Monday, November 17, 2014

Federal by-elections in Yellowhead and Whitby-Oshawa today

There's snow on the ground in Ottawa, and in many other parts of the country, which means the end of a very busy Fall election season is almost upon us. Today is especially busy with a provincial by-election in Saint John East, New Brunswick (covered in my previous post) and two federal by-elections, one in Yellowhead, Alberta and the other in Whitby—Oshawa in Ontario. There is just a couple of provincial by-elections in Newfoundland next week, and then there shouldn't be any more electoral events until the new year. I usually cover each riding separately when doing riding profiles for federal by-elections, but this time, I'm including both Yellowhead and Whitby—Oshawa in one post.


Whitby—Oshawa

Map of Whitby-Oshawa's neighbourhoods



The more interesting of the two federal by-elections today will be in the riding of Whitby—Oshawa. The riding became vacant in April under unfortunate circumstances when its MP, former Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, a Conservative, passed away after suffering a heart attack. The riding could have been included in the by-elections held on June 30, but was delayed by the Prime Minster, perhaps out of respect for the departed.

Whitby—Oshawa is a sprawling, suburban riding, located east of Toronto in the politically infamous “905” belt, that circles the city. The riding contains the entirety of the Town of Whitby, and the northwest and rural northern part of the city of Oshawa. The riding is mostly suburban in nature, but contains a large rural area in the north, which is separated by the urbanized south by woods and conservation areas. Within this rural area is the bedroom community of Brooklin, which is geographically separated from the rest of Whitby by a wooded area and farm land.


Demographics


Whitby—Oshawa is one of the faster growing ridings in Ontario, due to its suburban nature and proximity to Toronto. About half of all homes in the riding were built since 1990. With nearly 150,000 people, it is the 11th most populous riding in the province. The riding is 81% White, but is home to large Black and South Asian populations. Most of the White population is of British Isles descent, that is English, Irish and Scottish. Most of the population (83%) has English as its mother tongue, with French next at just 2%. 71% of the riding is Christian, with less than half of that number being Catholic. United Church and Anglicans make up the largest Protestant denominations. Islam is the largest non Christian faith at 3%, while nearly a quarter of the riding belongs to no religion. The riding is slightly wealthier than the province as a whole, with the average individual income at $48,000 compared to the provincial average of $42,000. The largest industry in the riding is retail, employing nearly 10,000 people.


History


The riding of Whitby—Oshawa does not have a very long history, as it was only created in the 2003 redistribution. Rapid suburbanization has meant that over the course of history, Whitby has found itself in smaller, and smaller ridings. At Confederation, Whitby was only a small village, which was part of the rural riding of Ontario South (named for the now-defunct County of Ontario). Ontario South flipped back and forth from the Conservatives to the Liberals throughout its history. The riding changed names in 1925, becoming just “Ontario”. In the 1940s, due to the rise of the manufacturing sector in Oshawa, the socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) became more popular, and elected an MP in a 1948 by-election. The CCF, and its successor, the NDP would remain competitive in the Ontario riding, but only won it once.

The area was dominated in the 1950s and 1960s by Ukrainian Immigrant Michael Starr, a Tory, who served as Minister of Labour under John Diefenbaker. Starr was finally defeated in a razor thin 15-vote margin in 1968, against future NDP leader Ed Broadbent in the new riding of Oshawa—Whitby. As the Toronto suburbs rapidly grew, Whitby re-joined the Ontario riding in 1976, then joined the riding of Whitby—Ajax in 1997, and then finally Whitby—Oshawa in 2004. Since 1984, Whitby has always voted for the party that has formed government, making it a fairly reliable bellwether. Tories Scott Fennell and Rene Soetens held represented the area during the Mulroney era, Liberals Dan McTeague and Judi Longfield during the Chretien and Martin eras, and Jim Flaherty had held the riding beginning in 2006, when Harper became Prime Minister.


Members of Parliament:


Ontario South (1867-1925)

Whitby and Oshawa were both in the riding of Ontario South from Confederation until 1925. This riding also included at different times, Pickering, and the Scugog area.

1) T.N. Gibbs, Liberal-Cons. (1867-1873)
2) Malcolm Gibson, Liberal (1874-1876)
*) T.N. Gibbs, Liberal-Cons. (1876-1878) 2nd time
3) F.W. Glen, Liberal (1878-1887)
4) Wm. Smith, Cons. (1887-1891)
5) J.I. Davidson, Liberal (1891-1892)
*) Wm. Smith, Cons. (1892-1896) 2nd time
6) Leo. Burnett, Liberal (1896-1900)

7) Wm. Ross, Liberal (1900-1904)
8) Peter Christie, Cons. (1904-1908)
9) F.L. Fowke, Liberal (1908-1911)
*) Wm. Smith, Cons./Unionist (1911-1921) 3rd time
10) L.O. Clifford, Liberal (1921-1925)

Ontario (1925-1968)

Ontario South was renamed “Ontario” in 1925. Oshawa and Whitby both remained in the riding until 1968.

11) T.E. Kaiser, Cons. (1925-1930)
12) W.H. Moore, Liberal (1930-1945)

13) W.E.N. Sinclair, Liberal (1945-1947)
14) A.H. Williams, C.C.F. (1948-1949)
15) W.C. Thomson, Liberal (1949-1951)
16) Michael Starr, Prog. Cons. (1952-1968)

Oshawa—Whitby (1968-1976)

In 1968, Oshawa, the Town of Whitby and part of the Townsip of Whitby were carved out of the riding of Ontario to form the new riding of Oshawa—Whitby. This arrangement only lasted until 1979.

17) J.E. Broadbent, N.D.P. (1968-1979)

Ontario (1976-1997)

In 1976, the Town of Whitby re-joined the Ontario riding, leaving the rest of Oshawa in the re-named riding of “Oshawa”. At this time, the riding of Ontario also included Uxbridge, Ajax and Pickering. In 1988, the more rural northern end of Whitby and Uxbridge joined the new riding of Durham.

18) T.S. Fennell, Prog. Cons. (1979-1988)

19) R.J. Soetens, Prog. Cons. (1988-1993)
20) D.P. McTeague, Liberal (1993-1997)

Whitby—Ajax (1997-2004)

Following the 1996 redistribution, Whitby joined with the southern half of Ajax to form the riding of Whitby—Ajax, which only lasted until 2004.

21) Mrs. J. Longfield, Liberal (1997-2004)

Whitby—Oshawa (2004-present)

The 2003 redistribution joined Whitby with the northern rural part of Oshawa, and some neighbourhoods in the northwest end of the city.

*) Mrs. J. Longfield, Liberal (2004-2006) continued
22) J.M. Flaherty, Cons. (2006-2014)

The 2015 federal election will see the creation of a new riding just called “Whitby”, consisting of the entirety of the Town of Whitby. The part of the riding in Oshawa north of Taunton Road will become part of the riding of Durham, while the area south of Taunton Road will become part of the riding of Oshawa.

2011 results by neighbourhood in Whitby-Oshawa


Political geography


Back in 2011, Flaherty nearly swept all polls in the riding. Only two polls in the Oshawa neighbourhood of McLaughlin were won by the NDP, which finished in second place in the riding for the first time since the area was in Ed Broadbent's Oshawa—Whitby riding. McLaughlin is the neighbourhood that is located closest to Oshawa's working class core, and was also the NDP's best neighbourhood in the riding, winning 31% of the vote. Flaherty's best numbers came in the rural parts of the neighbourhood, and in Brooklin, which is surrounded by rural areas. Flaherty's best neighbourhood was rural Oshawa, where he won 66%. Due to Oshawa's history of being a manufacturing centre with a large labour presence, Whitby is slightly more Conservative and less NDP-friendly than the Oshawa part of the riding. The Liberals finished third in the 2011 election, and were not the factor they usually are. Their top neighbourhood was Taunton North in Whitby. Historically, the Liberals have been able to win across the suburban neighbourhoods of the riding, but are much weaker in the rural north.
Whitby-Oshawa 2011 results by polling division

Provincially, Flaherty's widow, Christine Elliott is the local MPP. She was one of only two Tories to win in the inner 905 in last June's provincial election. Elliott is a popular MPP, and could have won some sympathy for having just lost her husband. In that election, the Liberals won a splattering of polls across the suburban areas, while the NDP won a cluster of polls in Oshawa, and even a few in Whitby. However, Elliott won an overwhelming majority of the polls, including all of the rural polls.

Whitby-Oshawa 2008-2011 two party swing by polling division (Cons vs NDP)


Outlook


Running for the Conservatives in this riding is former Whitby mayor Pat Perkins, who was mayor of the municipality from 2006 until resigning to run for parliament. Before that, she served on town council. The Liberals are running businesswoman Celina Caesar-Chavennes, a Black Canadian, who is also the President of ReSolve Research Solutions Inc. The NDP is running community organizer Trish McAuliffe, who was the party's candidate in 2011. The Greens are running local resident Craig Cameron.

Whitby—Oshawa will be the most exciting by-election to watch tonight, because polls show it as being a close race, and because of its history as being a bellwether riding, that usually votes for the government (if the Liberals are ahead in the national polls, it stands to reason they will win bellwether ridings like this one). Forum Research conducted an IVR poll yesterday that showed Liberal candidate Celina Caesar-Chavannes ahead of Conservative candidate Pat Perkins 45% to 42%. While conducting an IVR poll on a Sunday is suspect methodology at best, it is logical that this race would be close, but with the Liberals ahead.


Yellowhead

Map of Yellowhead

Head west of Edmonton, past the city's western exurbs, and you'll find the riding of Yellowhead, which extends westward from those exurbs, all the way to the British Columbia border in the west. This predominantly rural riding was vacated in September, when Alberta Premier Jim Prentice appointed him to the province's envoy to the U.S. to lobby for the Keystone XL pipepline.

Yellowhead is named for the famous Yellowhead Highway (Trans-Canada Highway #16), which runs through the riding like a ribbon, from Edmonton until the B.C. border, near Jasper, the riding's most famous community. Most of the riding lives in the eastern part of the riding, in the Pembina and McLeod River valleys. The riding does not consist of any major cities on which it is centred. Instead, the riding is populated by a number of small to medium sized towns, dotting the western prairie. The largest community in the riding is Hinton, which had 9,640 people as of the last census. This was just 35 more than the next largest community, Whitecourt. Edson and Drayton Valley are also major communities in the riding.


Demographics

Yellowhead is predominantly White, with about 85% of residents being neither a visible minority nor Aboriginal. Most of the rest of the population (12%) are Aboriginal, a mix of Cree, Saulteaux and Stoney First Nations. Much of the White population has British Isles ancestry (English, Scottish, Irish), but there is also a significant population with French ancestry. Francophones settled in the region in the 19th Century, with Lac La Biche being an important trading post. The riding also has a large German population and a significant Ukrainian. Nine tenths of riding have English as their mother tongue, with only small numbers of German and French speakers left. The riding is a majority Christian (58%), with about a third of Christians being Catholic, and one sixth being United Church. Most of the rest of the riding (40%) have no religion. In terms of income, the riding is about average for Alberta, if not slightly poorer. The median income is $35,000, compared to the provincial median of $36,000. The main industry in the riding is the resources sector, with 8,000 people employed in mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction.


History


Yellowhead has existed since 1979, but ridings that have covered similar territories have existed as far back as 1924. The area has been held by right wing parties since 1972, when Progressive Conservative Joe Clark won the riding, then known as “Rocky Mountain”. He held Yellowhead when he served as Prime Minister from 1979 to 1980, and continued to represent the riding until 1993. Cliff Breitkreuz of the Reform Party won it in 1993, and held it as Canadian Alliance member. Rob Merrifield was first elected in 2000 for the Canadian Alliance, and remained the MP when the party merged with the Progressive Conservatives to form the modern Conservative Party. The riding last went Liberal in 1968, when Allen Sulatycky was elected, benefiting from the height of Trudeaumania, and also having literally two Tories on the ballot, splitting the conservative vote. The last time a left wing party won the seat was when Donald MacBeth Kennedy won in 1930 for the United Farmers, though the CCF was competitive in the area during the 1940s.


Members of Parliament:


Edmonton (1904-1914)

Before Alberta became a province, it was a district in the Northwest Territories. The northern third of the district, including the Yellowhead area was found in the riding of Edmonton. The Yellowhead area remained in the riding of Edmonton until 1914 when it split in two parts (east and west).

1) F. Oliver, Liberal (1904-1917)

Edmonton West (1914-1924)

Edmonton West contained the western half of the Edmonton area, as well as everything west of the city, including the Yellowhead area.

2) W.A. Griesbach, Unionist (1917-1921)
3) D.M. Kennedy, Prog. (1921-1925)


Peace River (1924-1933)

In 1924, the riding of Peace River was created out of Edmonton, covering much of the same territory that Yellowhead does now.

*) D.M. Kennedy, Prog (1925-1926); U.F.A. (1926-1935) continued

Jasper—Edson (1935-1968)

In 1935, the riding grew larger, taking in more territory near Edmonton, and was re-named “Jasper—Edson”. A new riding of Peace River was created to the north.

4) W.F. Kuhl, Soc. Credit (1935-1949)
5) J.W. Welbourn, Liberal (1949-1953)
6) Chas. Yuill, Soc. Credit (1953-1958)
7) H.M. Horner, Prog. Cons. (1958-1967)

8) D.C. Caston, Prog. Cons. (1967-1968)

Rocky Mountain (1968-1979)

In 1968, most of the Yellowhead area was transferred to the new riding of “Rocky Mountain”, which extended south along the British Columbia border, all the way to the U.S. border in the south. Other parts of what is today the Yellowhead riding were transferred to Pembina and Wetaskiwin.

9) A.B. Sulatycky, Liberal (1968-1972)
10) C.J. Clark, Prog. Cons. (1972-1979)

Yellowhead (1979-present)

The riding of Rocky Mountain was dissolved in 1979. Out of the northern part of the riding came the new riding of Yellowhead. When it was created, Yellowhead's eastern boundary began at the western city limits of Edmonton. This boundary was shifted westward in 1987 to exclude Edmonton's western suburbs, like Spruce Grove. The riding has undergone only minor boundary changes since then.

*) C.J. Clark, Prog. Cons. (1979-1993) continued
11) C.N. Breitkreuz, Reform / Cdn. Alliance (1993-2000)

12) R. Merrifield, Cdn. Alliance (2000-204); Cons. (2000-2014)

The 2013 redistribution saw some major shifts in Yellowhead's boundaries to be used in the next federal election. Yellowhead loses the Fox Creek, Whitecourt and Barrhead areas to the new riding of Peace River—Westlock. To compensate, Yellowhead gains territory to its south, gaining the Rocky Mountain House area, and some new territory south of the North Saskatchewan River.

2011 Results by area in Yellowhead


Political geography


As is the case in all of rural Alberta, Conservatives win almost everything in this riding, and by large margins. In 2011, Merrifield won almost every poll in the riding en route to winning 77% of the vote. The Tories only lost six polls, all to the NDP, and tied another with the NDP. Two of those six polls were on Indian Reserves (the O'Chiese Band and the Sunchild First Nation in the southeast corner). The tied poll was also an Indian Reserve, the Alexis Band. The remaining four poll wins by the NDP were all in the resort community of Jasper, which has a progressive bent to it, similar to other ski resort communities in North America. The Greens were also strong in Jasper, winning 20% there. Overall, the Tories just beat out the NDP in Jasper, by 0.06% of Election Day votes. The Conservatives were strong every where else in the riding, winning at least two thirds of the vote in every town and rural area. Their strongest area in the riding was rural Brazeau County in the southeast of the riding, which surrounds Drayton Valley. In Brazeau County, the Tories won a massive 87%. The strongest Liberal area was the Alexis Band, where they won 16%.

Yellowhead 2011 election results by polling division

Historically, the only areas of the riding that aren't Conservative are the Indian Reserves and in Jasper. The NDP usually does well in Jasper, though the Greens won more polls there in 2006. The riding's Indian Reserves backed the NDP in 2008 and 2011, but were won by the Liberals before then. Provincially, the last election in West Yellowhead went mostly Tory, although the Alberta Party leader, won some polls in his hometown of Hinton. Wild Rose did not fare well, only winning two polls. Wild Rose fared much better in the rural eastern parts of Yellowhead, which is divided into the provincial ridings of Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock, Whitecourt-Ste. Anne and Drayton Valley-Devon. However, the larger towns in the area backed the Progressive Conservatives enough to win those ridings.
Yellowhead 2008-2011 two party (Cons vs NDP) swing by polling division

Outlook

Due to its long history of supporting right wing parties, it is obvious that the Conservatives will easily win here. Their candidate is retired RCMP officer Jim Eglinski, who lives in Edson, and has past political experience from being mayor of Fort St. John, B.C., nearly a decade ago. Since Eglinski's victory is a sure bet, the real race in the riding is for second place. The NDP has been the “second place” party here since 2006, and has some history in the riding, as they had won the provincial riding of West Yellowhead in 1989. Their candidate is retired Pulp Mill worker and Hinton resident Eric Rosendahl. The Liberals look to surpass the NDP into second place, with their candidate, Hinton town councillor Ryan Maguhn. The Greens are not running a candidate. Forum Research also polled Yellowhead on Sunday, showing Eglinski to be comfortably ahead at 51%. It showed Maguhn in second place at 24%, and Rosendahl far behind at 13%.



For the Liberals and Conservatives, fortunes tonight will be won and lost in Oshawa—Whitby. A win there would be huge for the Liberals, as it would show that they can win a 905 bellwether, which is key to forming government in this country. For the Conservatives, they need to win to show that they can still compete with the surging Liberals. For the NDP, all they can do is hope to maintain second place in Yellowhead, to show that they are still the default opposition party in Alberta. But if the results in Yellowhead are anything like the June by-election in nearby Macleod, where the NDP went from second place in 2011 to finishing in 5th place (behind the Christian Heritage Party), then disaster is surely on the horizon.

Polls close in both ridings at 9:30 Eastern / 7:30 Mountain.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Saint John East, New Brunswick provincial by-election preview

Following an unusual turn of events, voters in the provincial riding of Saint John East in New Brunswick will be heading back to the polls on Monday, after having just gone to the polls in September to elect a new member of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly in the 2014 New Brunswick general election.  In that election, Liberal candidate Gary Keating defeated the incumbent, Tory Glen Savoie by a narrow nine vote margin, which had to be confirmed by a judicial recount. Just three weeks after having been elected, and before he was even officially sworn in, Keating decided he didn't want the job, as it would mean spending too much time away from his family.

And so, this by-election, not even two months after the general election, will stand as a very early test for the new Liberal government in the province, who have just came from winning a majority government with 27 seats to the Tories' 21.  The fate of the government won't rest on this one seat, but it will be interesting to see if the voters in the riding punish the Liberals for having had a candidate who was uncommitted to holding office.

The riding of Saint John East extends from the old east end of Saint John on Saint John Harbour, eastward until the shores of Loch Lomond near the Saint John Airport. The riding contains a number of communities in the east end of the city, located near the Little River. In addition to the neighbourhood of Saint John East, the riding also includes the communities of Champlain Heights, Silver Falls, Forest Hills, Heatherway, Lakewood Heights, Lakewood, Latimore Lake, Greenwood, Churchland Road and Ben Lomond.


History

Saint John East with its current boundaries was created in the most recent redistribution which occurred just before the last general election. It was formed from most of the previous Saint John East riding and part of Saint John-Fundy, where Glen Savoie was the MLA. Glen Tait, who was the MLA for Saint John East did not run in 2014.

Throughout its history, the riding typically votes for the party that forms government.  2003 is the most recent exception, as the Liberal's Roly MacIntyre picked up the riding despite the Tories winning the general election. Since Gerry Merrithew held the seat in the 1970s and early 1980s, the Tories have generally been weak in the riding. When they do win, it is with the help of a split opposition, as they have not won more than 40% of the vote here since 1982. The Liberals have cracked 40% on a few occasions, but only once did they themselves win a majority of support. This was in 2006, when they won 60%. One reason for the Liberals and Tories typically winning the seat with relatively low numbers is the higher than usual NDP vote in this riding. The NDP has only won the riding once (in a 1985 by-election), but typically gets around 20-25% of the vote.


MLAs (since 1967)

Saint John East (2 members)

- C.A. McIlveen, Prog. Cons. (1967-1972)
- W.J. Woodroffe, Prog. Cons. (1967-1974)
- G.S. Merrithew, Prog. Cons. (1972-1974)


East Saint John

- G.S. Merrithew, Prog. Cons. (1974-1984) continued
- Peter Trites, N.D.P. (1984-1984); Liberal (1987-1991)
- Geo. Jenkins, Liberal (1991-1995)

Saint John Champlain

- R. MacIntyre, Liberal (1995-1999)
- Ms. C.J. Keddy, Prog. Cons. (1999-2003)
- R. MacIntyre, Liberal (2003-2010) 2nd time

Saint John East

- Glen Tait, Prog. Cons. (2010-2014)
- G. Keating, Liberal (2014)


Political geography


In the general election, once again due to the strength of the NDP vote in the riding, neither the Liberals nor the Tories broke 40% of the vote, getting about 37% each. Despite a high profile province-wide campaign, the NDP result in the riding, 19%, is lower than normal for the party. Perhaps the Greens, who won 6% of the vote, ate into this.


In no neighbourhood did the Tories break 40%. They were strongest in the more suburban neighbourhoods in the eastern part of the riding, with their best neighbourhood being Forest Hills, where they won 39.9%. The Liberals' best neighbourhood was Champlain Heights, in the western part of the riding, where they won 41% of the vote. The NDP did not win any polls, but their best neighbourhood was Latimore Lake in the southeast part of the riding, where they won 24%. The Greens' best neighbourhood was the Ben Lomond / Churchland Road area in the northeast of the riding, where they won 7%.

2014 general election results by community in Saint John East

Traditionally, there is an east-west divide in the riding. The Liberals are historically stronger in the older Saint John East neighbourhood and in Champlain Heights, which are both in the western part of the riding. The more suburban communities in the rest of the riding tend to be more Tory friendly.  NDP support is usually found in the same areas as the Liberals, and often do win a few polls in the old Saint John East area.


Outlook


Following the results of the provincial election in September, then-NDP leader Dominic Cardy resigned as leader, as the party failed to win any seats. However, he was encouraged by party stalwarts to run in the by-election, perhaps in a last ditch effort to enter the legislature, after being shutout. Cardy stands a good chance, as the NDP has a strong base in this riding. Because the NDP didn't win any seats in September, a Cardy victory here is crucial for the New Democrats. It is also crucial because the party risks losing “third party status” in the minds of voters, as the Green Party managed to win a seat the September election, whereas the NDP didn't. For NDPers, this by-election is a “second chance” after a disappointing general election.

The shear closeness of the September general election in this riding means that the outcome of Monday's vote is anyone's guess. The Tories hope to win the seat back with Glen Savoie again, who represented part of this riding  from 2010 to 2014, and narrowly lost here in the general election. Challenging Cardy and Savoie is Saint John Deputy Mayor Shelley Rinehart who is running for the Liberals, and is definitely a better candidate than Gary Keating. The Greens look to build on their one seat in the legislature with their candidate, businesswoman Sharon Murphy, who was their candidate in September. Interestingly, none of the candidates actually live in the riding, although all are claiming some sort of connection to the area, with Cardy even promising to move there if elected.

We'll see what happens when polls close on Monday at 8pm (7pm Eastern).

Friday, November 14, 2014

British Columbia 2014 municipal elections preview

Tomorrow, voters across British Columbia will vote in municipal elections in each of the province's 162 municipalities, as well as electoral area directors outside of these municipalities, plus Islands Trust councillors, park board commissioners and school district trustees. Additionally, there are also referendums being held in some locations. British Columbia is the only province remaining to hold municipal elections every three years, but recent legislation has moved this to every four years, matching the rest of the nine provinces. The most recent municipal elections were held in 2011, but the next elections after tomorrow's vote will be held in 2018.

Map showing the location of every municipality in British Columbia

Across the province, mayors have already been acclaimed (elected with no opposition) in Alert Bay, Armstrong, Chetwynd, Clinton, Coldstream, Cumberland, Dawson Creek, Delta, Fernie, Fort St. James, Fort St. John, Fruitvale, Granisle, Hazelton, Hudson's Hope, Invernmere, Logan Lake, Lumby, Lutton, Masset, Midway, New Denver, North Vancouver (district), Oliver, Port Alice, Powell River, Princeton, Queen Charlotte, Radium Hot Springs, Silverton, Smithers, Sun Peaks, Tofino, Wells and West Vancouver. Of those municipalities, no council elections will be held at all in Clinton, Granisle, Hazelton, Lumby, New Denver, Princeton, Queen Charlotte, Radium Hot Springs, Silverton and Sun Peaks, as in those municipalities, the entire council was acclaimed. Additionally, all of the councillors in Nakusp, New Hazelton and Taylor were acclaimed, but will still have contested mayoral races.

In every municipality in the province except Lake Country, councils are elected on an at-large basis, representing the entirety of their municipalities. Only in Lake Country, do wards representing the municipality's communities (in addition to having two at-large councillors). In addition to electing at-large municipal councils, the towns of Oliver and Osoyoos have “water councillors” which are elected by residents living outside town limits but are served by the town's water system.

Just like in Quebec, municipal political parties are allowed to exist in the province. Unlike Quebec though, only a few municipalities have parties, including the three largest cities of Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby. Due to the at-large “block voting” system of councils, where voters have as many votes as there are council spots, having partisan races means that parties will often win every seat on council. This is theoretically true in even close elections. If every supporter of “Party X” votes for the “Party X” slate, and every supporter of “Party Y” votes for the “Party Y” slate, then even if Party X has the support of 51% of the electorate, then they would win every seat in council. In my opinion, this makes block voting even less democratic than the often criticized first past the post system used in most Canadian elections.


Vancouver

British Columbia's largest city looks like it will be having a close two-way horse race between incumbent two-term mayor, Gregor Robertson from the centre-left Vision Vancouver party, and journalist Kirk LaPointe of the centre-right Non-Partisan Association (NPA). Playing spoiler in the race is activist and former federal NDP candidate Meena Wong, who is running for the more left wing Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE). In addition to the mayoral race, parties will fight to control Vancouver's 10-seat city council.

COPE was once the main left wing party in Vancouver, and held a majority on city council from 2002 to 2005. However, internal disagreements during this time led to the formation of the more moderate Vision Vancouver. Despite their disagreements, the two parties did not run mayoral candidates against each other in 2005, 2008 or 2011. In 2011, COPE failed to elect a single candidate to council. In a shift of direction, COPE has decided to run a mayoral candidate in this election.
Vision Vancouver has governed Vancouver since the 2008 election, and has been led by Robertson, (who had previously been an NDP MLA) since his election as mayor that year. Robertson was easily re-elected in 2011, defeating city councillor Suzanne Anton of the NPA 57%-40%. All seven of Vision's candidates were elected to council, while the NPA elected two councillors, and the Green Party's lone candidate was elected. This lone Green was former provincial Green Party leader Adriane Carr, who was elected to the last spot on council, edging out the COPE's Ellen Woodsworth, a sitting city councillor, whom she beat by less than 100 votes.


Parties in Vancouver rarely run full slates for council, failing to take advantage of the block voting system. Vision Vancouver formerly had a deal with COPE to not run a full slate, so that COPE could still elect councillors. This failed to help COPE in 2011 however. In this election, Vision is still only running just eight councillors, perhaps to allow the Greens a chance to increase their presence on council, as they are running three candidates this time. Both the NPA and COPE are running eight councillors as well. No matter what happens, we know there will be at least one opposition party on council.  

As is the norm for most major cities in Canada, Vancouver is a heavily polarized city when it comes to politics. The working class east end of the city is notorious for its support of left wing parties throughout the city's history, on all levels of government. Conversely, the western parts of the city are considerably more wealthy, and vote for more right wing “free market” parties. The 2011 Vancouver election was no exception to this. Robertson's strongest neighbourhoods were in the east end, while Anton won the city's southwest. The key to winning the city is to be able to win the middle class neighbourhoods, such as West Point Grey and Kitsilano in the northwest corner of the city, the Downtown core (including the west end), and the south end of the city.

Council candidates with the most votes by polling division, 2011 election

Due to the block voting system employed for Vancouver's city council election, candidates for council must try to win votes in every part of the city to get elected. This does not mean certain candidates do not have their core areas of support, as seen by my map of which council candidate won the most votes in each polling division. East Vancouverite Raymound Louie of Vision Vancouver won the most votes city wide, with 44% of voters having voted for him. He didn't just win polls in the east end, but in many parts of the city. Other Vision Vancouver candidates only won a few polls, but were still elected. Even Tony Tang, Vision's final councillor to be elected (in 7th place) was able to tie a poll. Five NPA candidates won polls, despite only two being elected to council. Elizabeth Ball was their strongest candidate, winning the support of 36% of voters. She was especially strong in the Kerrisdale neighbourhood in the southwest part of the city. None of the three COPE candidates won any polls, but Adriane Carr of the Green Party won five polls, all in the “West End” neighbourhood.

Polls are suggesting the race between Robertson and LaPointe is quite close. A recent Insights West poll gave Robertson 46% to 41% for LaPointe's. Wong was at 9%. The race for city council may also be very close. A poll conducted last month by Justason Market Intelligence showed that Green Party councillor Adriane Carr was the most popular candidate running for council, at 52%. Tied for second was the NPA's George Affleck and Vision's Heather Deal. If the two main party's top candidates are tied, it means that city council could be very divided.


Surrey

Another close race is in the cards is in B.C.'s second largest city, Surrey. Three-term incumbent mayor Dianne Watts is calling it quits, to run federally for the nomination of the Conservative Party in the riding of South Surrey—White Rock. The race to replace her will be between three candidates, each having a legitimate shot of winning the mayoralty. Just like Vancouver, Surrey has municipal political parties, but has recently been effectively a “one-party state”. Watts' “Surrey First” party won all eight seats on council in 2011. However, with Watts resigning, there are two new parties with a chance to win seats.

Carrying the Surrey First banner in this election is councillor Linda Hepner, who is running a centrist campaign, promising continuity with the Watts-led council. Hepner is helped by the fact that five of the city's eight councillors are still running for the party. One candidate running against Hepner is former mayor Doug McCallum, a Conservative, who is running for the new “Safe Surrey Coalition”. McCallum was mayor of Surrey from 1996 to 2005, when he was easily defeated by Watts. The third main candidate running for mayor is the labour-backed Barinder Rasode, who was elected to council in 2011 as a member of Surrey First. She is running for the “One Surrey” party. Surrey First is running a full slate of eight candidates for Surrey's eight-seat city council, while One Surrey is running seven candidates, and the Safe Surrey Coalition is running just four.

Insights West's most recent poll shows Hepner and McCallum tied at 33%, while Rasode is within the margin of error at 30%, indicating the election's outcome is anybody's guess. Dianne Watts easily won 80% of the vote in 2011, winning every poll in the city. This election will be very different. Surrey is a very polarized city in terms of race, income, and partisanship (as evidenced in federal and provincial elections) and this will in no doubt effect which parts of the city backs which candidates. Look for McCallum to win in the wealthier south of the city, while Rasode will likely win the more working class and diverse north end of the city, while Hepner will have to do well enough in both ends of the city if she is to win.


