Friday, July 20, 2012

Quebec federal riding proposal analysis (part 1 - Western and Northern Quebec)

Current boundaries

On Monday, the Quebec federal riding boundary commission released their proposed map. And anyone who has been following my commentary since then knows my views on the subject. Quebec is due to get three more ridings. But that's not the real story of the proposal. The commission has decided to only retain the names of 19 of the ridings. The rest of the ridings will be getting new names. And some of those names are down right bizarre. But, my biggest complain with the new names is the fact that 24 of them will be named after people, including celebrity (but historically important) athletes such as Maurice Richard and Gilles Villeneuve. Some of the new ridings employ unnecessary historical spellings of regions, like adding an e to Shawinigan- “Shawinigane” or turning Lachute into “La Chute”. Not only that, but many of the new ridings have some bizarre boundaries and ignore community of interest in the name of making most ridings within 5% of the provincial average. Some Liberal MPs have already stated their displeasure.
Proposed boundaries

Anyways, as with Alberta and BC, there's no way I can analyze all of Quebec's 78 proposed ridings in one post. So, I will have to break the province down as well. Part one of my Quebec analysis will focus on the part of the province I know best. Western (and Northern) Quebec (I live across the river in Ottawa).

Presently, the region has just 5 ridings, but the large amount of growth in the region has meant the area will get an addition of one riding. The two northern ridings will stay largely unchanged, so the major changes in the area were made in the Outaouais area, the part of Quebec that is located in the Ottawa Valley. Presently, the Outaouais has 2 urban ridings (Gatineau and Hull—Aylmer), plus a third exurban/rural riding (Pontiac) that makes up the rest of the region. The commission has decided to re-orient the urban ridings, by creating one strictly urban riding, named Outaouais (consisting of Hull and part of the Gatineau sector), and two “rurban” ridings named Aylmer and Petite-Nation that take in urban parts of the City of Gatineau and some rural and exurban areas outside of the city. The left over area outside the city becomes the new riding of “Haute-Laurentides—Pontiac” which takes in the rual parts of the Outaouais and gains new territory in the Laurentians.

While I'm not a big fan of the proposed Outaouais riding, as it spans a natural boundary- the Gatineau River- the proposal for western Quebec isn't that bad. At least not compared to the rest of Quebec. Politically, it benefits the NDP the most, as it gains one more riding, and I see no reason for the NDP to not win it under the current political climate.

Here is my analysis of the six proposed ridings:


This riding combines the Hull sector (except the neighbourhoods of Birch Manor and Plateau) of the City of Gatineau with the neighbourhoods of Pointe-Gatineau, Templeton-Ouest, Touraine, Riviera, Cote d'Azur, and most of the Versant District in the Gatineau sector. This riding connects the more urban parts of the city of Gatineau together, in a sort of “Gatineau Centre” type riding. It contains both “Downtown Hull” and “Downtown Gatineau”. The commission named the riding “Outaouais” after the Ottawa River, which is named Outaouais in French. I think this is misleading, as “the Outaouais” is also a geographic term that is usually used to refer to the whole Gatineau region. This is why it is a bad name. I would suggest calling the riding “Hull—Gatineau”. 

I'm not a big fan of connecting these two parts of the city, as they are separated by a natural boundary- the Gatineau River. However, the two parts of the riding are similar in their demographics, so it's not a huge problem. Also, if the riding didn't exist, another larger riding would have to be created spanning the Gatineau River further upstream, connecting rural and exurban communities surrounding the city of Gatineau. This may prove to be the worse of the two options, and so this district might not be so bad. I would make one change however, trading the Versant District with Limbour neighrbourhood, as these proposed boundaries currently isolate Limbour from the rest of the new riding of Petite-Nation being created from the rest of the city.  

Politically, the riding is easily NDP. Both ridings it would be carved out of voted NDP at around 60% in 2011. The big question is who would run in this seat, Nycole Turmel (MP for Hull—Aylmer) or Francoise Boivin (MP for Gatineau). My guess is it will be Turmel, as the Hull part of the riding has more people.


This riding contains the western suburban part of Gatineau and the surrounding exurbs. It contains the Aylmer sector of the city, the neighbourhoods of Plateau and Birch Manor in the Hull sector along with the municipalities of Cantley, Chelsea, Pontiac and La Peche. The commission named the riding after the Aylmer sector, where much of the riding would live. However, this name ignores the diversity of this riding which spans from the Ottawa River in the south, into the Gatineau Hills, across Gatineau Park and across the Gatineau River. It would make more sense to reference the Gatineau Hills in the riding name, perhaps calling it “Aylmer—Les Collines-de-l'Outaouais”, or “Aylmer—Les Collines”.

The proposed Aylmer riding takes in part of the current riding of Hull—Aylmer and part of the riding of Pontiac. All of the Aylmer sector went NDP in 2011, while the parts of the Pontiac riding in this new Aylmer riding are very NDP friendly as well (except for the community of of Quyon. Pontiac's MP, NDPer Mathieu Ravignat would see his riding split up with this map. However, most of his strength came in the part of the riding that would be transferred to this riding. As well, he would live in this riding too. I predict that if he runs again, it will be here.


This riding takes in eastern Gatineau suburbs and surrounding exurbs. It contains the municipalities of L'Ange-Gardien, Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette and Val-des-Monts as well as the communities of Buckingham, Masson and Angers and the neighbourhoods of Limbour, Mont-Luc, Templeton-Est and Old Gatineau. The riding was named after the Petite-Nation seigneury acquired by Joseph Papineau in 1803. The problem with this is, the seignuery is actually located further downstream the Ottawa River. And, it is also the name of a river, which is also found in that area. I fail to see the connection between the proposed riding and a region that is located downstream from the area. Perhaps a better name for the riding would be “Gatineau—Du Lievre”, after the Du Lievre river which flows through the eastern part of the riding.

Petite-Nation would be carved out of the present ridings of Gatineau and Pontiac. Both portions of those ridings given to Petite-Nation are very NDP friendly, with just one Tory poll in Val-des-Monts in the Pontiac riding. It is likely that Gatineau NDP MP Francoise Boivin would chose this riding to run in.


This proposed riding would included the Regional County Municipalities (MRCs) of Pontiac, Antoine-Labelle, Papineau, La Vallee-de-la-Gatineau and the western 2/5ths of Les Laurentides. The riding is quite large, taking in much of rural western Quebec. It stretches from the communities along the Ottawa River upstream from Montabello into the interior of the province, taking in the communities of the Laurentian Mountains. The riding would encircle the Outaouais region which would be in the three previous ridings I mentioned. This riding would take in parts of three current ridings. It takes the MRCs of Pontiac and La Valee-de-la-Gatineau from the riding of Pontiac, it takes the MRC of Papineau from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel and it takes in Antoine-Labelle and part of Les Laurentides from Laurentides—Labelle. The proposed name for the riding takes in the fact that the riding consists of the Pontiac region of Quebec, as well as the Upper Laurentian Mountains (Laurentides in French). However, the name excludes the MRC of Papineau, which is in neither region. Perhaps calling the riding “Pontiac—Hautes-Laurentides—Papineau” would be better.

This riding has no real predecessor riding, as it takes in large parts of three previous ridings. I don't think any of the current Members of Parliament will run in this riding. In any event, the NDP will have the upperhand in the riding, as it won the most polls here out of all the parties. However, it does take in some of the least NDP parts of the three ridings it comes from. The Pontiac MRC is very Conservative, while the Papineau and Antoine-Labelle MRCs have strong BQ areas. However, these will not be enough to hurt the NDP's chances in this new riding. The Conservatives did hold the riding of Pontiac from 2006 to 2011 thanks to the heavily Anglo Pontiac MRC which will now be in this proposed riding. However, this new riding would be considerably less Anglo, as it leaves out the northern Gatineau exurbs which helped the Tories win the Pontiac riding.


