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Liberals expected to win in Kitchener-Conestoga, Kitchener South-Hespeler

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While two ridings in Waterloo Region are still too close to call, the Conservative candidates for both have either said they don't believe they'll win or congratulated their opposition.

As of Wednesday morning, neither Kitchener-Conestoga and Kitchener South-Hespeler has been called by Elections Canada for the Liberal or Conservative candidates.

The Kitchener-Conestoga riding has been a hotly contested riding in the past two federal elections.

"Historically it's been pretty tight in this riding, which is pretty cool because I think its representative of the diversity, beliefs and thoughts of opinion," said Chad Bouma who lives in Elmira, within the riding.

In 2015, the Conservatives took the riding by 251 votes.

In the last federal election, the Liberals won the seat by a margin of 365 votes.

As of Wednesday morning, only 174 votes are giving Liberal incumbent Tim Louis a slight lead over Conservative Carlene Hawley.

Despite no formal call yet, on Tuesday afternoon Hawley said she does not expect to win the riding.

"We are disappointed in the results, and are not expecting to gain enough with the count of the mail in ballots Thursday," she said in an email.

Hawley added she is grateful for the "tremendous support" she received from voters and volunteers and is looking forward to regaining time with her family post-election.

As of Wednesday at 2 p.m., Election Canada showed there were 1,633 mail-in ballots in Kitchener-Conestoga.

"The urban votes are a lot of votes and that's where most of the Liberal votes come from, so we'll see how that turns out once all the votes are counted," said Andrea Perella, a political science professor at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Perella said he also sees a divide in Kitchener South-Hespeler, another race still too close to call.

"Part of it is in Kitchener and part of it is in Cambridge and they don't always see eye to eye when it comes to political orientation," he said.

As of Wednesday morning, Liberal candidate Valerie Bradford led Conservative candidate Tyler Calver by 668 votes.

In a video posted just after midnight on Wednesday, Calver said, "our side fell a little short in this election campaign" and that he had congratulated Bradford.

Around half an hour before Calver's video, Bradford tweeted that her win was official.

"Our team was in more or less lock up doing the count of the mail in votes yesterday," said Bradford. "We're pretty confident with the preliminary results."

Elections Canada reported 2,137 mail-in ballots in that riding as of 2 p.m. Wednesday.

They add that verifying mail-in ballots and counting them can be a lengthy process, especially if there are thousands per riding.

Election Canada has said the results from the ridings could come as early as Wednesday afternoon.

Peter Woolstencroft, a retired political science professor at the University of Waterloo, said Elections Canada officials will take their time counting mail-in ballots to be thorough.

"They have to get it right, they don't want any questions or doubts to be raised," he said.

Despite Hawley and Calver both addressing their expected defeats, Woolstencroft believes the Conservatives could have won these two ridings and Cambridge as well, pointing to the noticeable jump in People's Party of Canada (PPC) votes locally and nationally.

In Kitchener Conestoga, PPC candidate Kevin Depuis pulled in 3,641 votes, or 6.9 per cent of the election poll votes, not including mail-in ballots, preliminary results show. That's a jump from the 790 votes the PPC candidate received in the 2019 election.

In Kitchener South-Hespeler, PPC candidate Melissa Baumgaertner received 3,288 votes or 6.9 per cent of the election poll votes, not including mail-in ballots, preliminary results show. In the 2019 election, the PPC candidate in that riding received 1,005 votes.

"Some fraction of that (PPC voters) … would have voted Conservative, which gives them a better number of seats," he said. "Three seats in Waterloo Region could have gone Conservative looking at the numbers."

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