Burnaby

In Burnaby, the race for mayor is between four-time incumbent Derek Corrigan and businessman Daren Hancott. The NDP-backed Corrigan leads the Burnaby Citizens Association (BCA), which won all eight seats on city council in 2011. Hancott, a Conservative, heads the new Burnaby First Coalition. Both parties are running full slates once again.

Corrigan was easily re-elected in 2011 with 76% of the vote against Tom Tao, running for the now defunct “TEAM Burnaby”, who won 17%. (Tao is running as an independent for council this time). With two diverse choices this year's election in Burnaby will likely be much closer.

One of the more interesting news stories during the Burnaby campaign was rumours that people associated with Burnaby First were telling people in the Mandarin-speaking community of the city that the BCA “supports the gays” and was “going to give (children) and injection to make them gay”. Hancott has denied these rumours.


Richmond

Running again for mayor of Canada's only Chinese-majority city (or near majority) is incumbent mayor, Malcolm Brodie, who has held that job since 2001. Brodie does not belong to any political party on council, but was a member of the now defunct centre-right Richmond Non-Partisan Association when he was first elected. Brodie's main competition comes from laywer Richard Lee of “Richmond Reform”, who is running a populist campaign. The two ran against each other in 2011 with Brodie winning with 70% of the vote to Lee's 30%.

In 2011, all of city council was elected as independents. However, sitting councillors have divided themselves into two new parties (neither of which is Lee's Richmond Reform, which is only running one candidate). Three of the six incumbents are running for “Richmond First”, two are running for the self-proclaimed non-partisan “Richmond Community Coalition” (RCC), while the remaining incumbent is running as an independent. RCC is running five candidates, while Richmond First is running six candidates to the eight-seat city council. The RCC appears to be the more right wing of the two parties, running on a 15% tax hike over the next five years.

One of the more interesting campaign issues is whether or not to ban Chinese-only signs. Language laws in Canada usually are a debate for communities with large Francophone populations, but it has become an issue in Richmond, where close to a majority of residents are Chinese. There are several businesses in the city with Chinese only signs, and it has angered some residents there. Lee, who is Chinese himself supports banning Chinese-only signs, while Brodie feels the courts would strike down any attempts to ban them.


Abbotsford

In Abbotsford, the one-term incumbent mayor Bruce Banman is facing off against Councillor Henry Braun. Neither represent any political parties, and neither do any of the candidates running for the city council's eight seats. Banman was first elected in 2011, defeating the incumbent mayor, George Peary by just 700 votes.


Coquitlam

Two-term incumbent mayor and former Liberal MLA Richard Stewart faces former mayor and former Liberal MP Lou Sekora, who currently sits on city council. The two are running as independents, but three city councillors have formed a slate for the city council election. The slate, called the “Coquitlam Citizens Association” is backed by the NDP, and are running five candidates to the eight seat council. Four other incumbent councillors are running as independents.


Kelowna

Incumbent mayor Walter Gray is calling it quits after one term. Gray defeated the previous incumbent, Sharon Shepherd by just 400 votes in 2011. Shepherd is running again, and is considered one of two frontrunners to replace Gray. The other is councillor Colin Basran. There are no official parties running in the city, but there is an unofficial party called “TaxPayersFirst”, who made headlines for their plans to turn downtown streets into canals.

Saanich

In Saanich, incumbent mayor Frank Leonard is taking on Richard Atwell, both independents. Leonard has endorsements from the Police and Fire unions. The hot topic in Saanich, as well as several other municipalities in the Greater Victoria area is that of amalgamation. Saanich voters will be presented with a referendum on “community-based review of the governance structure...within the Region”, which is seen as a precursor to amalgamation.


Langley (Township)

Langley mayor Jack Froese is taking on former mayor Rick Green in a re-match of 2011. Froese handily beat Green in 2011, who finished third, after being embroiled in a scandal where Green admitted to misleading the township's council.


Other major races:

Delta: Incumbent mayor Lois Jackson of the “Delta Independent Voters Association” has been re-elected with no opposition.
Kamloops: Incumbent mayor Peter Milobar takes on Pierre Filisetti, Benjamin James and Dallas Paisley.
North Vancouver (District): Incumbent mayor Richard Walton has been re-elected with no opposition.
Nanaimo: Incumbent mayor John Ruttan faces off against nine candidates, including former mayor Gary Korpan, councillor Bill McKay and former councillor Bill Holdom.
Victoria: Incumbent mayor Dean Fortin takes on councillor Lisa Helps and former Liberal MLA Ida Chong. There will also be a referendum on amalgamation.
Chilliwack: Incumbent mayor and Fraser Valley Regional District board chair Sharon Gaetz takes on Raymond Cauchi and Cameron Hill.
Maple Ridge: Incumbent mayor Graham Mowatt takes on councillor Mike Morden and four other candidates.
Prince George: One-term incumbent mayor Shari Green is not running again. Running to replace her is councillor Lyn Hall and former councillor Don Zurowski. Residents face a referendum on water fluoridation.
New Westminster: Incumbent mayor Wayne Wright takes on councillor Jonathan X. Cote, James Crosty and Vladimir Kasnogor.
Port Coquitlam: Two-term incumbent mayor Greg Moore takes on fringe candidate Eric Hirvonen, who ran for council in 2011.
North Vancouver (City): Incumbent mayor Darrell Mussatto takes on Kerry Morris and George Pringle.
West Vancouver: First-term Incumbent mayor Michael Smith is running unopposed, as he was in 2011 when he was first elected.
Vernon: Incumbent mayor Robert Sawatzky is not running for re-election. Running to replace him his councillor Mary-Jo O'Keefe, former councillor Klaus Tribes and three other candidates.
Mission: Incumbent mayor Ted Adlem of the “Citizens for Responsible Municipal Government” is running for re-election. He faces councillor Tony Luck, former councillor Randy Hawes and rural director and NDPer Wendy Bales.

