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Seven ridings with very different electoral dynamics Add to ...

1. Liberal refuge


Vancouver Centre

Incumbent: Hedy Fry (Liberal); won by 9.4 percentage points (5,318 votes)

2004: Liberal. 2006: Liberal. 2008: Liberal.

For all but the Liberals, the densely packed urban riding that features an inlet called False Creek has been the graveyard of the Pacific.

Hedy Fry has held the seat, which stretches from Stanley Park in the north across the city core to the glistening condo towers of Yaletown in the south, since 1993. That year, as a rookie candidate, she defeated Kim Campbell – then prime minister.

Some would argue Ms. Fry has beaten tougher challengers since. In 2006, the immensely popular NDP candidate, Svend Robinson, took her on, threatening to undermine her support in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community. But when the ballots were counted it wasn’t even close – Liberals, 26,000; NDP, 16,000.

“Hedy is almost impossible to beat,” said Michael Byers, who ran against her – and lost – for the NDP in 2008. “She is one of those community-based MPs who throughout the year goes to every event … and she’s one heck of a campaigner.”

What will unseat her? Try retirement, Mr. Byers said.

This time out she faces Conservative Jennifer Clarke, a three-term Vancouver City Council member; the Greens’ Adriane Carr (who more than tripled her party’s vote between 2006 and 2008, going from 3,000 to 10,000); and anti-poverty activist Karen Shillington for the NDP.

2. Cracking the urban fortress


Vancouver Quadra

Incumbent: Joyce Murray, Liberal, won by 8.7 percentage points (4,832 votes)

2004: Liberal. 2006: Liberal. 2008: Liberal.

The city’s westernmost riding, Vancouver Quadra takes in the University of British Columbia campus and leafy residential neighbourhoods that have been a Liberal stronghold for decades. In this election, Conservative challenger Deborah Meredith will be trying to storm the fort.

The riding has been represented by a Liberal MP since 1984, when former prime minister John Turner won the first of two elections in which he ran to represent the riding. Mr. Turner was succeeded by Edward McWhinney and then by Stephen Owen, who dominated three elections before he stepped down in 2007.

Current MP Joyce Murray, who served on the provincial Liberal cabinet before shifting to federal politics, squeaked past Ms. Meredith by 151 votes in a March, 2008, by-election.

Ms. Murray won by a wider margin, of nearly 5,000 votes, over Ms. Meredith in the October, 2008, general election.

This time around, Ms. Meredith, a professor at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, is campaigning on Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s tough-on-crime policies and economic track record and attacking her rival’s “irresponsible” private member’s bill to ban tanker traffic off the B.C. coast.

Ms. Murray proposed the legislation in light of the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, which would feature twinned pipelines running from Alberta to the B.C. coast and tankers that would carry oil to export markets.

Laura-Leah Shaw is running for the Green Party and Victor Elkins is the New Democratic Party candidate.

3. Courting the ethnic vote


Vancouver South

Incumbent: Ujjal Dosanjh (Liberal), won by .05 percentage points (20 votes).

2004: Liberal. 2006: Liberal. 2008: Liberal.

Ujjal Dosanjh, former NDP premier and federal Liberal cabinet minister, got the political scare of his life on election night, 2008, when his mighty 9,000-vote margin from 2006 dwindled to a mere handful of ballots. Conservative challenger Wai Young is back for another shot at toppling the political veteran in one of the most diverse ridings in Canada, where immigrants comprise 60 per cent of the population. Chinese-Canadians are by far the largest ethnic group.

The riding has been targeted by Tory strategists as part of their all-out bid for a majority. They believe their tough-on-crime approach and emphasis on the ethnic vote play well in Vancouver South. Mr. Dosanjh, who calls himself the underdog in the campaign, has been running hard ever since his narrow victory.

NDP candidate Meena Wong is a potential spoiler. Fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin, she could attract more than the 17.6 per cent of the vote the NDP claimed in 2008. If that happens, however, it’s unclear which candidate would be hurt more, Mr. Dosanjh or Ms. Young.

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