TORONTO - The electoral district of Niagara Centre (formerly known as Welland), is located in the Niagara Region. It is situated along the northeastern shore of Lake Erie and includes the cities of Port Colborne, Thorold, Welland and part of the City of St. Catharines.
Regionally, it is an area rich in history, culture and is comprised of several different ethnic groups. Italians, at 13% of the population, represent one of the largest ethnic groups in Niagara Centre. According to the 2016 Census, 14,555 constituents from a population of 109,070 are of Italian heritage. Other ethnic backgrounds include German, Ukrainian and Aboriginal origins.
The riding is shaping up to be a battleground among the three major parties. Vance Badawey, current MP, is seeking re-election for the Liberals. He has represented the riding since 2015 and was re-elected in 2019 when he won 35% of the vote. Conservative candidate, April Jeffs took 31%, followed by Malcolm Allen of the NDP with 26% of the vote.
Despite its history of Liberal representation in the House of Commons, Allen represented the constituency between 2008-2015 for the NDP.
This time around, Badawey is up against candidate Graham Speck who is gaining ground for the Conservatives. At the same time, candidate Melissa McGlashan, aims to revitalize NDP fortunes.
Rounding out the field are candidates Kurtis McCartney for the Greens and Michael Kimmons for the PPC.
According to the latest projections by 338Canada.com (September 1), which uses algorithms that take into account results of all major polls, the Conservatives, at 32.7%, are ahead of the NDP by just over one point. The margin is even less between NDP and the Liberals at 29.8%.
Candidates were not available for comment prior to our going to print.
P. Pajdo is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter