John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail):
Canada does not have one national election. Practically, Canada has five regional elections on the same day, producing a parliament and government. Although there are local variations – rural versus urban, northern versus southern – common elements define the electoral landscape in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia, distinguishing each region from the others.
Here, then, is a political geography of Canada, at the launch of the 42nd general election.
• Atlantic Canada:
Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are strong throughout Atlantic Canada and should pick up seats on election night. (…) Although polls show the Liberals with a healthy lead over the other two parties, the New Democrats are also hoping to make gains, though (…) the defeat of the NDP government in Nova Scotia could hurt the party federally.”
“If Atlantic Canada is a Liberal bastion, the NDP owns Quebec. (…) The Conservatives may gain a few seats in the Quebec region, but no more. The Bloc Québécois shows no real signs of revival (…) and Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals are struggling to break out of Montreal. (…) That said, Quebec is a volatile province whose voters can stampede without warning in the most surprising directions. So stay tuned.
While the NDP is strong in the North, and the Liberals and NDP contest the city centres, the Conservatives are dominant in rural Ontario and in the dozens of suburban ridings that can swing an election one way or another. (…) The victory of Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals provincially last year confirms ‘that a majority of the province is closer to a social liberal outlook’ than to anything being offered by the Conservatives (…). Traditionally, Ontario voters seeking to oust a Conservative government rush to the Liberal Party. But the strength of the NDP in Quebec and in national polls may cause them to reconsider (…). Voters are going to be looking to see who they think can win (…). However, the Conservatives remain strongly competitive in Ontario. (…) Stephen Harper’s team has built up a sophisticated ground game in the suburban ridings outside Toronto known as the 905.
• The Prairies:
Manitoba is not Saskatchewan is not Alberta (…). Nonetheless, the Conservatives are popular in all three provinces, especially in rural areas, while the Liberals and NDP are both hoping to make gains in cities from Winnipeg to Edmonton. (…) The Liberals have high hopes of winning Winnipeg South, Winnipeg South Centre, possibly St. Boniface (…). (T)he NDP is hoping for gains in both Regina and Saskatoon (and) they hope to expand their footprint in Edmonton, riding the coattails of Rachel Notley’s provincial win. The Liberals believe they have a chance of taking Calgary Centre.
• British Columbia:
B.C. is a definitely a three-way fight (…). (…) The interior of the province is expected to remain solidly Conservative. There is a strange synchronicity to Vancouver and Toronto. (…) Downtown ridings are Liberal/NDP contests, with the Conservatives becoming dominant in the suburbs. As goes Greater Toronto, so goes the Lower Mainland. That, at least, has been the case in the past. But political geography is subject to shifts.