At 104,000, this riding is slightly above the provincial average of 101,000. To bring the riding down to size, the commission proposes removing the Valcanton area of the riding, which is currently the northern appendage of the riding. On paper, this move makes sense, as the area is the only part of the riding not in the Abitbi—Temiscamingue region of the province, as it's located north of region's border, in Nord-du-Quebec. However, removing this part of the riding is a mistake in my opinion, because the area is more linked to the Abitibi region to its south, rather than the riding of Abitibi—Nunavik it would be joining. It is connected by a highway to the nearby community of La Sarre in Abitbi, but to get to the rest of the Nunavik riding, you have to travel by unreliable forestry roads that are not provincially maintained. The population of 104,000 is fine, and since the region might end up losing population (something it has avoided, surprisingly) due to economic reasons, it is okay to be a bit over the average. Plus, the loss of Valcanton only reduces the riding size by 800 people. Politically, the change would make no difference, as the 3 polls in Valcanton voted NDP just like most of the rest of the riding.


The present riding of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou geographically takes up more than half the province's land area, but is also the least populated riding in the province, with 85,000 people. But, considering the size of the riding, this is completely acceptable, and it also falls with the 25% variance. Considering other province's liberal use of creating ridings that are deemed “exceptional circumstances” and fall below this threshold, it's a surprise that Quebec never did this considering how big this riding is.

The commission decided to just make two alterations to the riding's boundaries. First, it added the Valcanton area. As noted, I feel is unnecessary, especially considering that despite the riding being under populated, Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou is still a growing riding (it saw a population increase) that doesn't need areas
added to its already huge size. The second change was to move the east-west border it shares with the riding of Manicouagan up from the southern boundary of Kativik (th 55th parallel) to the 56th parallel. This unites the non-contiguous parts of the riding that existed due to the Kativk boundary “going through” the boundary with Labrador. This is only done for esthetics however, since the communities affected are only connected to the rest of Quebec through Labrador anyways. This boundary change does not affect anyone, as the area is uninhabited. There is a Naskapi vilage municipality in the area (Kawawachikamach), but it is uninhabited. All together, the riding only loses about 800 people. These changes do no affect the political make up of the riding. It is already an NDP riding that would be gaining 3 NDP-won polls.

Despite the lack of major changes to the riding, the commission decided to renamed the riding, to much shorter “Abitibi—Nunavik”. This probably won't fly because it neglects all of the territory between the Abitibi city of Val-d'Or and the Inuit region of Nunavik in the far north. This ignores the Cree villages and the White communities in between. That is why the present name of the riding has been settled. Considering the current MP for the riding (Romeo Saganash) is a Cree, the dropping of “Eeyou” from the riding name probably will not fly. Eeyou Istchee is the name of the Cree controlled territory in the riding. Since the riding consists of all of the region of “Nord-du-Quebec” plus the Abitibi area MRC of La Vallee-de-l'Or, perhaps a better and more neutral name for the riding (and shorter!) should be Abitibi—Nord-du-Quebec. I know, I have expressed a distaste at using names that use a directional and a province in the title, but “Nord-du-Quebec” is an official region of the province, so I can make an exception. Of course, one can always keep the current name, despite how long it is.

You can read the proposal here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Nova Scotia federal riding boundary proposal analysis

Nova Scotia's current riding boundaries
Nova Scotia's federal boundary commission released its proposed boundaries on Thursday. Nova Scotia currently has 11 ridings, and will not be gaining any ridings. However, the commission did have to change some boundaries to reflect the population imbalance between the growing Halifax Metro area, and the rural areas, most of which is seeing a population decline.

Cape Breton Island has seen the most population loss in the province, and so the commission had to deal with that at one end of the province. Meanwhile, the Halifax West riding saw the largest population increase, and so that had to be dealt with as well. The result of these two areas shifting their boundaries to reflect population changes meant that most of the other ridings in the province had to be shifted over, in a domino effect.

Nova Scotia's proposed riding boundaries

The commission also decided to keep two ridings unchanged. The riding of Sydney—Victoria, on Cape Breton Island was un-altered despite having a net loss of 6000 people in the last 10 years. Its new population of 73,000 is 11,000 smaller than the provincial average. However, this is still within the 25% variance allowed by the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act. The other riding that was unchanged was the riding of Halifax (actually, there was a minor alteration that didn't displace any people in the process). The riding of Halifax now has 93,000 people – 9,000 more than the provincial average. In my opinion, the decision to leave Halifax alone was a bad idea, as it is a growing riding, and should be smaller. It also contains a few out ports that probably belong in a neighbouring riding, as they do not fit the urban character of the riding.

The Halifax Metro area saw the most changes in the proposal, with the riding of Sackville—Eastern Shore being altered the most. Some of the changes that are proposed seem rather odd, like splitting the community of Bedford up, or giving the Shubenacadie Grand Lake area to the riding of Kings—Hants. However some changes did make sense, such as moving the Eastern Passage area into the riding of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, which is a better fit than its present riding of Sackville—Eastern Shore which it is isolated from.

Politically, the NDP is probably the biggest beneficiaries of this map. Suddenly, ridings like South Shore—St. Margaret's, Halifax West and Central Nova become possible target ridings, while Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, a seat they hold presently becomes much safer. The only downside for the NDP is that Sackville—Eastern Shore becomes less safe for the party, but it's a super safe riding anyways, and the boundary changes wont take that fact away from them.

While the Conservatives should be worried about the possibility of losing a couple of ridings to the NDP, they should be comforted by the fact that West Nova becomes much safer for them, and Kings—Hants becomes a possible pick up. The Liberals on the other hand are the big losers here, as they may lose up to two of their four seats in the province.

Here is analysis of the nine ridings that will be changing: 

Cape Breton—Canso

The large losses of population on Cape Breton Island was not ignored by the commission. While both ridings on the island are still within the 25% population variance, it was decided to make the least populated of the two ridings, Cape Breton—Canso larger. Cape Breton—Canso is currently the least populated riding in the province, and is also the riding that is losing population the fastest. The riding currently spans the Strait of Canso, connecting rural parts of Cape Breton Island with the eastern half of Guysborough County on the mainland. The population of the riding is just 68,000, well bellow the provincial average of 84,000.

The commission decided to add population to the riding, so it moved the riding's western boundary further west, taking in more of the mainland. The proposed riding now takes in the eastern third of Antigonish County, including the community of Havre Boucher. The riding now includes more of Guysborough County as well taking in the eastern fifth of the District Municipality of St. Mary's. These alterations only add about 6000 people, apparently sufficient enough for the commission.

I'm not sure why the commission didn't just add all of Antigonish County to the riding, instead of making the awkward boundary (it splits up Antigonish County and St. Mary's) that it did. The proposed riding would isolate the eastern portion of St. Mary's with the rest of the riding, as it would only be connected via a Ferry to the rest of the riding. Another option would be to just let the two Cape Breton ridings be under populated, and maybe move the boundary eastward to make Cape Breton—Canso closer to the population of Sydney—Victoria. After all, Cape Breton Island shares a unique community of interest, and I believe should never have even cross the Strait of Canso in the first place. Even today, you can create two ridings on Cape Breton Island that would be within 25% of the average provincial riding. It would be close, but you can still do it. And why not? It makes more sense than what the New Brunswick commission did with Miramichi.

