As of the 2011 election, Ottawa South is one of two Ottawa ridings currently by a Liberal. The Liberal Party has held the riding since its creation in 1988. The closest election was a 7% Liberal win in 2006. The riding has voted Liberal even during Progressive Conservative and Conservative governments. If the riding's boundaries were not changed before the 1984 election, however, the Progressive Conservative candidate may have won that vote. The New Democratic Party received its greatest level of support in the 2011 election at 18%. The Greens saw their highest vote here in 2008 with 7%.
2011 election popular vote map by polling division
The Liberals have support in most parts of the riding. In the 2004 election, the strongest Liberal areas were in the Alta Vista neighbourhood. However in the 2006 election, they lost some of this support, but it was gained from lower income areas such as Heron Gate. By 2008, the Liberals had gained much of their support back in Alta Vista.
The Conservatives have their strongest amount in the southern parts of the riding, especially in the community of Blossom Park and around the Macdonald-Cartier International Airport By 2006, the Conservatives had won the neighbourhood of Elmvale Acres, but this was lost in 2008. The New Democrats have only won one poll in recent memory, and that was a poll in Heron Gate in 2004.
Barry Turner was the Progressive Conservative incumbent MP going into the 1988 election. He had previously been the MP for the Ottawa—Carleton riding. As an MP, Turner had a reputation as a hard working MP. However, he would end up being defeated by John Manley, a lawyer with a specialty in tax law. Many (who?) attribute the loss to a phone and mail campaign by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which was upset at the Progressive Conservative Government's cuts to the civil service. Needs clarification
Manley was re-elected, as part of a landslide victory for the opposition Liberals. He defeated consulting engineer Doug Walkinshaw of the Reform Party. Joe Anton, the Progressive Conservative candidate, an auditor for Revenue Canada defeated the mayor of Kanata for the Tory nomination. Ursule Critoph, an economist, was the NDP candidate.
Before the 1997 election, the riding changed its boundaries slightly. The old 1987 version encompassed 95% of the new 1996 version. The remaining 5% came from nearby Carleton-Gloucester. John Manley, now the Minister of Industry was once again re-elected. He faced opposition from the Somali community in the riding for his indifference to their needs and concerns. This did not have enough impact, however and Manley won again with another massive majority. He defeated Carla Marie Dancey, the Reform Party candidate who lived outside the riding. Also running was Keith Beardsley, a staffer to MP Gerry Weiner. Many attribute Manley's victory to attracting business to Ottawa's high tech sector.
By 2000, Manley had progressed to Minister of Foreign Affairs. He defeated Brad Darbyson, the Canadian Alliance candidate, who was an investment counselor. Finishing in third was engineer Kevin Lister, the Progressive Conservative candidate and native Albertan.
The riding's boundaries had very little change. 99.7% of the riding remained intact, taking 0.3% from Ottawa-Vanier. John Manley retired prior to the 2004 election. He was among a number of high profile Liberals to retire who were known to be Jean Chrétien loyalists. David McGuinty, a lawyer and brother of Ontario PremierDalton McGuinty, won the Liberal nomination. He was known to be a friend of Prime Minister Paul Martin. McGuinty faced a steep challenge from Alan Riddell, another lawyer, and Monia Mazigh, the NDP candidate. Riddell, the Conservative candidate, had suffered bad press when it was discovered he had been driving with a suspended license. Mazigh, who lived in Nepean, was another high-profile candidate, being the wife of Maher Arar, who was wrongly accused of terrorism. McGuinty suffered too, as his brother's government was unpopular at the time, but in the end was victorious.
2006 election popular vote map by polling division
David McGuinty was re-elected after two years as a Liberal backbencher. The race was expected to be closer than 2004, which it was, as McGuinty faced a tough challenge from Conservative Allan Cutler. Cutler was the man who blew the whistle on the Liberal Sponsorship Scandal which saw millions of dollars of public funds transferred to Liberal friendly firms in Quebec during the Chrétien era. The margin of victory between the liberal and his conservative challenger was closer than in 2004, but McGuinty eventually came out on top. Cutler himself was painted as a hypocrite as he would not address the issue of his nomination. Accusations started that 2004 candidate Alan Riddell was given $50,000 not to stand for nomination in the race. Riddell was also pushed aside in an earlier nomination race that saw former MP Barry Turner acclaimed, but would later drop out, forcing a new race. Running for the NDP was the Lebanese-born economist Henri Sader who faced a difficult challenge holding on to the votes that Monia Mazigh won in the previous election. Running again for Greens again was John Ford who failed to hold on to his votes, and running for the Progressive Canadian Party again was Brad Thomson who lost votes as well. Thomson had all but dropped out however, endorsing McGuinty. The Marijuana Party planned to run Tim Meehan, but he did not gain ballot access.
Barry Turner was acclaimed for the nomination when Allan Riddell, the party's candidate in 2004, withdrew because of allegations about a prank in which he was involved in university. The party later cancelled Turner's nomination and called a new meeting. Turner was not able to get an answer from the party about why the nomination was cancelled, and decided against seeking the nomination again.Allan Cutler announced that he would seek the nomination.
2008 election popular vote map by polling division
In opposition, McGuinty served as the Liberal Party's environment critic. He faced nominal opposition from three lesser-known candidates. The Conservative candidate was Elie Salibi, the director of international sales with Corel, who was born in Lebanon. The NDP candidate was Hijal De Sarkar, a Carleton University political science student of Bengali descent. The Green candidate was Qais Ghanem, a doctor, born in Yemen. Former Libertarian Party leader Jean-Serge Brisson also ran, as well as Al Gullon, the Progressive Canadian candidate. Facing lower turnout in the riding itself, as well as nationwide, and a strong lack of enthusiasm for the Liberal leader Stéphane Dion, McGuinty was able to increase his vote total, and his lead over his closest opponent, from the 2006 election. McGuinty just barely missed the 50% mark, but was nonetheless re-elected handily in Ottawa South.
While in opposition, McGuinty was promoted to the position of the Official Opposition House leader. Once again, he faced and defeated Elie Salibi, the Conservative candidate. McGuinty was one of only 34 Liberals elected to the House of Commons in the election, and both he and Salibi saw a reduction in their percentage of votes. The NDP candidate, James McLaren, a teacher, had the best performance for the NDP in riding history, despite a mid-campaign controversy regarding comments he made on Facebook.