Fri. Apr 16th, 2021

The Trudeau government will present a budget — the first-ever budget in this 30-month-old Parliament — on April 19 and all the buzz in the national capital is that this will be a budget that will provoke a federal general election in the midst of a pandemic.

Opinions are decidedly mixed as to whether we will actually see an election this spring.

Read more:
Could gummed up bills in the House of Commons trigger a federal election?

In any event, all parties are on what is essentially an election footing and whenever a general election is called, each party will have slightly different goals.

The Trudeau Liberals want to move from minority rule to majority rule. The O’Toole Conservatives will be happy with any scenario in which they can move across the aisle of the House of Commons to the government benches.

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Jagmeet Singh’s NDP must surely know its most realistic goal is moving up to become Parliament’s third party and knocking the Bloc Quebecois from third to fourth spot in the House. The BQ, of course, can never win government and while it once was the Official Opposition, it cannot realistically hope to be so elevated again and so, under leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, it will seek to maintain and possibly strengthen its position as Parliament’s third party.

The Green Party has just three seats in a legislature where you need 12 seats to be recognized as an official party (and access financial and other resources available to officially recognized parties). Those close to new Green leader Anamie Paul have lofty ambitions of turning those orange NDP seats to green but, in the current environment, holding on to those three seats while getting leader Paul elected would surely be seen as an accomplishment by that partisans.

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So where do each of those parties hunt for the seats they need to accomplish their objectives?

The first place to look is the 2019 election to see where the close races were, where the runaways were, and where each party came a close second and might be expected to close the gap in the country’s 44th general election.

Read more:
House of Commons committee urges Trudeau not to call election amid COVID-19

Let’s look first at the closest races from 2019.

You might make a couple of observations. First: The winning Liberals were involved in a lot of squeakers; and, second: they won a lot of them.

Here are the 25 closest races in the 2019 election. For all of the tables on this page, I give the margin of victory in terms of raw votes followed by the percentage points which separate the first-place finisher by the second-place finisher. So, in this first table, Conservative Nelly Shin was the narrowest of victors, beating her second-place finisher by 153 votes or 0.3 percentage points better than her runner-up.

Closest races in 2019

PROV RIDING WINNER MARGIN
BC Port Moody–Coquitlam Shin, Nelly (CPC) 153 0.3%
ON Richmond Hill Jowhari, Majid (LPC) 212 0.4%
QC Quebec Duclos, Jean-Yves (LPC) 325 0.6%
QC Hochelaga Martinez Ferrada, Soraya (LPC) 328 0.6%
BC Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam McKinnon, Ron (LPC) 390 0.7%
ON Kitchener–Conestoga Louis, Tim (LPC) 365 0.7%
YT Yukon Bagnell, Larry (LPC) 153 0.7%
NS Cumberland–Colchester Zann, Lenore (LPC) 453 1.0%
QC Sherbrooke Briere, Elisabeth (LPC) 609 1.0%
NB Miramichi–Grand Lake Finnigan, Pat (LPC) 370 1.1%
ON Windsor–Tecumseh Kusmierczyk, Irek (LPC) 629 1.1%
BC South Okanagan–West Kootenay Cannings, Richard (NDP) 796 1.2%
QC Chateauguay–Lacolle Shanahan, Brenda (LPC) 639 1.2%
QC Argenteuil–La Petite-Nation Lauzon, Stephane (LPC) 729 1.4%
QC Shefford Larouche, Andreanne (BQ) 898 1.4%
QC Gaspesie–Les Iles-de-la-Madeleine Lebouthillier, Diane (LPC) 637 1.6%
ON King–Vaughan Schulte, Deb (LPC) 1141 1.8%
QC Chicoutimi–Le Fjord Martel, Richard (CPC) 834 1.9%
ON Aurora–Oak Ridges–Richmond Hill Alleslev, Leona (CPC) 1060 2.0%
ON Bay of Quinte Ellis, Neil (LPC) 1449 2.3%
QC Trois-Rivieres Charbonneau, Louise (BQ) 1466 2.4%
BC Cloverdale–Langley City Jansen, Tamara (CPC) 1394 2.5%
QC Longueuil–Charles-LeMoyne Romanado, Sherry (LPC) 1320 2.5%
QC Berthier–Maskinonge Perron, Yves (BQ) 1502 2.6%
ON Flamborough–Glanbrook Sweet, David (CPC) 1652 2.6%
ON Davenport Dzerowicz, Julie (LPC) 1439 2.7%

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On the flip side of this are the 25 ‘laughers’ in 2019 — the races where the winner by the largest percentage margins. On this score, the Conservatives were triumphant, sweeping the list of the 25 biggest blowouts. It’s one reason why the Conservatives, under Andrew Scheer, won the popular vote, while the Liberals, under Justin Trudeau, won more seats.

