Canada Votes 2015

Breakdown: First riding-level polls show Conservative support slipping across the country

Advocacy organization Leadnow targets 13 swing ridings in strategic voting campaign
Photo: National Capital Commission

Riding-level polls for a baker’s dozen of Canada’s most hotly contested electoral districts were released Thursday by online advocacy organization Leadnow. They paint a picture of a Conservative government whose support is swiftly evaporating in the face of growing “anyone but Harper” sentiment among Canadians.

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Leadnow, which describes itself as non-partisan but anti-Harper, released the polls in conjunction with the launch of a new campaign called Vote Together, which aims to defeat the Conservatives through strategic voting.

“We’ve identified 72 Conservative swing ridings across the country,” said Amara Possian, Leadnow’s election campaign manager, “places where the Conservatives could win with less than 50 per cent of the vote, and we are helping our half-a-million-person community channel resources into places that matter the most. These 72 ridings will decide whether Harper wins again.”

Targetting 13 ridings for the first phase of the campaign, Leadnow hired Environics Research to conduct telephone surveys of approximately 500 people in each riding. In total, 7,573 Canadians were surveyed between August 15 and 18.

Across all 13 ridings, support for the Conservative government has fallen from 45 per cent in the 2011 election to 31 per cent. That’s a drop of 14 points, which corresponds with gains for the NDP (+6), Liberals (+5) and Greens (+2). Environics found that 60 per cent of those surveyed said they were voting to defeat the Harper government, compared to 29 per cent who indicated they were voting to re-elect the government.

“We’re channeling resources into places with momentum,” added Possian. “If a Conservative swing riding gets 500 pledges to vote together for the best candidate to defeat the Conservatives, then we’ll crowdfund for local polls.”

“Last week we ran a crowdfunder for these 13 ridings, and we raised $55,000 in a matter of days, so we were able to commission the polls. We’ll be doing another round in September, and we’ll look at which ridings have over 500 pledges, and then we’ll crowdfund for those.”

Possian said Leadnow is encouraged by the early response to the campaign, and feels significant momentum building to defeat the Harper government.

“Conservative support in every single riding has gone down since 2011. It’s clear that things are changing a lot, and local polling is more important than ever before so we can understand what’s happening on the ground.”

Below we’ve broken down the polling data by riding, matching it with some information on the candidates and past results in the riding to make the data easier to understand. Keep in mind when interpreting these polls that some riding boundaries have changed, and so comparisons to the past may be imprecise. The margin of error on the riding-level polls is between 3.5 and 4.5 per cent.

Fredericton, NB

Conservative MP Keith Ashfield was first elected in the riding of Fredericton in the 2008 election, taking it from Liberal MP Andy Scott. He was re-elected in 2011 with 47 per cent of the vote and served as fisheries minister in the Conservative government before relinquishing those duties to receive treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. With his cancer now in remission, he is running for re-election.

He’ll face a much tougher fight than he did in 2011. According to Environics, 34 per cent of decided voters in Fredericton plan to vote for Liberal candidate Matt DeCourcey (+10), 29 per cent for Ashfield and the Conservatives (-18) and 26 per cent for NDP candidate Sharon Scott-Levesque (+2). The Green candidate, university professor and faculty union president Mary Lou Babineau, posted a strong 12 per cent support, exactly triple the 4 per cent support Greens got here in 2011.

Eglinton-Lawrence, ON

This Toronto riding was in the news lately as Conservative defector Eve Adams sought and lost the Liberal nomination, which went to lawyer Marco Mendicino. Eglinton-Lawrence was held by Liberals from the riding’s creation in 1979 until 2011, when it was won by Conservative Joe Oliver, who is now Canada’s finance minister. The NDP are running a star candidate there, former Saskatchewan finance minister Andrew Thomson.

According to the Environics, Conservative support among decided voters in the riding sits at 36 per cent, a drop of 11 points compared to the 2011 results. The Liberals are second with 35 per cent (-3) and the NDP are at 25 per cent (+13).