As for the name, I never understood why the riding wasn't named “Cape Breton—Guysborough” (after the Municipal District of Guysborough) or even Cape Breton—Chedabucto. What makes the Town of Canso so special? There are other communities on the mainland that are just important like Guysborough and Mulgrave. If the proposed changes go through though, Cape Breton—Canso might not be a bad name, as it could be said to be named after the Strait.

Politically, the Liberal riding of Cape Breton—Canso is about to get more Conservative, as it eats into the Tory held riding of Central Nova. All of the new territory gained is solidly Conservative, except for the Paq'tnkek Reserve which went NDP. However, Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner should still feel safe in this riding. 

Central Nova

This riding, named for its location in the province is another riding losing population, and is the second least populated riding in the province at 72,000. It even has less people than Sydney—Victoria on Cape Breton. With the commission moving Cape Breton—Canso westward, that means Central Nova has to lose another 6,000 people. So, the commission had to make Central Nova bigger. The commission recommended taking the Musquodoboit Valley from the riding of Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley as well as that same valley located in the riding of Sackville—Eastern Shore. These changes bring the riding up to a population of 78,000. Still too small, but close enough. This change unites the entire Musquodoboit Valley in one riding which is nice. I never liked the name “Central Nova” for the riding, since the province's name (or in this case, part of it) should never be in a riding name (with the exception of Labrador). But, the alternative would be something long and contrived (how about Pictou—Antigonish—St. Mary's—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore?), so I guess it'll have to stay.

This riding went pretty comfortably for Conservative MP Peter McKay in 2011, but he has been targeted by opposition parties in the past. Most notable by Green Party leader Elizabeth May in 2008. This seat has been a fiefdom for the McKay family. His father held the riding for 21 years, and Peter McKay himself has held the seat since 1997. Since then, the NDP has been the closest to defeating him, coming within 3,300 votes of beating him in 2006. It may not be possible for the NDP to win the riding with its current boundaries, but it may be possible with the proposed boundaries. As mentioned, the areas being lost to Cape Breton—Canso are very Conservative, while the areas being gained are more NDP friendly. The western end of the Musquodoboit Valley is NDP friendly, while the new territory from Sackville—Eastern Shore went NDP, backing popular MP Peter Stoffer in that riding. Perhaps former NDP leadership contender Martin Singh, who would be living in this proposed riding would run and give McKay a run for his money?


At 88,000 people, the current riding of Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley, located in the province's north- is too large. But only by just 4000 people. Nevertheless the commission decided to remove the portions of the riding located within the Halifax Regional Municipality (the Musquodobit Valley area) to Central Nova. This takes out 6000 people, making the new population of the riding 82,000, now under the average. Now the riding solely consists of Cumberland and Colchester Counties. This change makes this safe Conservative riding even more safe, as it removes one of the best areas of the riding for the NDP.

Sackville—Porters Lake

The Halifax Metro area is pretty much the only part of the province seeing an increase in population, so the ridings located in this part of the province had to be altered quite a bit. No riding in the province saw its proposed boundary change more than this riding, which is currently called Sackville—Eastern Shore. Sackville—Eastern Shore is the second fastest growing riding in the province, and now has a population of 91,000. As mentioned earlier, a small chunk of the riding was removed and given to Central Nova (the area around Musquodoboit Harbour). As for the western boundary, it was significantly altered by the commission. Firstly, the area around Shubenacadie Grand Lake was removed and given to Kings—Hants. Secondly, it was decided to split the community of Bedford up by adding the eastern third of the community into the riding. The commission also added The Lakes area of Dartmouth to the riding, while at the same time removing the Eastern Passage part of the riding. I'm not sure the reason for these boundary changes. Splitting the community of Bedford seems rather bizarre. However, removing the Eastern Passage area makes sense as it is currently geographically isolated for the rest of the riding. Giving it to next-door Dartmouth—Cole Harbour is a good move. All of these changes put the population of the riding at 86,000. A good size for a riding.

Since the riding would no longer contain much of the Eastern Shore area of the province, the commission replaced “Eastern Shore” in the name of the riding, and added “Porters Lake”, a community in the eastern part of the riding. I don't like this name though, as it excludes all of the area between Sakcville which is at one end of the riding and Porters Lake which is at the other. It also totally ignores all of that part of Dartmouth now in the riding. Why not name the riding “Sackville—The Lakes”, as it takes in the Lakes district of Dartmouth, and the rest of the riding is also spotted with many lakes. You can't go far in the proposed riding without hitting a lake.

The riding is presently the safest NDP riding in the province, thanks to the popularity of Peter Stoffer, the MP. However, the changes to his riding might put a dint into his numbers. The Lakes District of Dartmouth and eastern Bedford are both Liberal areas, and they're being added to the riding. The parts of the riding he would be losing are safe NDP areas, but then again it's hard for any part of this riding to not lose NDP areas. On the bright side for Stoffer, all three Conservative polls in his riding would be removed and given to nearby ridings.

Dartmouth—Cole Harbour

Dartmouth—Cole Harbour currently has a population of 89,000. Slightly too big, but not a huge deal. However, thanks to the new western boundary of the Sackville riding, the whole riding of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour moved south. It loses the Lakes District of Dartmouth, but gains the Eastern Passage area from Sackville—Eastern Shore. This area, as mentioned, is geographically isolated from the rest of the riding. With the new addition, I would like to see the riding's name changed to “Dartmouth—Cole Harbour—Eastern Passage”. The area gained has about the same population as the area lost, meaning the population wouldn't change. However, what would change is the riding's politics. In 2011, the current NDP MP, Robert Chisholm won by just 500 votes over the incumbent Liberal MP, Michael Savage. The proposed changes to the riding's boundaries would make the riding more NDP friendly. It removes the Liberal Lakes District, and adds the Eastern Passage area which was loyal to NDP MP Peter Stoffer.

Halifax West

Halifax West, which includes the western suburbs of the city is also the fastest growing riding in the province, and the most populous, being home to 98,000. This makes the riding much too large, and it needs to lose people. The commission proposed removing the eastern third of Bedford, as well as the Terrence Bay area, which was geographically isolated from the rest of the riding anyways, being an out port on the Atlantic Ocean, miles away from the rest of the riding. These two changes bring the riding down to a population of 86,000.

Halifax West was a tight three-way race in 2011, with the Liberal MP Geoff Regan taking the seat by 2500 votes over the Conservative candidate, and 3000 votes over the NDP candidate. Losing Bedford is bad news for Regan, as the area being lost is a strong Liberal community. Most of the population being lost is in this area. However, the rural out ports in the southern end of the riding which are also being lost were not so friendly to Regan. Much of this area voted NDP and Conservative. The proposed changes make the riding less Liberal friendly, but I do not believe the put either the Tories or NDP on top. But it does make things a lot closer, and Regan should be concerned.

South Shore—St. Margaret's

At 82,000, South Shore—St. Margaret's makes for a good riding size. However, due to the shrinking Halifax West riding, which neighbours South Shore—St. Margaret's on the east, the whole South Shore riding had to be moved over to the east. The commission proposed moving the Terrence Bay area from Halifax West to South Shore—St. Margaret's. To compensate for this change, the western boundary of the riding had to be moved eastward. The commission decided to remove the western part of the District Municipality of Barrington (including Cape Sable Island)- basically the part of the municipality west of Barrington Bay. The changes increase the population of the riding by just 1000 people. Personally, I would rename this riding to “South Shore”, as St. Margaret's Bay is still part of the South Shore, and the new addition of Terrence Bay is as well (but it not on St. Magaret's Bay). The current name implies the South Shore region ends at St. Margaret's, and leaves out the new addition of Terrence Bay.

