The not election just at the campaign national will level be fought by the party leaders but also by the candidates in each of the 282 ridings (increased from 264 ridings in the last election). In many of these ridings, local issues or personalities may influence the vote more than anything the leaders say or do. Here is a rundown of some of the more interesting battles to watch in the coming weeks:
St. John’s West—Wisecracking incumbent John Crosbie, a former provincial cabinet minister and a candidate for the finance portfolio in a federal Conservative government, takes on New Democrat Tom Mayo, president of the Newfoundland Federation of Labor. Crosbie beat Mayo by 2,522 votes in a 1976 byelection. But the New Democrats won their first-ever seat in Newfoundland last fall and are taking dead aim on Crosbie’s.
Halifax—With incumbent Robert Stanfield stepping down, this seat is wide open and is shaping up as a battle by proxy between Pierre Trudeau and Joe Clark. The Liberals are running lawyer Brian Flemming, a Trudeau aide, and the Conservatives have nominated lawyer George Cooper, a key figure in Clark’s leadership campaign in 1976. When Flemming ran in 1974 he shaved Stanfield’s majority from 7,927 to 2,583 votes. It should be even closer this time.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND Hillsborough—Conservative incumbent Heath Macquarrie, an eccentric but popular figure who held this riding (which includes Charlottetown) for 22 years, is stepping down. The Conservatives have nominated Tom MacMillan, a bright, young (33) academic who used to work for Stanfield. But the Liberals have countered with Gordon Tweedy, a local lawyer, who says: “I’ve lived here all my life. I’m going to stay here whether I’m elected or not.” The suggestion, perhaps unfair, is that MacMillan won’t.
Saint John—It was considered a major upset when Liberal Michael Landers knocked off Conservative Tom Bell, a 21-year veteran, in the 1974 election. Now, Landers, a bland lawyer who has managed to spend five years in Ottawa barely noticed, faces a challenge from Conservative Eric Ferguson, the local police chief.
Sainte Marie—Broadcaster André Payette, ex-husband of Parti Québécois minister Lise Payette, is one of the Conservatives’ few star candidates in Quebec and is running hard in this east-end Montreal riding. The Liberal incumbent is Jacques Lavoie, who won the seat for the Conservatives over Communications Minister Pierre Juneau in a Péquiste-assisted upset in the 1975 byelec-
tions. But less than two years later he decided he was more at home with the Liberals and switched parties. Now the Liberals are trying to muscle him aside for Jean-Claude Malépart, former member of the provincial legislature.
Shefford—This Eastern Townships seat was held by independent MP Gilbert Rondeau, who was drummed out of the Social Credit Party in 1977 after being convicted on 17 counts of tax evasion. Since convicted of arson, as well, he is not expected to run again. The Tories hope to fill the vacuum with Gerald Scott, a prominent local businessman. The Liberals are countering with Jean Lapierre, a former aide to Public Works Minister André Ouellet.
Blainville-Deux Montagnes—Francis Fox, who resigned from the cabinet after it was disclosed he had signed an-
other, man’s name on a document to obtain an abortion for a lady friend, is the Liberal candidate in this Montreal riding. He is running, as Senator Edward Kennedy did in 1970 after Chappaquiddick, against himself and the only question is his margin of victory. Indications are it will be at least as large as was Kennedy’s.
Etobicoke Centre—Energy Minister Alastair Gillespie is running for his life in this suburban Toronto riding against Conservative Michael Wilson, executive vice-president of Dominion Securities Ltd. and a dark-horse candidate for Tory finance minister. Liberal polls have shown Gillespie trailing, but his recent exposure in the much publicized dispute between the government and Exxon Corp. may save him.
St. Paul’s—Another cabinet minister, Secretary of State John Roberts, is in danger in this upper-middle-class seat in central Toronto. The challenge comes from Conservative Ron Atkey, a lawyer who used to hold the seat. There is a heavy Jewish vote in the riding that the Tories have been diligently wooing. But Roberts is popular with Toronto’s trendy arts and publishing crowd, many of whom live in the riding.
Halton —Frank Philbrook, a nondescript Liberal MP, will be hard-pressed to hold onto his seat between Toronto and Hamilton. Conservative MP Otto Jelinek, best known for his skating ability, has parachuted into the riding after redistribution took his Toronto seat.
Essex-Kent—Liberal Bob Daudlin won this rural riding in Southwestern Ontario on Agriculture Minister Eugene Whelan’s coattails in 1974. His chief opponent this time is Conservative David Conklin, a wealthy lumberman. The result should tell whether Whelan still has the same clout with farmers.
Winnipeg-Fort Garry—The race in this riding is wide open with the announcement by incumbent James Richardson, who left the Trudeau cabinet over its bilingual policies to sit as an independent, that he will not run for a fourth term. The Liberals will likely run Lloyd Axworthy, the only Liberal MLA in Manitoba; and the ex-leader of the Manitoba Conservatives, Sidney Spivak, will probably get the PC nomination.
Assiniboia—Always a three-way fight, this southern Saskatchewan riding promises to be close again. Liberal incumbent Ralph Goodale, a former aide to Transport Minister Otto Lang, faces challenges from New Democrat Bill Knight, who held the seat before
Goodale, and Conservative Len Gustafson, a farmer.
ALBERTA Crowfoot—This site of Jack Horner’s swan song. The Conservative maverick turned Liberal minister faces his come-uppance against incumbent Conservative MP Arnold Malone. Even Horner is admitting privately that his political career is “finished.” But expect him to go out fighting.
Vancouver Centre—Formerly held by Liberal minister Ron Basford, this seat is coveted by Grits and Tories alike. The Liberals are running former mayor Art Phillips but the Conservatives’ first nominee dropped out. If the Tories find a credible candidate, it will still be close. Basford won by just 1,921 votes in 1974.
New Westminster - Coquitlam — This seat on the outskirts of Vancouver has been won by the New Democrats in the last two elections. But the incumbent, Stuart Leggatt, one of the best MPs in Ottawa, is stepping down to run provincially. In his place, the NDP has nominated ex-Liberal MP Pauline Jewett. The Conservatives are running Margaret Gregory, who lost to Leggatt by only 204 votes in 1974. With the B.C. Penitentiary in the riding, capital punishment is expected to be an issue and Gregory is an outspoken hanger. “There are hangers and there are hangers,” says one Tory official. “She’s the kind that wants to do it publicly.”^
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