Etobicoke-Lakeshore, ON

Etobicoke-Lakeshore is the Toronto seat of former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who famously lost it, along with the election, in 2011. Now held by Conservative MP Bernard Trottier, the NDP are hoping lawyer and mediator Phil Trotter can upset the incumbent. The original Liberal candidate, lawyer Susan Watt, dropped out earlier this year and the president of the riding association, lawyer James Maloney, has stepped in to run for the party. Yes, that is a lot of lawyers.

In the Environics poll, Maloney came out on top with 36 per cent (+1), followed by the incumbent Trottier at 31 per cent (-9) and the NDP’s Trotter with 28 per cent support (+8).

Kitchener Centre, ON

Kitchener Centre was held by Liberal MP Karen Redmond from 1997 until 2008, when she lost a razor-thin decision to Conservative MP Stephen Woodworth. In 2011 the same two candidates went at it again, with Woodworth increasing his margin of victory significantly. He’s running for re-election, and this time the Liberals are running small-business owner Raj Saini and the NDP are countering with University of Waterloo professor Susan Cadell.

The Environics poll found that support for Woodworth has fallen to 29 per cent, a drop of 11 points compared to the 2011 results that has him sitting in third. The NDP’s Cadell is first with 33 per cent (+11), followed closely by Saini at 31 (-1).

London North Centre, ON

A traditionally Liberal riding, London North Centre was won by a Conservative for the first time when Susan Truppe captured it in 2011. Now the NDP are running professor and journalist German Gutierrez against her, and the Liberals are running Peter Fragiskatos, a professor and media commentator.

The Environics poll found Liberal support to have held steady at 34 per cent (0), while support for the incumbent Truppe has dropped to 32 per cent (-5). Gutierrez is a close third with 27 per cent (+3).

Willowdale, ON

Another traditionally Liberal seat in Toronto, Liberal leadership candidate Martha Hall-Findlay lost the former Liberal stronghold to Conservative Chungsen Leung in 2011. Challenging him this year are administrator Pouyan Tabasinejad for the NDP and lawyer Ali Ehsassi for the Liberals.

Environics found Ehsassi leading with 37 per cent support (-2), followed by the incumbent Leung with 32 per cent (-9) and the NDP’s Tabasinejad with 26 per cent support (+7).

Elmwood-Transcona, MB

Elmwood-Transcona is a downtown Winnipeg riding and the long-time home of former NDP MP Bill Blaikie. He retired in 2008, and was briefly succeeded by the NDP’s Jim Maloway, who lost the riding to Conservative candidate Lawrence Toet in 2011.

This time around Daniel Blaikie, the son of Bill Blaikie, will try to capture his father’s old seat for the NDP. He leads the Environics poll with 39 per cent support (-6), followed by Toet at 30 per cent (-17) and Liberal candidate Andrea Richardson-Lipon at 25 per cent (+20).

Saskatoon University, SK

Saskatoon University is a new riding, created from parts of the Saskatoon-Humboldt and Saskatoon-Wanuskewin ridings. Brad Trost, the Conservative incumbent in Saskatoon-Humbolt, is running for re-election in this new riding. He’ll be challenged by the NDP’s Claire Card, a veterinarian and advocate for affordable education, and the Liberals’ Cynthia Block, a journalist and broadcaster.

Card is currently leading the race with 41 per cent (+3) according to Environics, followed by Trost and the Conservatives at 34 (-15) and Block and the Liberals at 22 (+12).

Calgary Centre, AB

As the name would suggest, this urban riding is in the downtown core of Calgary. It has been held by Conservatives or Reform/Alliance politicians since its creation in 1968, and was the riding of former prime minister Joe Clark during his political comeback in the early 2000s.

Conservative MP and former journalist Joan Crockatt won the riding in a 2012 by-election, and she appears poised to repeat the feat as she leads the Environics poll with 44 per cent support (-11). The Liberals are running Kent Hehr, a former provincial MLA for the same area, and he’s sitting in second place with 32 per cent (+13). The NDP, whose support collapsed rather catastrophically in that 2012 by-election, is hoping to have better luck this time with family physician Jillian Ratti, who is polling third with 17 per cent support (+2).