The last few elections in this riding have been heavily competitive, but Conservative MP Gerald Keddy has hung on to the riding. The 2008 race was decided by less than 1,000 votes. With the unpopularity of the provincial governing NDP, Keddy was able to defeat his New Democratic opponent by a larger margin in 2011, winning the seat by just under 3,000 votes. If the next election proves to be another close one on the south shore, then the new boundaries will make an NDP pick up more likely. The Terrence Bay area being added to the riding is more NDP than it is Tory, while the Barrington West/Cape Sable Island area being lost is solidly Tory.

West Nova

With 84,000 people, the West Nova riding is the perfect size for a riding in Nova Scotia, as it is also the provincial average. However, the riding is losing people quite quickly, and it wont be long before it is below the average. I suppose this is why the commission decided there was no problem with increasing the riding's population by adding the Barrington West area from South Shore—St. Margaret's. This change is fairly significant, adding 6,000 people to the riding. It also makes the riding significantly less Francophone. 15% of the riding is currently Francophone, the largest proportion in Nova Scotia adding Barrington West and Cape Sable Island to the riding would make the Francophone population even more a minority in this riding. I believe that it is unnecessary to make West Nova even smaller due to this fact. As for the name, as I mentioned in my analysis of Central Nova, I don't like these types of names, but as is the case for Central Nova, it is unavoidable here. Especially with the new territory. Calling it “Kings—Annapolis—Digby—Yarmouth—Barrington West” would be ridiculous.

West Nova has had some very close elections over the years. The riding has not been decided by more than 5,000 votes since 1993. Both the Liberals and the Tories are very competitive in this area, and so any boundary changes are going to make a big difference here. The current MP for the riding is Greg Kerr, a Conservative. He won the seat by 4,600 votes over the former MP, Liberal Robert Thibault. This was there third re-match after Thibault won in 2006 by 500 votes and Kerr won it in 2008 by 1,600 votes. Unsurprisingly, the Francophone parts of the riding are the most Liberal parts (or at least most pro-Thibault, who is a Francophone). And as the riding becomes more Anglophone with the addition of the Barrington West & Cape Sable Island areas, the area becomes more Conservative (the area votes Conservative anyways), turning this riding into a relatively safe Tory seat.


At 83,000, Kings—Hants is a nicely sized riding, just under the provincial average. However, the commission decided to remove the Shubenacadie Grand Lake area from Sackville—Eastern Shore and put it in with Kings—Hants. This addition adds 5000 people to the riding. I'm not sure why this was done, as it adds a Halifax area (the area is within the Halifax Regional Municipality) to a riding that is based more in northern Nova Scotia. This shift in my opinion wasn't necessary. However, if the commission does go with this plan, I would propose changing the name of the riding to “Hants—Kings—Shubenacadie”. This is because the Subenacadie Grand Lake area is neither in Kings nor Hants County. Hants should go first in the name because the riding contains all of Hants County, and only half of Kings County.

The area being gained is a strong NDP area, because it comes from Peter Stoffer's district, and he is a very popular MP. However, Kings—Hants is not an NDP riding. It is a comeptitive riding between the Liberals and Tories. So, the question is, will the new territory go Liberal or Conservative? Provincially this area is an NDP district, but before the NDP won it, it was Tory. Plus, the Tories finished a distant second in the area in the 2011 federal election. Liberal MP Scott Brison only won in 2011 by 1,110 votes, so this change could put him in jeopardy of losing the riding. 

You can read more about the proposals on the redistribution website, here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

British Columbia federal riding boundary proposal analysis part 3 (Northern Lower Mainland)

Current riding boundaries

Part three of my analysis of British Columbia's proposed ridings focuses on the Northern Lower Mainland. Mainly, the north shore of the Burrard Inlet, the City of Burnaby, and the eastern suburbs of Vancouver on the north side of the Fraser River as far as Maple Ridge. This region has a population of about 823,000 people. The region presently has seven ridings, but it is set to gain one more.

The new riding being proposed for the region is perhaps the most troublesome issue with the commission's proposal for the area. The reason for this is, the proposed riding (Burnaby North—Seymour) spans the Burrard Inlet, connecting two very different communities of interest. What's more is there is no connection between the two areas in the riding. You have to leave the riding briefly to cross over on to the other side.

Proposed riding boundaries

Another point of contention is the fact that the city of Port Coquitlam, currently all within the riding of Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam will now be divided into 3 separate ridings. Two of which will not even use the name of the city in their proposed names.

Finally, my last point of contention is that there are a number of ridings in the region that are under populated. Now, the area is home to a lot of fast growing communities, but the fact that some of the ridings are going to have less than 100,000 people (the average riding population in BC will be 105,000) means that there will be ridings in other parts of the province that are too large.

Overall, the proposed changes benefit the Conservatives the most in this area. The new riding of Burnaby North—Seymour looks to be a safe Conservative seat, while another proposed riding (Port Moody—Coquitlam) looks like it may have lost its NDP edge (although that might not matter with the NDP polling higher these days).

Here are the proposed ridings:

West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea To Sky Country

This riding, located northwest of Vancouver is much too large at present, being home to 134,000 people. To bring it down to size, the commission removed two sections of the riding. It removed the Powell River area, as well as the neighbourhoods of Pemberton Heights and Norgate in the city of North Vancouver. These two neighbourhoods are the only populated parts of that city located within the riding.

Powell River is a mixed area, with the north end are the areas around the city being NDP, while the south end of the city is Conservative. Therefore the loss of this region wont affect the political make up of the riding too much. The area being lost in North Vancouver is a more Tory friendly area, but is more moderate than its neighbours in the City of West Vancouver. The new population of the riding will be 106,000. While the riding would lose 28,000 people, it would not be changed that much politically.

North Vancouver

At 127,000, the riding of North Vancouver is much too large. West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea To Sky County's loss of Pemberton Heights and Norgate has meant that North Vancouver has to take that area as well. So, some of the riding has to be removed. The commission decided to take out the part of the riding to the east of Lynn Creek. This area being lost (the Mt Seymour area) is more Conservative than the rest of the riding. The political make up of the riding wouldn't change much though, as Norgate and Pemberton Heights are also Conservative areas. The population of the new riding would be 107,000.

Burnaby North—Seymour

This is a brand new riding that the commission has proposed and is probably the most controversial. Why? Well, it combines two different areas, separated by the Burrard Inlet, that are only connected by a bridge that isn't even in the riding (it's located just outside the boundary). The riding combines the Seymour area of North Vancouver (the south slop of Mt. Seymour), with the northern 1/3rd of Brunaby, north of the Lougheed Highway (currently in Burnaby—Douglas). The consensus seems to be that this bizarre set up is unavoidable, because the north shore of the Greater Vancouver area has gotten too big for 2 ridings, and so, one had to cross the Burrard Inlet somewhere. Going east would be even worse, because that would mean crossing Indian Arm, and there are no bridges connecting the area with the Port Moody suburbs on the other side. However, if you take out Squamish and Whistler from West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, and move that riding into North Vancouver, and move North Vancouver eastward into the Seymour area, you solve this problem. Anyways, I would prefer this riding to be named “Burnaby—Seymour” instead, though that's just semantics. While having the word north is more accurate, ridings tend to not have directional names in the name when an area is combined with another.