Where Conservatives won, they tended to run up the score. But this is a problem for the Conservatives because whenever you see a poll with a “national number” for the Conservatives, you have to consider how overweight the party is in Alberta and Saskatchewan. This is what is known as having an inefficient vote. Because the support for other parties is spread out more evenly across the country, a small boost in the national polling number could translate into real gains in the number of ridings won. But the Conservatives need a much bigger boost in their national polling number because their support is more concentrated.

Here’s the list of the biggest wins, by percentage margin over the second-place finisher, in the 2019 election:

Biggest wins in 2019

PROV RIDING WINNER MARGIN
AB Battle River–Crowfoot Kurek, Damien CPC 50124 79.9%
AB Bow River Shields, Martin CPC 43106 77.8%
AB Lakeland Stubbs, Shannon CPC 44586 77.2%
AB Grande Prairie–Mackenzie Warkentin, Chris CPC 46953 76.6%
SK Souris–Moose Mountain Kitchen, Robert CPC 31853 76.5%
AB Foothills Barlow, John CPC 50016 75.9%
AB Yellowhead Soroka, Gerald CPC 42066 74.8%
AB Red Deer–Mountain View Dreeshen, Earl CPC 49819 72.8%
AB Peace River–Westlock Viersen, Arnold CPC 37773 72.6%
SK Cypress Hills–Grasslands Patzer, Jeremy CPC 27474 71.0%
AB Red Deer–Lacombe Calkins, Blaine CPC 47831 70.6%
AB Medicine Hat–Cardston–Warner Motz, Glen CPC 37406 70.1%
AB Fort McMurray–Cold Lake Yurdiga, David CPC 35858 70.0%
AB Sturgeon River–Parkland Lloyd, Dane CPC 46295 67.1%
SK Battlefords–Lloydminster Falk, Rosemarie CPC 23932 66.3%
SK Carlton Trail–Eagle Creek Block, Kelly CPC 29778 65.9%
AB Calgary Shepard Kmiec, Tom CPC 49970 63.6%
SK Yorkton–Melville Wagantall, Cathay CPC 24776 63.4%
AB Calgary Midnapore Kusie, Stephanie CPC 43052 62.9%
AB Sherwood Park–
Fort Saskatchewan
Genuis, Garnett CPC 44733 61.0%
AB Banff–Airdrie Richards, Blake CPC 47079 60.0%
AB Edmonton–Wetaskiwin Lake, Mike CPC 52544 59.8%
MB Portage–Lisgar Bergen, Candice CPC 26821 59.7%
BC Prince George–Peace River
–Northern Rockies
Zimmer, Bob CPC 32082 57.9%
AB Calgary Heritage Benzen, Bob CPC 32760 56.5%
AB Calgary Signal Hill Liepert, Ron CPC 34699 54.5%

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So now let’s break things down by party.

First, it probably makes sense for a party to target ridings where its candidate finished second in 2019. And then the party might look for the closest second-place finishes for a decent high-priority list of ridings at which to aim.

The governing Liberals have 154 seats right now (though it won 157 in 2019) in the 338-seat legislature. It needs to hold on to everything it won in 2019 — including all those close races — and then pick up 15 seats to win its majority.

In 2019, the Liberal candidate finished second:

  • 117 times in the 181 ridings it did not win. That’s a 1st-or-2nd finish rate of 81 per cent. (Only the BQ had a higher rate)
  • Liberals finished second to a Conservative 77 times.
  • Liberals finished second to the BQ 27 times.
  • Liberals finished second to the NDP 12 times.
  • Liberals finished second to one Independent candidate (Jody Wilson-Raybould in Vancouver Granville)

So, here are the 25 closest second-place finishes the Liberals had in 2019:

