Ottawa Centre (French: Ottawa-Centre) is an urban federal electoral district in Ontario, Canada, that has been represented in the House of Commons of Canada since 1968. While the riding's boundaries (mainly to the south and west as the north and east borders have remained the Ottawa River and Rideau River, respectively) have changed over the years to account for population changes, the riding has always comprised the central areas of Ottawa, the nation's capital.
The 1987 redistribution saw the riding expand westward to Island Park Drive, while losing all of its territory south of the Rideau River. Additionally, the riding gained back all of Old Ottawa East south of The Queensway.
The 1996 redistribution saw the riding expand further westward to Sherburne Road / Maitland Avenue north of the Queensway, as well as gaining the eastern half of Carlington (east of Merivale Road). Also, the area of Old Ottawa East north of the Queensway was added back to the riding.
Many public sector workers live in the riding. The northern part of the riding contains many government office buildings, including Parliament Hill. The riding also includes Carleton University and Saint Paul University's (where many UOttawa students have residence) campuses and residences.
Broadbent announced in 2005 that he would not run for re-election so he could devote more time to care for his ailing wife, Lucille. Richard Mahoney was again the Liberal candidate, hoping that, without an opposing star candidate, such as Broadbent, he would be elected this time. The NDP nominated Paul Dewar, a teacher and son of former mayor Marion Dewar. As the Liberal national numbers declined over the course of the campaign, it seemed more likely that the NDP could retain the seat. Mahoney went on the offensive late in the campaign, claiming a vote for Paul Dewar would help the Conservatives. Dewar retained most of Broadbent's voters and won by over 5000 votes. The riding also gave the Green Party of Canada one of its best performances nationwide with over 6,500 votes, over 10%.
A map showing the distribution of the NDP vote in the 2004 election. Ed Broadbent did best in Old Ottawa South and the western part of Centretown
The 2004 election was an unusual campaign in Ottawa Centre. The seat was vacated in September 2003 when Liberal incumbent Mac Harb received his long-awaited patronage appointment to the Canadian Senate from outgoing Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Paul Martin loyalist Richard Mahoney won the Liberal nomination and expected to win the riding.
Former NDP leader and widely respected statesman Ed Broadbent came out of political retirement to win the NDP nomination in January. As the seat was vacant, a by-election was expected to fill the seat and campaigning began in early 2004. However, Prime Minister Paul Martin delayed calling the by-election, in the expectation that a general election would soon be called.
In May 2004, a federal election was called, pre-empting the by-election. Broadbent was increasingly favoured to win, a mid-campaign poll showed him ahead. In addition to Broadbent's personal popularity, the NDP under new leader Jack Layton had greatly increased its popularity, especially in urban Ontario. The campaign was still hard-fought. In the end, Broadbent won a strong victory, and subsequently announced his retirement the following year, in April 2005.