|Marc Serré isn't the sharpest, most involved parlementarian, but he does the job well and comes from a family of politicians with recognition in the area. |
His NDP opponent, Stef Paquette, is fairly well-known in the region; while he is a musician, people know him just as much from his local radio, acting and tv gigs.
He is also very close with France Gelinas, very well respected MPP for Nickel Belt, who usually wins with a huge majority.
However, he has so far been engaging in what feels like left-wing populism with attacks on his opponent and long-winded facebook rants. While this may be giving him momentum now with the NPD base, it will probably end up playing against him, as Marc Serré really hasn't been doing that bad of a job, and the constant attacks may leave people with a bad taste in their mouths.
(One recent incident involved the Labour Day celebrations in a local park; Marc Serré, as MP, came out, only to be attacked online by Stef Paquette for the Liberal's lack of support of unions in a recent labour dispute. Paquette was subsequently banned from posting on Marc Serré's Facebook page)
Also to note, while Paquette is popular as an entertainer, he also has a reputation as someone with a very big ego, who talks the talk but doesn't always walk the walk. His decision to run seems to be coming from an honest place, but I feel the party has overestimated his appeal.
With a stronger candidate, this may have been an easy seat for the NDP to take back. For now, it seems like a liberal-leaning tight race.
|Re NDP musicians--sure, there's Angus & Cash; but there's also Paul Loewenberg next door in Sudbury, who looked a sure bet in 2015 but turned in a 20 point deficit instead. But regarding West Nipissing's "Liberal in droves" status: sure, it made the difference in 2015, but the provincial vs federal argument breaks down in how John Vanthof has lately turned *that* into ONDP landslide country as well (if a little more by proxy), so it shouldn't have been *non*-amenable. 2015's upset *was* a surprise--why here, and not Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing?--and while a certain Franco-Ontarian hereditary Liberalness (+ the Libs running the spawn of a former office-holder) helped, my feeling is that what *really* triggered the tip is Nickel Belt being a more "metropolitan" riding than AMK (thanks to Greater Sudbury), and it was the "metropolitan" vote that was more prone to Justinning. So even if the NDP-bedrock towns N of Sudbury remained NDP bedrock, there was enough erosion there for that base to fall short of counteracting the more avid Liberal swings elsewhere. Given how extraordinarily strong the party remains provincially, there's absolutely no way the Nickel Belt Dippers are going to treat '15 as anything other than a fluke...short of Jagmeet-doldrums demoralization, of course.|
|Stephane (Stef) Paquette was recently nominated as the NDP candidate. He is rather high profile, particularly in the francophone and arts communities. To win Nickel Belt, one must be friendly to the francophones if not be one! Since this is a swing riding, if the incumbent is rather weak ('tis the case), he may be defeated quite easily. Paquette should win the riding back for the NDP, thanks to his profile and media presence from all around the belt, whilst Serré's support has been mostly focused around Sturgeon Falls.|
|Easy Liberal hold here. Why? CPC is not a threat, and the NDP is at a 20 year low.|
|Still sticking this is not a surefire gain for the NDP, but they certainly have a high-profile candidate, musician Stephane Paquette from the Sudbury part of the riding. It's not Gravelle, but he was unlikely to run anyway. There's at least two other NDP musicians likely to win in Ontario (Angus and Cash), and he's a Francophone, but the fundamentals still don't have this as a certain gain. This isn't the metropolitan, diverse riding that Cash has, nor the long-standing Far North stronghold Angus has. But it's certainly ripe for the picking, and one of a smaller than usual number of winnable NDP targets.|
|The key will be who the NDP nominates. If they can get Claude Gravelle back, they should get the seat back since Marc Serre has the Trudeau record weighing down on him (even though Gravelle would have Singh as a negative factor). Otherwise, incumbency is a big advantage but not necessarily a decider. This is a very bilingual riding so if the NDP pick a unilingual candidate, forget it.|
As for the Conservatives? While, at the surface, this would look promising for them (rural/suburban, working class), this is Northern Ontario after all. They haven't got even 30% of the vote in a federal or provincial election in Nickel Belt in a long time. Hence they shouldn't be a factor unless things dramatically change. It's hard to say right now between the Liberals and NDP.
|This is a difficult riding to predict. The NDP lost this riding in 2015 which was quite the surprise. Both the Liberals and NDP are currently dipping in the polls. It isnt unthinkable that with an emboldened Conservative Party this into a three-way race that the NDP could win this riding with a lower vote percentage than 2015.|
|I believe the NDP are able to take this; this is rural but this is Northern Ontario rather than Southwestern, so they should do better. The Conservatives and Greens have no chance, so it's a straight fight between the two. Having said that, the NDP campaign is not gaining traction, and Claude Gravelle doesn't appear to be running, so it is possible both the Liberals and the NDP could decline in vote share, which would make it a lot harder for them.|
|This riding swings Liberal-NDP all the time federally, but consistently stays NDP provincially because of West Nipissing's status... it votes Liberal in droves, and is part of the riding federally but not provincially. The MP is also from that part of the riding. That said, with the Liberals being in scandal-land, things may go sour for Serré rather quickly. If the NDP nominates a francophone, they'll be pretty much set. A francophone from WN, guaranteed win. To win Nickel Belt, you need to be bilingual!|