PROV RIDING WINNER MARGIN
QC Shefford Larouche, Andreanne (BQ) -898 -1.4%
ON Aurora–Oak Ridges–Richmond Hill Alleslev, Leona (CPC) -1060 -2.0%
QC Trois-Rivieres Charbonneau, Louise (BQ) -1466 -2.4%
BC Cloverdale–Langley City Jansen, Tamara (CPC) -1394 -2.5%
ON Flamborough–Glanbrook Sweet, David (CPC) -1652 -2.6%
NS West Nova d’Entremont, Chris (CPC) -1365 -2.9%
ON Niagara Falls Baldinelli, Tony (CPC) -2061 -2.9%
ON Northumberland–Peterborough South Lawrence, Philip (CPC) -2408 -3.5%
ON Windsor West Masse, Brian (NDP) -1922 -3.7%
ON Kenora Melillo, Eric (CPC) -1110 -4.0%
ON Hastings–Lennox and Addington Sloan, Derek (CPC) -2247 -4.2%
QC Longueuil–Saint-Hubert Trudel, Denis (BQ) -2590 -4.3%
QC Riviere-des-Mille-Iles Desilets, Luc (BQ) -2620 -4.4%
BC South Surrey–White Rock Findlay, Kerry-Lynne (CPC) -2618 -4.5%
QC La Prairie Therrien, Alain (BQ) -3203 -5.1%
MB Charleswood–St. James–Assiniboia–Headingley Morantz, Marty (CPC) -2417 -5.2%
ON Hamilton Mountain Duvall, Scott (NDP) -3078 -5.8%
QC Therese-De Blainville Chabot, Louise (BQ) -3498 -5.9%
BC Vancouver Granville Wilson-Raybould, Jody Independent -3177 -6.0%
BC Pitt Meadows–Maple Ridge Dalton, Marc (CPC) -3525 -6.5%
BC Steveston–Richmond East Chiu, Kenny (CPC) -2747 -6.5%
QC Montarville Bergeron, Stephane (BQ) -4305 -7.2%
MB Winnipeg Centre Gazan, Leah (NDP) -2369 -7.4%
QC Abitibi–Baie-James–Nunavik–Eeyou Berube, Sylvie (BQ) -2469 -7.6%
ON Barrie–Springwater–Oro-Medonte Shipley, Doug (CPC) -4176 -7.7%
ON Carleton Poilievre, Pierre (CPC) -5629 -8.1%

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How about the Conservatives? That party won 121 seats in 2019 and now holds 120. Winning a majority means holding everything from 2019 and adding at least 49 more seats — not impossible but a pretty tall order. Still, the Conservatives could possibly form a minority government if it took another 20-25 seats.

The Conservatives finished second:

  • 113 times in the 217 ridings it did not win. So it had a 1st-or-2nd ratio of: 69 per cent.
  • 98 times to the Liberals.
  • 10 times to the NDP
  • 3 times to all three Green Party winners.
  • 2 times to the Bloc Quebecois.

And here are the 25 closest 2nd place finishes for the Conservatives in 2019:

PROV RIDING WINNER MARGIN
ON Richmond Hill Jowhari, Majid (LPC) 212 0.4%
BC Coquitlam–Port Coquitlam McKinnon, Ron (LPC) 390 0.7%
ON Kitchener–Conestoga Louis, Tim (LPC) 365 0.7%
YT Yukon Bagnell, Larry (LPC) 153 0.7%
NS Cumberland–Colchester Zann, Lenore (LPC) 453 1.0%
NB Miramichi–Grand Lake Finnigan, Pat (LPC) 370 1.1%
BC South Okanagan–West Kootenay Cannings, Richard (NDP) 796 1.2%
ON King–Vaughan Schulte, Deb (LPC) 1141 1.8%
ON Bay of Quinte Ellis, Neil (LPC) 1449 2.3%
NS Sydney–Victoria Battiste, Jaime (LPC) 1309 3.2%
NB Fredericton Atwin, Jenica (Green Party) 1629 3.3%
MB Winnipeg South Duguid, Terry (LPC) 1645 3.4%
NB Saint John–Rothesay Long, Wayne (LPC) 1437 3.5%
QC Beauport–Limoilou Vignola, Julie (BQ) 1964 3.8%
BC Fleetwood–Port Kells Hardie, Ken (LPC) 1883 3.8%
ON Niagara Centre Badawey, Vance (LPC) 2305 3.9%
NS Cape Breton–Canso Kelloway, Mike (LPC) 1873 4.3%
ON Peterborough–Kawartha Monsef, Maryam (LPC) 3043 4.3%
ON Newmarket–Aurora Van Bynen, Tony (LPC) 3236 5.2%
BC North Island–Powell River Blaney, Rachel (NDP) 3332 5.3%
PE Egmont Morrissey, Bobby (LPC) 1082 5.3%
ON Thunder Bay–Rainy River Powlowski, Marcus (LPC) 2459 5.9%
NL Bonavista–Burin–Trinity Rogers, Churence (LPC) 2010 6.1%
QC Beauport-Cote-de-Beaupre-Ile d’Orleans-Charlevoix Desbiens, Caroline (BQ) 3363 6.5%
ON Kanata–Carleton McCrimmon, Karen (LPC) 4385 6.5%
ON Kitchener South–Hespeler Tabbara, Marwan (IND) 3506 6.7%

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Now the Bloc Québecois is not, of course, going to ever form a government but it might like to improve its parliamentary position of 32 seats by picking off a few more.

