Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ontario Liberal leadership race - delegate map

Ontario Liberals met last weekend to elect delegates who will be sent to Toronto on the weekend of January 25-27 to elect the next Premier of Ontario. Current Premier and Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty announced last October that he would be resigning as Premier following a vote to elect the next leader of the party.

As a rule, I have been avoiding making maps of provincial party leadership races, but I have decided to change that and begin to cover at least the races of provincial governing parties. As the Liberals are currently in power in Ontario, I have decided to map the leadership race.

Liberal Party members got together in all 107 ridings last weekend, and in various campus clubs and women's organizations to elect a slate of delegates to attend the leadership race. Most elected delegates have committed to vote for a particular candidate, but 67 of the 1875 elected delegates are uncommitted. Former Windsor West MPP and Education Minister Sandra Pupatello won the most delegates (510). Don Valley West MPP and another former Education Minister Kathleen Wynne won the second most amount of delegates at 468. The race is widely expected to be between those two, meaning that Ontario will likely see its first female Premier in its history. To boot, if Wynne wins, she will become the first openly gay (the late former Premier of New Brunswick Richard Hatfield was gay, but in the closet) person to lead a province in Canadian history. In third place is former Parkdale—High Park MP and MPP, and yet another former Minister of Education, Gerard Kennedy. He won 259 delegates. In fourth is Mississauga—Erindale MPP and former Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar. He was the biggest surprise finisher in the delegate fight, picking up 244 delegates, despite few endorsements from current or former caucus members. Close behind him in 5th is another Mississauga MPP (Mississauga South) and former Labour Minister Charles Sousa. He secured 204 delegates. And finally in last place is St. Paul's MPP and former Citizenship and Immigration Minister Eric Hoskins. He won just 105 delegates.

Each of Ontario's 107 ridings will be sending a slate of 16 delegates to the Toronto convention. In addition, a number of Liberal clubs in universities across the province elected delegates, as did a number of Liberal women's clubs. All 6 candidates won at least a plurality of delegates in at least one riding. In fact, last place candidate Hoskins won 2 ridings. Uncommitted delegates won a plurality in two ridings as well (Vaughan and Scarborough—Rouge River). I'm not sure why that happened.

The support that each candidate received across the regions of the province can be attributed to a number of factors. Tribal politics appear to be alive and well in the Liberal Party, as certain ethnic groups have clearly put their support behind certain candidates. Also, it appears that endorsements truly do matter in many cases. Here is an analysis of the support for all six candidates.

Hoskins won just two ridings, and perhaps surprisingly, neither of them is the riding he currently holds in the Ontario Legislature. He lost St. Paul's by just one delegate to Wynne (6-5). He did win an overwhelming majority of delegates in the riding of Haldimand—Norfolk where he ran federally in the 2008 election. He also won the riding of Scarborough—Guildwood where he won the endorsement of its MPP, Magarett Best.

Sousa's support was concentrated in the GTA where he won 9 ridings and tied in 4 others. His best riding was his own, Mississauga South where he won 14 of the 16 delegates. He also did well in Davenport, a riding with a high Portuguese population. He also won York South—Weston, another riding with a high Portuguese population. Sousa himself is Portuguese. Outside of his own riding however, he won no other seats in the Peel Region. He did tie with Takhar in Mississauga East—Cooksville, however. Sousa did fairly well in Scarborough (thanks to endorsements by two local MPPs) where he won three seats and in a handful of exurban ridings.

Takhar's campaign focused heavily on the South Asian community in Ontario. While he finished fourth in delegates, he finished a strong third in total number of ridings won. This indicates that he support was concentrated heavily in the ridings he did well in. Takhar did the best in his home region of Peel, where he won or tied in all but two ridings. He also did well in the northwest corner of Toronto, which is home to a high immigrant population. What's most surprising about his strength was the wins in suburban Ottawa (Nepean—Carleton and Carleton—Mississippi Mills), Niagara West—Glanbrook, Hamilton—Stoney Creek and in the Grand River Valley region (Guelph, Brant, Kitchener-Waterloo, etc). I have no idea why he did so well there.

Kennedy's strength was a mile wide and an inch deep it seems. While he finished third in delegates, he finished fifth in terms of seats won- just eight, and tied in two others. His support was not really concentrated in any particular region of the province. His best riding was of course, Parkdale—High Park which he represented both federally and provincially in the past. He won 10 delegates there. Some of his other wins can be attributed to high profile endorsements, like the ones in Niagara Falls and Brampton West. The other ridings he won are quite random: Sarnia—Lambton, Lambton—Kent—Middlesex, Oxford, Peterborough and Timiskaming—Cochane (plus his two ties, Barrie and Scarborough Centre). Not sure why he won in those seats in particular.

Wynne did strongly in two very different areas of the province, Central Toronto and Central Ontario. The former is a very left wing part of the province, perhaps the most left wing part, while the latter is quite the opposite. While it's easy to explain why left leaning Liberals in Toronto would support Wynne, an open lesbian who happens to hail from the region, but it's harder to explain why she won ridings in the bluest part of the province- Central and Central Eastern Ontario. Wynne's home riding of Don Valley West tied for her best riding, with 13 delegates. Interestingly, and oddly- the other riding to give her 13 delegates was Nipissing. She did receive the endorsement of Nipissing's former MPP, Monique Smith. But, I can't quite explain why Wynne won in conservative leaning ridings like Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, Leeds—Grenville, Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington or Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock. Especially considering the fact that Wynne is widely seen as the “left” candidate- at least compared to Pupatello. My only explanation comes down to religion. This region of the province is highly Protestant, and while I'm not sure what relgion (if any) Wynne is, it's clear that with a name like Pupatello, she certainly is not.

Pupatello has built her delegate lead on a coalition of a number of regions across the province. Namely these are the urban north, Ottawa and the far east, and her home region of Southwestern Ontario. Usually this wouldn't be enough to lead any race, but in this fractured election, it's just enough, if you couple it with a spattering of random ridings in the middle of the province. From the looks of it, Pupatello's Italian heritage seems to have helped her win ridings with high Italian populations. One big exception is Ontario's most Italian riding, Vaughan which saw half its delegates go uncommitted and only two for Pupatello. Pupatello also did well in highly Catholic, and highly Francophone ridings like Ottawa—Vanier, Glengarry—Prescott—Russell and Timmins—James Bay. I'm not sure if Pupatello is even bilingual, so perhaps this support also comes down to religion. Interestingly, Pupatello's best riding was Thunder Bay—Superior North where she won 14 delegates. She was endorsed by both of Thunder Bay's MPPs. She also did well in the other Thunder Bay riding, Thunder Bay-Atikokan, where she won 12 delegates. Her next best ridings were highly Francophone Glengarry—Prescott—Russell and Essex where she won 13 delegates each. Essex is right next door to her former home riding of Windsor West, where she happened to win 12 delegates.

The Ontario Liberal delegate map raises a lot of questions about how leadership contests work, and how people vote. It really is quite fascinating. Does it raise questions about tribal politics? Does it mean endorsements work? For the most part though, many of the things going on in this map are unexplainable by me. Perhaps I just need to know more about the Liberal Party? Anyways, their leadership contest is a week and a half away; and because it is a delegated convention, there will be no way to map the different rounds, so this will have to suffice for now. For more details about the delegate breakdown, click here.


  1. Hey Earl,

    You got to remember that this is a delegate convention and thus subject to the votes of riding association members, and in the case of these "WASPy" ridings out in eastern Ontario, those associations may not necessarily be representative of the actual population - these are active party members who may prove to be exceptions to the rule, so to speak.

    There is also the matter of influence of party brass, former candidates, and organizers. If you are out in Lanark, your former candidate or the executive has a lot of influence on your vote, on organization, and even who exactly gets access to the ballot.

    If you have an active and competent organizer out there as well, what I presume to be small riding associations are more easily handled and organized for your campaign. I can easily see Wynne going out to these little associations and essentially taking them over - on a federal scale, it would be like candidates taking over Western ridings with no one to really stop them.

    Not that I'm saying these things happened, of course - just that the nature of this delegate vote means that party politics seems to play a lot more into how these ridings go, rather than demographics.

  2. True. Obviously the number of Liberals in these ridings are quite small. I'm just wondering what actuallty did happen. It wasn't too long ago that Renfrew County was a Liberal bastion- but that was back in the days when the OLP was to the right of the Tories. I wonder if there are any old time Liberals still left out there. Probably not.

    Thanks for your insight. I've been eager to hear a Liberal's explanation.

  3. Charles Sousa The Banker....For sure would put Ontario on the ROAD AGAIN to success!