Burnaby North—Seymour would probably be a Conservative riding. The north end of Burnaby is the most Conservative part of the city, while the Seymour area in North Vancouver is very Conservative.

Burnaby South—Deer Lake

This riding would be located in the southwestern corner of Burnaby, but also includes the central part of Burnaby, around Deer Lake and Burnaby Lake. About half of the riding is created out of the current Burnaby—New Westminster riding, and the other half comes from Burnaby—Douglas. The riding has an odd shape, with an appendage sticking out to include the area around Charles Rummel Park that is mostly isolated from the rest of the riding. I believe the ridings in the city could be reconfigured to avoid this situation.

This riding would probably vote NDP, but contains the more conservative part of Burnaby—New Westminster, and some Conservative areas from Burnaby—Douglas. However, most of the riding is NDP friendly. With the creation of Burnaby North—Seymour, a series of (reverse?) musical chairs for the sitting members of Parliament and where they choose to run. None of the NDP MP's in the area are likely to run in the Seymour riding, so that would force the Burnaby—Douglas MP Kennedy Stewart to run in this riding. Although much of the area would be new to him, since his current riding consists of the north half of the city.

New Westminster—Burnaby East

This proposed riding would re-unite the City of New Westminster in one riding (except for a small area south of the North Arm which has been removed from the riding), and also takes in the neighbouring parts of Burnaby. Presently, New Westminster is located in two separate ridings. The eastern half is in New Westminster—Coquitlam, and the western half is in Burnaby—New Westminster. The Burnaby part of the riding is completely located in the current riding of Burnaby—New Westminster. This riding looks good on a map, as it's nice and compact, and contains two close knit areas, that have a similar community of interest. Again, I would drop the orientation “East” from the riding name, giving it a better sounding name, “New Westminster—Burnaby”.

This riding would be a very safe NDP riding, as it contains the most NDP-friendly parts of Burnaby, and combines it with New Westminster which a very NDP friendly city in its own right. Most of the riding comes from Burnaby—New Westminster, so it's safe to suggest that its MP, Peter Julian would want to run in this riding. He also lives in New Westminster, so it only makes sense to run there.

Port Moody—Coquitlam

This riding would come mostly from the current riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam. Except, without the New Westminster part, plus it gains some territory to compensate. The riding would now have its eastern border moved from the Coquitlam /Port Coquitlam boundary eastward to Shaughnessy Street in Port Coquitlam, taking in a few neighbourhoods in from that city. Since the Coquitlam part of this riding is bigger than the Port Moody part, the name of the riding in my opinion should actually be “Coquitlam—Port Moody”. That's just my suggestion (one wonders why Port Moody was left out of the name for the riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam”. Another problem with this riding is its population of 98,000 is very small, perhaps too small for the riding. The commission has justified these undersized ridings in fast growth areas, such as this part of the province. While it's acceptable in my opinion to have undersized ridings in fast growing areas, this riding is too underpopulated.

New Westminster—Coquitlam is already a riding where the Tories and NDP are running very close to eachother. NDP MP Fin Donnelly won the riding by just 2200 votes in 2011. Losing New Westminster, an NDP stronghold is bad news for him. What's worse, is that the new gained territory-albeit small is very Conservative. However, given the NDP's current polling numbers, I wouldn't be surprised if he still wins the riding, should he choose to run there.

Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam 
At 130,000 the fast growing riding of Port Moody—Westwood--Port Coquitlam had to be shrunk down. The commission decided to remove parts of the riding located in the city of Port Coquitlam. Presently, all of Port Coquitlam is in the riding, however the commission proposed moving all of the riding south of the Lougheed Highway into two other ridings, splitting the city into three. This would bring down the size of the riding to 104,000 people.

My big question is why did the riding's name change? The only areas lost were in Port Coquitlam. Also, the proposed name sounds redundant, mentioning Coquitlam twice. That's probably why “Westwood” is in the name currently, as that's the part of Coquitlam in the riding. Also, the new name of the riding leaves out Port Moody altogehter, just like the current riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam leaves out Port Moody. However, the two ridings represent two different parts of Port Moody. Anyways, I would suggest keeping the name of this riding as “Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam”.

Every single poll south of the Lougheed Highway went Conservative, so it's possible that the riding has become less Conservative, albeit not by much. The riding still includes the wealthy northern parts of Coquitlam and Port Moody, making the riding still Conservative in its nature.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge

This riding would come mostly from the existing riding of Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission. At 132,000 the riding is currently too large, which is why the commission had to carve out a large chunk of it. The commission decided to remove all of the District of Mission from the riding, as well as a rural part of eastern Maple Ridge. They moved the boundary westward to 248 St in Maple Ridge, removing the communities of Websters Corners and Whonnock from the riding in addition to Mission. The riding also has to gain some territory, as a large part of Port Coquitlam was removed from the riding of Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam. The part contains much of the southern half of Port Coquitlam, south of the Lougheed Hwy and east of Shaughnessy Street. This new chunk in Port Coquitlam is geographically isolated from the rest of the riding, because the Pitt River separates the area from Pitt Mewadows. The only connection is the Lougheed Hwy, which crosses the river as the riding's boundary. With the new addition of part of Port Coquitlam, I wonder why the commission left out the community in the riding name. Why not call the riding “Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Port Coquitlam”? These changes would put the population of the riding at just 97,000. The riding is located in a fast growing area of province, but this is just too small for my liking.

Currently, the riding is mostly Conservative, but has two pockets of NDP strength in the downtown sections of Maple Ridge and Mission. The riding has been an NDP target in the past, especially when the Liberals were strong enough to eat into the Tory vote. However, with the loss of Mission and the gain of a Conservative part of Port Coquitlam, this riding becomes even more Conservative, and even more impossible for the NDP to gain.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Alberta federal riding boundary proposal analysis part 1 (Edmonton & area)

Current Edmonton ridings
The Alberta federal riding boundary commission released their proposal on Thursday, and due to the large increase in population in the province, there were many changes. The province currently has 28 seats, but is set to expand to a total of 34. This will give the average riding in the province the population of about 107,000. This will be the highest average riding size in the country.

Like BC, Alberta is too large for me to cover in just one post, so I'll be breaking the province up (I promise to finish off BC as well at some point). Part 1 of my Alberta series will focus on Edmonton. Edmonton is the most interesting part of the province politically, because it is the only part of the province where an opposition party holds a seat (the NDP in Edmonton--Strathcona). The commission's proposal makes two other seats vulnerable for the NDP to pick up, and one seat might be vulnerable to an independent pick up, depending on the circumstances.

Presently the Edmonton area has 8 seats. The population of the region has increased to the point that the area is now due for three more seats. Currently, all but 3 ridings in Edmonton extend outside city limits, taking in suburban communities. This was done to keep the region on balance with Calgary which also has 8 seats. The planned proposal by the commission is to reduce the number of ridings spanning the city border to just 2. The plan is to have 7 ridings entirely within the city, two crossing the boundary and two exurban/rural ridings outside the city.

One notable thing the commission has done for both Edmonton and Calgary is to do away with riding names that use orientation in them (East,West, South, North, Centre), and adopt names that (somewhat) reflect the part of the city they're in. I like this idea for some ridings, but not for others. One problem with both cities is that the neighbourhoods are very small, and so adopting a name of a neighbourhood for an entire riding would be inappropriate. Only some parts of the cities are within larger regions, such as the Mill Woods area of Edmonton. Most of the cities however cannot be placed under one geographical region, making using new names difficult. I have found myself making counter proposals in terms of names for nearly every proposed riding.

