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NDP environment critic Linda Duncan speaks during an Ottawa news conference on Aug. 24, 2010. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
NDP environment critic Linda Duncan speaks during an Ottawa news conference on Aug. 24, 2010. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Ridings to Watch

Electoral landscape shifts in Edmonton-Strathcona and Nunavut Add to ...

With the campaign now at the halfway mark, we've seen enough change to make some changes to the Big 50 list of races to watch. These are the battleground ridings that could determine the outcome of the May 2 election. They were selected by Globe reporters in Ottawa and in bureaus across the country. We've received plenty of e-mail from readers and other reports, and we're prepared to change two predictions.

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Edmonton-Strathcona: Alberta's lone incumbent New Democrat has gained an edge over her Tory rival, leading The Globe to move the riding to "leaning NDP."

Linda Duncan won the riding from Conservative Rahim Jaffer in 2008 by just 463 votes - a race so close that Mr. Jaffer prematurely gave a victory speech. The win by Ms. Duncan built on her second-place showing in the 2006 race, and spoiled Tory hopes for an Alberta sweep. Now, with the Liberals running a weak candidate in the province's most progressive riding, Ms. Duncan is commanding broad support. She has been in a tight race with Conservative candidate Ryan Hastman, who sent a note to volunteers last weekend pleading for help, saying: "We're losing." Observers say it was a ploy to keep his base motivated, but Ms. Duncan's office is buzzing with volunteers, too. If Mr. Hastman thinks it, it's difficult not to agree.

Nunavut: Former premier Paul Okalik's announcement that he will try to reclaim Nunavut for the Liberals poses a real threat for the Tory incumbent. The race is tightening and The Globe is changing its call on Nunavut from "leaning Conservative" to "too close to call."

Nunavut Conservative MP Leona Aglukkaq won Nunavut in 2008 in a tight, three-way race that could easily have seen the Liberals or NDP prevail. But the Liberals held the riding for 20 years prior to that defeat. Mr. Okalik's first salvo was at the Tories, for not delivering on a promise to build a port in Iqaluit. He's promising to run a campaign based on education. Also running is New Democrat Jack Hicks.

Follow on Twitter: @josh_wingrove

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