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Experts: Quebec, along with GTA, Vancouver suburbs, key election battleground

Last Updated Aug 23, 2021 at 10:37 am EDT

Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau greets a crowd of supporters with his family in tow after triggering a federal election, in Ottawa, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Though it’s not always clear who will win an election when the race begins – sometimes it is clear who will decide the outcome.

Political experts are already identifying some of the key battleground ridings to watch heading into the federal election on Sept. 20.

Nelson Wiseman, political scientist at the University of Toronto, says it may be Quebec voters who ultimately determine the outcome of the election.

“I think it’s because of Quebec that the election has been called by the Liberals,” says Wiseman. “They see their route to victory through that province.”

The way that Quebec votes has swung the last three federal elections. Quebecers led to the NDP orange wave in 2011, the Trudeau Liberal majority in 2015, and then the minority government in the last vote when many Quebecers supported the Bloc Quebecois.

According to Daniel Beland, political scientist at McGill University, the battle in the province right now is between the Liberals and the Bloc. He believes where that goes could hang on the participation of Quebec Premier Francois Legault.

“If Legault doesn’t really stir the pot or criticize the Prime Minister, it gives fewer opportunities for the Bloc to say we are the only ones who represent Quebec centrists,” says Beland.

The suburban ridings surrounding Toronto and Vancouver will also be key battleground ridings. In past elections, the suburbs of the GTA and Metro Vancouver were critical in setting the direction of the vote.

“In both B.C. and Ontario, the most critical regions are the suburban belts surrounding Toronto and Vancouver,” says Wiseman.

Experts also believe there could be some opportunities for the NDP or the Liberals to pick up seats in Alberta, specifically in Edmonton, with the Conservatives polling poorer than usual in the province.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called the election in just over a month, arriving at Rideau Hall on Sunday morning to visit with Governor General Mary Simon.

The vote will come less than two years since the Liberals were reduced to a minority government.

At the time of dissolution, the Liberals have 155 seats, the Conservatives 119, the Bloc Quebecois 32, the NDP 24 and the Greens two. There are also four Independents and one vacancy.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is set to leave Longueuil, Que., after a Monday morning news conference and make his way to Cobourg, Ont., with several stops along the way.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh will be making an announcement of his own in Toronto — a Liberal stronghold he’s hoping to turn orange.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has virtual telephone town halls” with communities in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario planned for Monday evening.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet added his voice to the chorus of federal leaders blasting Trudeau for the election call, describing it as very irresponsible and accusing him of acting out of personal ambition.

Green Leader Annamie Paul launched her campaign in the riding of Toronto Centre, where she is hoping to win a seat in the House of Commons. Her speech emphasized the climate crisis and the need for urgent action.

With files from the Canadian Press