Proposed boundaries
Here is an analysis of the proposed ridings.

Edmonton Strathcona

At 101,000 people, Edmonton—Strathcona is Alberta's least populated riding and is among the slowest growing. Due to being smaller than the provincial average, the boundary commission actually had to add portions to the riding.

The northern boundary of the riding is the Saskatchewan River, which makes for a nice, natural boundary for the riding. The commission however decided to penetrate this boundary by adding the small neighbourhood of Riverdale, north of the river to the riding. The neighbourhood would be geographically isolated from the rest of the riding, and would only be connect by a bridge. The commission also expanded the riding west, by moving the western boundary from Whitemud Creek to Whitemud Drive, which would add the neighbourhood of Brookside to the riding. The additions of these two small neighbourhoods bring the size of the riding up to a population of 105,000. This is still below the provincial average. Despite this, I think the riding should not have crossed the river to add just one small neighbourhood. The Saskatchewan River makes for a great natural boundary, as does Whitemud Drive. Without Riverdale, the riding would still not be that far off the provincial average.

The Strathcona area in Edmonton is easily the most left wing part of the entire province. Although the riding consists of a much larger area than just the Strathcona part of the city. The riding is currently the lone non-Conservative riding in the entire province, as it is held by NDP MP Linda Duncan. Duncan won the seat comfortably in 2011, and the changes proposed by the commission should not effect her chances. Riverdale, despite being in a Conservative seat at present is a very NDP friendly area. Brookside on the other hand is a Conservative neighbourhood. Overall, the riding only becomes slightly more Conservative.

Edmonton Griesbach

This proposed riding makes up much of the current Edmonton East riding. It lobs off the area east of 66 Street and north of 153 Ave in Edmonton East, and it loses the neighbourhood of Riverdale. To compensate, it adds a number of neighbourhoods from the present riding of Edmonton—St. Albert, namely Wellington, Athlone, Kensington, Calder, Rosslyn, Lauderdale and Griesbach. The latter of which (Griesbach) was used in the proposed name of the riding. This seems like a rather bizarre choice of the commission, as it is very small in terms of population. A more appropriate name for this riding would be Edmonton East—Calder. This name takes into account the former riding of Edmonton East, as well as the name “Calder” (after the neighrbourhood) which is already used in a provincial riding that would share some territory with the proposed riding, including the Calder neighbourhood.

Edmonton Griesbach seems to be an odd creation of a riding. It lumps the more urban areas south of the Yellowhead Trail with more suburban neighbourhoods to its north. This fails in terms of community of interest. I believe it would have made more sense for the riding to move westward into what is now Edmonton Centre to become a more urban oriented riding.

Edmonton East is one of the least Conservative ridings in Alberta, but was good enough for the Tories to win anyways. The proposal for the riding makes the riding more friendly for a possible NDP pick up. While the riding loses the small NDP neighbourhood of Riverdale, it loses much more Conservative territory in the areas north of 153 Ave and east of 66 St. If the new riding did not gain any territory after losing those areas, it would become a marginal riding. However, the new territory gained from Edmonton—St. Albert is quite Conservative federally. Provincially though, a lot of the new territory went NDP in this past election. The Tories may still have the edge here, but look for the NDP to possibly pick up. After all, the incumbent is former Tory MP Peter Goldring who currently sits as an independent. He was kicked out of caucus because he refused to take a breathalyzer test after being pulled over by the police. If he runs again, it would split the right wing vote, and/or the Conservative candidate will not be as strong due to lack of incumbency.

Edmonton Manning

Edmonton Manning is a proposed suburban riding located in the Northeast corner of the city. Most of it comes from the riding of Edmonton—Sherwood Park, but it also has a significant portion coming from Edmonton East as well as a small part of Edmonton—St. Albert. More specifically, the riding takes in the portions of Edmonton—Sherwood Park located within Edmonton city limits, adds the part of Edmonton East east of 66 St and north of 153 Ave and adds the neighbourhoods of Beaumaris and Lorelei from Edmonton—St. Albert. The riding has been named “Manning” after Manning Drive, which bifurcates the proposed riding evenly from the southwest corner to the northeast. Edmonton-Manning is also the name of a provincial riding that completely falls into this proposed district. Another possible name for the riding could be “Edmonton Northeast”. The riding contains no significant opposition areas, and will be a safe Conservative seat. My guess is that Edmonton—Sherwood Park MP Tim Uppal will run in this seat.

Edmonton McDougall

This proposed riding is basically just a smaller version of the Edmonton Centre riding. Edmonton Centre has 123,000 and needs some territory taken out of it to bring it down to size. The commission proposed taking a big chunk out of the southwestern corner of the riding, namely the area west of 156 St and south of Stony Plain Rd. This area is more suburban in nature and probably doesn't belong in the riding anyways. In my mind the riding should be even more urban, and have the areas closer to downtown merged in with parts of Edmonton East. The commission proposes the name “Edmonton McDougall”, after the Central McDougall neighbourhood. I think that this was unnecessary, as the riding has become even more central, so why stop calling it Edmonton Centre? The proposed changes give the riding a population of 108,000.

Edmonton Centre was one of the weakest Conservative seats in the province. They “only” got 48% of the vote here. The areas being lost in this proposal are almost entirely Conservative. This change would make the party very vulnerable against a united opposition. However, in 2011 the Liberals and the NDP split the vote almost evenly. If the two parties were united, they would have almost got the same numbers as the Conservatives. Under this new map, they would have definitely won the seat as a united force.

Edmonton Callingwood

This newly proposed riding consists of Edmonton's western suburban area, and is mostly carved out of the present riding of Edmonton—Spruce Grove. It also contains part of Edmonton Centre. Specifically, it consists of all of the current riding of Edmonton—Spruce Grove within city limits as well the part of Edmonton Centre west of 156 St and south of Stony Plain Rd. The riding would be named after Callingwood Park. I personally think the name chosen is far too specific, and a more generic name like “Edmonton West” would be more appropriate for the riding. The riding will be a safe Conservative seat, as there are few areas of opposition strength. My guess is that Edmonton—Spruce Grove MP Rona Ambrose will run in this riding.

Edmonton Riverbend

This proposed riding makes up a shell of the current riding of Edmonton—Leduc. Edmonton—Leduc is presently one of the most populated ridings in Alberta at 150,000 and is the fastest growing riding in the province. To bring the riding down to size, nearly 1/3 of the riding had to be hacked off. The commission proposed lobbing off the area south of Ellerslie Rd, as well as the neighbourhood of Brookside. The latter of which was given to Edmonton Stratchona. This makes the riding entirely within city limits. This makes the population of the riding 104,000. This is below the provincial average, but that is okay considering it is the fastest growing riding in the province. The riding was named after the bend in the Saskatchewan River, which forms the riding's western boundary. This is a nice sounding name, but ignores the eastern part of the riding entirely. Calling the riding “Edmonton Southwest” might be a better name, although not perfect as the city's extreme southwestern corner would not be in the riding. Overall, the riding remains a safe Conservative seat, although it loses rural areas outside of the city that are very, very Conservative. My guess is that Edmonton—Leduc MP James Rajotte will run here, as he lives in Edmonton.

