Half Liberal, half Conservative, will Niagara Region’s four ridings see any change tonight?

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Published September 20, 2021 at 1:35 pm

At this moment, as far as the four federal ridings go, colour Niagara Region purple – two Conservative MPs (blue) and two Liberal (red).

That’s about as even as it gets. But will that change tonight?

As safe as voters presume a riding to be, that’s never really the case. The voting public have always been fickle and likely will be into the distant future.

Niagara Centre, which takes in Welland, Thorold and Port Colborne, is currently represented by Liberal Vance Badawey and has an extensive history of being Grit territory. In fact, the riding has been Liberal since 1935 except for a brief Conservative run 1980 to 1984 and NDP control from 2008 to 2015.

Badawey came into office, as did St Catharines Liberal Chris Bittle, during the Trudeau landslide majority in 2015.

Looking at St Catharines, Bittle might have the toughest run in the region as this riding flips back-and-forth from Liberal to Conservative with alarming frequency. Since 1968, St Catharines has been represented by four Liberals and three Conservatives.

On top of that, he has a credible opponent in Conservative Krystina Waler, who finished second to Bittle in 2019. Bittle collected 24,000 votes to Walr’s 19,000 but the riding’s history proves no party is safe here.

The Niagara Falls riding, which also includes Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake, is another purple riding, going back-and-forth between Liberals and Conservatives. Dating back to 1953, it has been Liberals four times and Conservative four times.

Conservative Tony Baldinelli took over the reins from former Tory incumbent Rob Nicholson in 2019 after the latter retired. Perhaps the most colourful incumbent the seat has ever seen is the late Liberal Judy LaMarch, an outspoken early-day feminist, who ran it from 1960 to 1968.

However, Liberal candidate Andrea Kaiser faces an uphill battle against Baldinelli as the Conservatives have controlled the riding since 2004.

Finally, the Niagara West riding, which consists of Grimsby, Lincoln, Pelham, West Lincoln, Wainfleet and a tiny sliver of St Catharines, is, in fact, the region’s newest riding, having been created by the 2012 federal electoral boundaries redistribution.

As such, it has only been represented by Conservatives, in this case, Dean Allison, elected in both 2015 and 2019. Liberal Ian Bingham is back against Allison after losing to him by 7,000 votes in 2019.

Based on federal polling, with the Liberals and Conservatives neck-to-neck going into today’s federal election, the four ridings in Niagara, split evenly, are about as true-to-form as it comes.

Whether they stay that way, of course, remains up to the notorious fickle voting public.

(Photo shows Niagara’s four incumbents Dean Allison, Chris Bittle, Vance Badawey and Tony Baldinelli)

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