Edmonton Griesbach, AB

Edmonton went solid orange in Alberta’s recent provincial election, so despite changes to the riding that cut areas of strong NDP support and added others that overwhelmingly vote Conservative, the NDP has high hopes of making gains in this new riding — especially given the retirement of longtime Conservative MP Peter Goldring. Trying to fill Goldring’s shoes for the Conservatives is journalist and former city councillor Kerry Diotte, now a partner at a public and government relations firm. Janis Irwin, an educational administrator, is the NDP candidate. The Liberals are fielding Brian Gold, who runs a consulting firm and teaches history at the University of Alberta.

The Environics poll shows the NDP’s provincial support in Edmonton appears to have carried over, with the NDP’s Irwin receiving a whopping 48 per cent support (+11). Diotte is second with 32 per cent (-21) and Gold rounds out the pack with 15 per cent support (+8).

Port Moody-Coquitlam, B.C.

Port Moody-Coquitlam was a swing riding from 1988 until 2004, when it was dissolved. Over its short lifespan, this suburban riding outside of Vancouver was represented by NDP, Reform, Liberal and Alliance politicians. It’s now been reinstated in time for the 2015 election.

Fin Donnelly, a former Coquitlam city councillor who was first elected to Parliament in a 2009 by-election, is running for re-election for the NDP. Well respected by many environmental activists in B.C., Donnelly is known in particular for challenging the expansion of fish farming on the Pacific coast. Tim Laidler, a former soldier and employee of the Vancouver Police Department, is running for the Conservatives, joined by Jessie Adcock, who’s in charge of the City of Vancouver’s digital presence after working for global financial institution HSBC, for the Liberals.

The Environics poll suggests the NDP is poised to make major gains in B.C., and Port Moody-Coquitlam is no exception. Donnelly has a staggering two-to-one lead in decided voters, polling at 54 per cent (+14) compared to 27 per cent for the Conservatives’ Laidler (-19). Unlike other parts of southwestern B.C., the Liberals (14 per cent, +5) and Greens (5 per cent, +1) appear to be non-factors.

Vancouver Granville, B.C.

Demographics would seem to favour the Conservatives in Vancouver Granville, since the riding cuts north to south across the city to include parts of some of the wealthiest neighbourhoods, including Shaughnessy. But the riding also includes pockets of lower-income rental housing, and Vancouverites of all social classes are still reeling from this spring’s fuel spill in English Bay and the Conservatives’ seemingly sanguine attitude towards protecting the coast from their pipeline and tanker plans. If the Conservatives can’t win this riding, they can’t win anywhere in Vancouver proper.

NDP candidate Mira Oreck, who heads up the west coast office of the Broadbent Institute, has the lead in this new riding, according to Environics, with 36 per cent of decided voters (+12) compared to 30 per cent for Conservative candidate Erinn Broshko (-5), a lawyer and business executive. The Liberals are running a star candidate in this riding, former crown prosecutor and Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Jody Wilson-Raybould, but it has yet to help them much as she trails in third with 24 per cent support (-6). Green candidate Michael Barkusky, an accountant, posted the only double-digit showing for the Greens outside of the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country riding and Fredericton with 10 per cent support (+1).

West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, B.C.

Created in 1997, West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country is another Vancouver area riding and includes large parts of the B.C. coast. Aside from a brief flirtation with Liberal-turned-Green Blair Wilson, it has always been reliably Conservative. Yet environmental concerns are paramount in this riding, and the Conservatives’ ham-fisted efforts to push through the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines don’t sit well with voters here. There is also concern about a major planned liquified natural gas export facility in Howe Sound.

There is arguably a four-way race in this riding, with Green candidate Ken Melamed, a former mayor and city councillor, registering a strong 19 per cent of decided voters in this poll.

Conservative MP John Weston trounced the Liberals and NDP last time around, but is now in third place with just 23 per cent of decided voters, half of the 46 per cent he won with in 2011. The Liberals, who are running former West Vancouver mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, have a narrow lead in decided voters with 30 per cent support (+6), three points ahead of the NDP’s Larry Coopman, a small-business owner and disabilities educator, who is at 27 per cent (+6).

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