In 2019, the BQ finished second:

  • In 32 of the 32 ridings it did not win for a 1st-or-2nd finish rate of 82 per cent.
  • to the Liberals 23 times.
  • to the Conservatives 10 times.

And so here’s the 10 closest 2nd place finishes for the BQ in 2019 that one might expect would form the basis of the party’s target list in 2020. Note that this list includes four cabinet ministers: Duclos, Lebouthillier, Champagne and Bibeau.

PROV RIDING WINNER MARGIN
QC Quebec Duclos, Jean-Yves (LPC) 325 0.6%
QC Hochelaga Martinez Ferrada, Soraya (LPC) 328 0.6%
QC Chateauguay–Lacolle Shanahan, Brenda (LPC) 639 1.2%
QC Argenteuil–La Petite-Nation Lauzon, Stephane (LPC) 729 1.4%
QC Gaspesie–Les Iles-de-la-Madeleine Lebouthillier, Diane (LPC) 637 1.6%
QC Chicoutimi–Le Fjord Martel, Richard Conservative 834 1.9%
QC Longueuil–Charles-LeMoyne Romanado, Sherry (LPC) 1320 2.5%
QC Brome–Missisquoi Bessette, Lyne (LPC) 2298 3.7%
QC Saint-Maurice–Champlain Champagne, Francois-Philippe (LPC) 3154 5.3%
QC Compton–Stanstead Bibeau, Marie-Claude (LPC) 3160 5.3%

Jagmeet Singh’s NDP would seem, at this point, to be an impossible long shot to become the Official Opposition but if things go Singh’s way, maybe the NDP can leapfrog the BQ to become Parliament’s third party.

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In 2019, the NDP finished second:

  • 68 times in the 314 ridings it did not win for a 1st-or-2nd finish rate of 27 per cent.
  • to the Conservatives 34 times.
  • to the Liberals 31 times.
  • to the Bloc Quebecois 3 times.

So here’s the NDP 10 closest 2nd place finishes, races it must win if it hopes to move the next level:

PROV RIDING WINNER MARGIN
BC Port Moody–Coquitlam Shin, Nelly (CPC) 153 0.3%
QC Sherbrooke Briere, Elisabeth (LPC) 609 1.0%
ON Windsor–Tecumseh Kusmierczyk, Irek (LPC) 629 1.1%
QC Berthier–Maskinonge Perron, Yves (BQ) 1502 2.6%
ON Davenport Dzerowicz, Julie (LPC) 1439 2.7%
BC Burnaby North–Seymour Beech, Terry (LPC) 1585 3.1%
ON Essex Lewis, Chris (CPC) 4671 6.8%
ON Nickel Belt Serre, Marc G (LPC) 3390 6.9%
SK Saskatoon West Redekopp, Brad (CPC) 2889 7.3%
QC Rimouski-Neigette–Temiscouata–Les Basques Blanchette-Joncas, Maxime (BQ) 4264 9.2%

And, finally, the Green Party is really looking just to become an officially recognized party in Parliament for which it must win 12 ridings. It currently holds three. But even winning the next nine could be a steep climb.

The Green Party finished second:

  • Just 7 times in the 335 ridings it did not win for a 1st-or-2nd finish rate of 2.96 per cent.
  • to the Liberals five times.
  • to the NDP twice.

Now, in a 2020 by-election in the riding of Toronto Centre, the current Green Party leader Annamie Paul finished second to the Liberal winner Marci Ien and Paul’s finish was a huge improvement on her third-place on her fourth-place finish in the 2019 general election. Still, in the by-election, Ien beat Paul by more than nine percentage points.

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Our data analysis, though, is based only on 2019 general elections results and so, here are all of the Green Party’s second-place finishes from 2019:

PROV RIDING WINNER MARGIN
BC Victoria Collins, Laurel (NDP) 2382 3.3%
BC Esquimalt–Saanich–Sooke Garrison, Randall (NDP) 5381 7.6%
ON Kitchener Centre Saini, Raj (LPC) 5922 10.6%
PE Malpeque Easter, Wayne (LPC) 3430 14.7%
ON Guelph Longfield, Lloyd (LPC) 11261 14.8%

David Akin is the Chief Political Correspondent for Global News. He has covered six federal elections and 20 provincial elections.




© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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