Edmonton Mill Woods

This planned suburban seat in southeastern Edmonton is a smaller version of the current Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beamont riding. Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont is the second fastest growing riding in the city, and with 137,000 needs a large chunk to be taken out of it. The commission plans on removing all of the riding south of Anthony Henday Drive, leaving just the Mill Woods part of the city in the riding. Thus, the riding is renamed by taking “Beaumont” out of it. Since the remaining territory is actually called Mill Woods, the proposed name for the riding is good. The population would be 106,000. The riding loses much of the super Conservative rural polls around Beaumont, but it remains a safe Tory seat. My guess is that Edmonton—Mill Woods—Beaumont MP Mike Lake will run here.

St. Albert—Edmonton

As the city of St. Albert continues to grow, so does the riding it is in. The current riding of Edmonton—St. Albert now has a population of 137,000. St. Albert makes up nearly half of the riding with 61,000 people. However, since the riding is now too large, the commission decided to eat into the Edmonton parts of the riding to bring the riding down to a population of 105,000. This would give St. Albert a majority of the riding's population, and hence the name change putting St. Albert first in the name. The parts of the riding being lost are the neighbourhoods of Beaumaris and Lorelei (to Edmonton Manning), and Griesbach, Lauderdale, Rosslyn, Kensington, Calder, Wellington and Athlone (to Edmonton Griesbach). While I think that putting St. Albert first in the riding name is a good idea, putting Edmonton second is not. There needs to be some sort of geographic representation of the area of Edmonton it contains in the name. That's why I suggest the name “St. Albert—Castle Downs” or “St. Albert—Edmonton Castle Downs” as a better name. The new riding wouldn't contain all of the Castle Downs part of the city, but it includes most of it, including part of the Castle Downs provincial riding. If that doesn't work, you can always call the riding “St. Albert—Edmonton Northwest”. Anyways, the riding was already quite Conservative to begin with, but the losses do make the riding even more Conservative, as the areas being lost contain some neighbourhoods that voted NDP provincially. Brent Rathgeber, MP for Edmonton—St.Albert will probably run here despite living in Edmonton and not St. Albert.


With the commission deciding to get rid of most of the ridings that extended outside of the city, they were left with no choice for the left over parts of the city along it southern border. This new riding combines Edmonton's furthest south suburban areas (south of Ellerslie Road to Hwy 2 in the southwest part of the city and then south of Anthony Henday Dr. in the southeast) with some exurban and rural areas south of the city, including communities such as Leduc, Beaumont, Wetaskiwin and Devon. The riding would be made up of parts of the current ridings of Edmonton—Leduc (the towns of Leduc, Devon and the southwestern suburbs of Edmonton below Ellerslie), Edmonton—Beaumont (the town of Beaumont and the southeastern suburbs of Edmonton below Anthony Henday Dr), and Wetaskiwin (the northeastern part including the towns of Wetaskiwin, Calmar and Millet). The proposed riding name of Edmonton—Wetaskiwin neglects the fact that the riding also contains a large part of Leduc County (in addition to Wetaskiwin County), including the town of Leduc. That is why I propose that the name of this riding be “Edmonton—Leduc—Wetaskiwin” instead. Especially since Leduc already has the privilege of having its name in the current riding of Edmonton—Leduc. Anyways, the proposed riding is extremely Conservative with most polls giving the Tories at least 80% of the vote. Wetaskiwin's MP is currently Blaine Calkins who lives in Ponoka which is in the proposed riding of Red Deer—Wolf Creek. He may decide to run there instead, making this an open seat.

Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan

This proposed riding is located entirely outside the City of Edmonton, but is made up of Edmonton's eastern suburban areas. Specifically, it contains the entirety of Strathcona County plus the City of Fort Saskatchewan. Currently, Strathcona County is split up between the ridings of Edmonton—Sherwood Park (which includes Fort Saskatchewan) and the riding of Vegreville—Wainwright. The proposed riding is slightly oversized at 112,000 and is a fast growing part of the province. It may have been better for the commission to make a smaller riding. The proposed name is okay, but wouldn't it make more sense to call it “Strathcona County—Fort Saskatchewan”, since it includes all of Strathcona County, nut just its largest community of Sherwood Park? One could also call it Stratchona—Fort Saskatchewan or Strathcona—Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan. That might be confusing though, because of the part of Edmonton that's also called Strathcona. If Independent Conservative James Ford decides to run again like he has in the last two elections, he might be able to win this new riding. In 2008, he did very well in both Fort Saskatchewan and in Sherwood Park in the riding of Edmonton—Sherwood Park, but did not do well in the Edmonton part of the riding. In 2011 he lost a lot of ground, but his base areas were still in those communities. If he can run another strong campaign, and do well in the rest of Strathcona County, he might be able to win. Especially if Tim Uppal decides to run in this new riding, because Ford's decision to run was based on a feud he has with Uppal. However, Uppal lives in Edmonton and I would say he would be more likely to run in the proposed riding of Edmonton Manning.

Sturgeon River

This would be a new riding consisting of Edmonton's northern and western exurban areas. Its main community would be Spruce Grove, but the riding would also include Stony Plain, Onoway, Redwater, Gibbons, Bon Accord, Legal and Morinville. The riding takes in the non-Edmonton parts of Edmonton—Spruce Gove as well as the southwestern corner of Westlock—St. Paul and a small part of Yellowhead. The proposed name for the riding is Sturgeon River, which flows through most of the riding. I think it's a pretty good name, but since the river doesn't come close to the largest community in the riding, Spruce Grove, the name of the riding should rather be “Spruce Grove—Sturgeon River”. Except for a handful of Indian Reserves, this riding is very Conservative. It's possible that Rona Ambrose would run in this riding, but she lives in Edmonton, so I doubt it. It's likely that a new MP would emerge here. 

For more details, you can read the report here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

B.C. federal riding boundary proposal analysis part 2 (City of Vancouver)

Current boundaries
Growth in the City of Vancouver has meant that the city will be getting a new electoral district, increasing its total from five to six. The total population of Vancouver, including the neighbouring University Endowment Lands (which might as well be part of the city) and the Musqueam Indian Reserve, is 618,000. This makes for six ridings that are very close, but a bit under the provincial average of 105,000.

In order to avoid too many of the problems associated with creating new ridings, the commission proposed creating a new riding (Vancouver Granville) small parts of all five existing ridings in the city. This leaves the remaining five ridings only slightly smaller than before. But, it might be enough to change the political landscape of the city. 

Proposed boundaries

Vancouver Quadra

Quadra has historically been Vancouver's western most riding. It consists of the western most part of the city, plus the University Endowment Lands and Musqueam Indian Reserve located on the western edge of the city's border. The riding is the slowest growing in the city, but it is still much too populated, with a population of 121,000. The commission proposes removing the eastern most part of the riding- east of Arbutus and West Blvd and giving that area to the new riding of Vancouver Granville. This removes the affluent neighbourhood of Shaugnessy from the riding, as well as part of Kerrisdale, another affluent part of the city. These changes bring the riding down to a population of 102,000. This is perhaps a little too low considering the low growth rate of the district.

Vancouver Quadra can be seen as the last true bastion of the Liberal Party in Western Canada.It has voted Liberal continuously since 1984, when then Prime Minister John Turner won the seat. This notoriety has meant that the Conservatives have been targeting the riding heavily, and only lost the seat by 2000 votes in 2011. The riding is polarized between the northern neighbourhoods of Kitsilano, West Point Grey and Dunbar that vote Liberal and the southern neighbourhoods of Shaughnessy, Arbutus Ridge, Southlands and Kerrisdale that vote Conservative. The proposed changes cut into this Conservative part of the riding, meaning that the riding will become more safe for the Liberals.

