Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies riding a Conservative stronghold

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We are now one month and one day removed from the 42nd Canadian General Election, on October 19th, and seven weeks into an eleven week campaign, the longest in modern Canadian history.

2012 electoral redistribution, lifted the number of contested seats to a record 338, with 15 new ones in Ontario, five each in BC and Alberta, and three in Quebec, meaning it will take 170 to form a majority government, four more than the Conservatives won in the 2011 election.

While there are no spending rules in place prior to the start of a campaign, it is a different story, once the writ is dropped and the campaign has officially begun, and in this election the limit for parties with a full slate of candidates is just shy of $54,500, as opposed to just over $21,000.

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Each electoral district is subject to specific spending limits, according to population and density and the numbers for candidates can thus vary significantly, with the riding differential in the last election at nearly $65,000.

Here in the Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies riding the population density is a low, 0.44, per square kilometre, with the area slightly more than 243,000 square kilometres, and the 2011 population at 107,382.

This year 75,063 of them are eligible to vote and they now have five declared candidate options, with incumbent Conservative Bob Zimmer, being challenged by Liberal candidate Matt Shaw, New Democrat candidate Kathi Dickie, Libertarian Todd Keller, and Elizabeth Biggar of the Green Party.

Formerly known as the Prince George-Peace River Constituency, the riding has been held since 1972 by a so-called right wing party candidate, beginning with Frank Oberle Senior, who was a six term Progressive Conservative MP, and twice took more than 60 percent of the vote in the period from 1972 to 1988.

Jay Hill, also a six time winner, was first elected in 1993 and again 1997 as a member of the Reform Party, and then came within a fraction of capturing 70 percent of the vote in 2000 as an Alliance candidate before winning as a Conservative in 2004, 2006, and 2008.

He also took 60 per cent or more of the vote in three other elections, and in the last one Mr. Zimmer captured 62 percent, extending to seven, the number of elections won with more than 55 percent of the vote, by local riding right wing candidates

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