic stands a good chance of returning Hamilton East-Stoney Creek to the federal NDP fold.

Halifax

Former provincial and federal NDP leader Alexa McDonough won this seat in 1997 and held it until 2008. She was replaced as MP by party colleague Megan Leslie, who represented Halifax until her surprise defeat by Liberal Andy Fillmore in 2015.

Had Green support not spiked dramatically in 2019, Halifax might have gone orange once again. Fillmore looked vulnerable throughout the campaign and ended up shedding more than nine per cent of his previous vote total. But few of those votes went to the NDP, which was down six per cent from 2015. It seems most of the lost Liberal votes went instead to the Green Party, which increased its ballot share by more than 11 per cent.

If Green support sags this time around, and if Halifax Needham MLA Lisa Roberts is able to connect with voters outside the relatively small provincial district she’s represented since 2016, this could be a pick-up for the NDP.

POTENTIAL LOSSES:

Nunavut

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq’s decision not to re-offer throws this race wide open.

All three major parties have represented Nunavut more than once since the riding was created in 1979.

No candidates have been nominated yet, but whoever carries the parties’ banners, this will be one to watch.

Hamilton Mountain

An NDP stronghold for the past 15 years, this riding is in play owing largely to the fact its incumbent is stepping away and his proposed replacement, Malcolm Allen, has been parachuted in.

Allen served on Pelham town council from 2003-2008 and represented Welland in the House of Commons from 2008-2015. As the NDP standard-bearer in Hamilton Mountain, he’ll have to fend off repeat Liberal challenger Bruno Uggenti, who lost by just over 3,000 votes in 2019.

The outcome in this riding will depend in no small way on how voters respond to an NDP candidate who spent 12 years representing constituents in a community that’s several districts and more than 50 km away.

(Image by festivio from Pixabay).