Vancouver Centre

Vancouver Centre is Vancouver's downtown riding, and is indeed its most eclectic. Due to the large condo boom in the riding, the population has ballooned to 137,000- making it the city's most populous riding. This has forced the commission to make what's also Vancouver's smallest riding (in geographical size) even smaller. The commission proposes moving the southern boundary of the riding up from 16th Ave to 6th Ave. This takes out most of the riding south of False Creek leaving only a small part of the Fairview and Mount Pleasant neighbourhoods left in the riding. The boundary shift proposal actually takes in a small part of Vancouver East around the 4th Ave and Quebec St area, but it is mostly commercial. These changes bring the riding down to a population of 104,000- just below the average- room to grow for an area that is growing rapidly.

Vancouver Centre is perhaps the most politically diverse ridings in the city, with all four major parties doing well last election. The riding has been held by Liberal Hedy Fry since 1993, when she defeated then Prime Minister Kim Campbell. Despite the fact that Fry has won this riding for a long time, she has never broken 45% of the vote, and won only 31% of the vote in 2011. That was Fry's worst showing since first being elected. Even still, she won fairly comfortably by 3000 votes over a weak NDP candidate and the Conservatives (who were separated from each other by just 2 votes). The Greens ran a strong campaign, getting 15% of the vote.

Due to its political diversity, the map of Vancouver Centre looks like a mix of all three major parties, especially south of False Creek. The NDP actually won the most amount of polls, thanks a strong showing in the West End area, and winning many polls in Fairview and Mt. Pleasant. The Conservatives saw much of their support in the Downtown core, and along the Harbour where the new Condos are going up. The Tories also won a splattering of polls south of False Creek, thanks to coming up the middle between the NDP and Liberals in many polls. Now, one weak point for the Liberals in this riding is their lack of real strength any where. Hedy Fry has managed to win the riding thanks to coming in 2nd in both the Conservative and NDP areas, but winning few of her own polls. But, if she has strength in any area in particular, its in the area south of False Creek.

The commission's proposal to chop off most of Fairview and Mt Pleasant will probably the final blow for Hedy Fry. This is the part of the riding that she is the strongest in, and it is going to be transferred to the new riding of Vancouver Granville. A stronger NDP campaign would probably result in her losing this seat anyways, even if there were no border changes. Without her strongest neighbourhoods, a loss seems inevitable for her. Of course, with the condo boom influx, the riding might just go Conservative due to demographic shifts.

Vancouver East

The working class east end of Vancouver is also the least populated riding in the city at 110,000 people. It is also experiencing the second slowest growth of the city's five ridings. This means only minor changes for the riding. The commission proposes shifting the southwestern boundary to Main Street down to Kingsway, and then down Kingsway to Prince Edward St. These changes take out just 5000 people, bringing the riding down to the provincial average. Most of the departing area will go to the new riding of Vancouver Granville, but a small part will go to Vancouver Centre.

Vancouver East is easily one of the safest NDP seats in the county. Since its creation in 1935, the riding has voted for the CCF/NDP in all but 2 elections (1974 and 1993). Every single poll in the riding went NDP in 2011 except one, where there was a tie. The area being proposed to be taken out went NDP of course, but its departure wont alter the make up of the riding.

Vancouver Kingsway

At 125,000 people, Kingsway is Vancouver's second most populous riding. This means that a large chunk of the riding had to be removed to make way for the new Vancouver Granville seat. The commission proposes moving the western boundary of the riding from Oak St to Prince Edward St. This shift removes the neighbourhoods of Sotuh Cambie and Riley Park from the riding. These changes bring the riding's total population down to just 101,000.

Vancouver Kingsway, located in Vancouver's working class east end has become a safe NDP seat since MP Don Davies first won it in 2008. His worst part of the riding was the southwestern corner of the riding around Queen Elizabeth Park. The commission has proposed removing this entire area from the riding, making it a super safe seat for Davies.

Vancouver South

The south end of Vancouver is very ethnically diverse, being home to large numbers of Chinese and East Indian populations. The population of the riding sits at 124,000, meaning it too will need to lose a large chunk of people to bring it down to size. The commission proposes moving the western boundary of the riding from Granville St to Heather St. This removes part of the Marpole and Oakridge neighbourhoods from the riding. This change reduces the amount of Chinese people living in the riding, as Oakridge especially has a high Chinese population. These changes bring the riding down to a population of 104,000 not to far below the provincial average.

The 2011 election featured a match up between candidates representing both ethnic groups. The riding is quite a bit more Chinese however, and thanks to a Chinese candidate and the general trend among Chinese Canadians to go Tory, this riding went Conservative in 2011 for the first time since 1988. However, from 1993 to 2011, the riding has been held by Liberal East Indians in Herb Dhaliwal and Ujjal Dosanjh. The East Indian parts of the riding are therefore more Liberal friendly, while the Chinese parts vote Conservative. Since the area being lost is mostly Chinese, these changes hurt the Conservatives in this riding, especially in their Chinese incumbent of Wai Young. She only won the riding by 4000 votes, and a strong Chinese or Indian candidate from the left will pose a tough challenge for her.

Vancouver Granville

What has been taken away from the other five ridings has created a new riding, in central Vancouver to make up the spine of the city. The new riding will be centred around Granville Street, and will therefore be named after this street. The riding will be home to a diverse group of people, but for the most part will be rather affluent. If you've been paying attention, you'll know that the riding will take in parts of the neighbourhoods of Fairview, Mount Pleasant, Shaughnessy, South Cambie, Riley Park, Kerrisdale, Oakridge and Marpole. The population of the proposed riding is 102,000, again slightly under the provincial average.

Vancouver Granville will be a blessing for the Conservatives, a party that holds just one seat in the city at present (and where they had none prior since 1988). The Conservatives will be benefited from the fact that this new riding takes in the most Conservative-friendly parts of Vancouver Quadra and Vancouver Kingsway in particular, and also takes in a mostly Conservative part of Vancouver South. While the north end of the riding will be more progressive, it wont be enough to overtake the Conservatives.


The redistribution proposal looks to be the most beneficial for the Conservatives who will see one super safe riding carved out of the middle of the city, seemingly just for them. The proposal will in all likelihood double the amount of seats they have in the city, and could result in an even split with each of the Liberals, Tories and NDP getting 2 seats. However, the Liberals should be very worried about this proposal. While they should feel comfortable knowing that Quadra will be a safer Liberal seat, this boundary plan may mean the loss of Hedy Fry. As for the NDP, they need not worry about their current 2 seats, and should feel good about their prospects in a more NDP-friendly Vancouver Centre.

As for the geographic merits of the proposal, it is pretty sound. While all of the ridings are either at or below the provincial average, Vancouver's expected growth will soon rectify that. And, the overall population of the city meant that extending any of the ridings outside of the city limits would not be worth the community of interest aspect. If I could make any change, it would be to make Vancouver Centre smaller, because it needs more room to grow thanks to all of the new condos there. I would also make Vancouver Quadra a bit bigger because it is seeing less growth. 

Bonus map! 
To help with future predictions of how the ridings in Vancouver will go, I made this handy "ideology" map of the city, with the proposed riding boundaries marked. Because with the shifting political landscape in the country, anything can happen over the next four years. But what will stay generally the same are people's ideologies marked on this map. The red areas tend vote NDP both federally and provincially and for Vision municipally. The blue areas vote Conservative federally, Liberal provincially and for the NPA municipally. The purple areas are a mix bag that has areas that swing back and forth. Some of these areas are the strongest regions for the federal Liberal Party. But, as they are in decline, look for the NDP and the Conservatives to fight for the purple areas to win seats like Vancouver South and Vancouver Centre.