Polls close at 8pm Pacific (11 Eastern).

Monday, November 10, 2014

Provincial by-election in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan on Thursday

On Thursday, Saskatchewan will be seeing its very first provincial by-election since the 2011 general election which re-elected the conservative Saskatchewan Party in a landslide.  Voters in the riding of Lloydminster will be electing a new Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) following the September 30 retirement of backbencher Tim McMillan, to become president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Since the 2011 election, the Brad Wall-led Saskatchewan Party government has presided over incredible economic growth in the province, thanks in part to a booming oil sector.  As a result, recent polls have shown Wall to be the most popular premier in the entire country.

The riding of Lloydminster is on the western border of the province, northwest of the province's largest city of Saskatoon. The riding is named after its largest community, Lloydminster, which makes up about 40% of the riding's population. The City of Lloydminster, known as the “border city” is well known for straddling the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. Over a third of the city of Lloydminster's population lives on the Saskatchewan side of town, however it once contained over half the city's population. Outside of Lloydminster, the riding is mostly rural. It runs long the provincial border from Meadow Lake Provincial Park in the north, to the town of Marshall in the south. The riding also includes the communities of Pierceland and Paradise Hill as well as a number of Indian Reserves, most notably the Onion Lake Cree Nation.


Demographics


The dominant ancestries in this area of west-central Saskatchewan are Cree, English and German.  The City of Lloydminster itself is mostly White, but has a small Filipino community, which makes up 7% of the city's population. The city also has a sizable community with Aboriginal ancestry, thanks to its proximity to a number of Cree Indian Reserves. Two-thirds of Lloydminister is Christian, while the remaining third of the population is non religious. The two main Christian denominations are Catholics and the United Church. Lloydminster is wealthier than the provincial average. The city saw a median income of $40,000 in 2010,  $9,000 more than the provincial median.


History


For most of its history, this rural-based riding has backed the NDP., and its predecessor, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.), back when the party was rooted in its rural base. However, in the last 10 to 20 years, the Saskatchewan Party has taken over rural Saskatchewan, leaving the N.D.P.  with just the cities and the far north. After the Progressive Conservatives held the riding in the 1980s, Violet Stanger was the riding's MLA for the NDP from 1991 to 1999, when she lost to the newly formed Saskatchewan Party's candidate, Milton Wakefield. When the NDP won a majority government in 2003, it very nearly won Lloydminster back, with its candidate losing to Wakefield by just 66 votes.  However when the Saskatchewan Party finally won the government in 2007,  its new candidate in the riding, Tim McMillan cruised to a comfortable 61% to 37% victory over his NDP opponent. In 2011 he increased his support, winning two-thirds of the vote.


MLAs


Battleford


- Abt. Champagne, Liberal (1905-1908)

Lloydminster

- H.C. Lisle, Liberal (1908-1912)
- J.P. Lyle, Liberal (1912-1917)
- R.J. Gordon, Liberal (1917-1934)


Cut Knife

- A.J. Macauley, Farmer-Labour (1934-1938)

- Wm. Roseland, Social Credit (1938-1944)
- I.C. Nollet, C.C.F. (1944-1964)

Cut Knife-Lloydminster

- I.C. Nollet, C.C.F. (1964-1967) continued
- Miro Kwasnica, N.D.P. (1967-1978)
- R.G. Long, N.D.P. (1978-1982)

- M.A. Hopfner, Prog. Cons. (1982-1991)
- Ms. Violet Stanger, N.D.P. (1991-1995)

Lloydminster

- Ms. Violet Stanger, N.D.P. (1995-1999) continued
- M. Wakefield, Sask. Party (1999-2007)
- T. McMillan, Sask. Party (2007-2014)


 


Political geography


Lloydminister is a heavily polarized riding. The 2011 provincial election saw polling divisions give both the Saskatchewan Party and the NDP over 95% of the vote. The minority Cree population on the reserves vote overwhelmingly NDP.   In the poll covering the Island Lake First Nation, the NDP won 96.5% of the vote, while the poll covering the Onion Lake First Nation gave the NDP 95.4% of the vote. On the flip of this, a poll covering the southeast corner of the Rural Municipality of Frenchman Butte (surrounding the community of Butte-St-Pierre) gave the Saskatchewan Party 98.6% of the vote (only one person voted NDP). Just to the south of that poll, across the North Saskatchewan River, in the Rural Municipality of Eldon, the poll surrounding the community of Milleton gave the Saskatchewan Party's Tim McMillan 95.0% of the vote. Overall, the rural, non-First Nations part of the riding is very friendly to the Saskatchewan Party. They are less popular in the Lloydminster area, but they still manage to win every poll there.  The Saskatchewan Party won all but four polls in 2011. The four they lost all covered Indian Reserves. Federally, results in the area have followed the same patterns. First Nations Reserves vote NDP or Liberal, while everything else goes Conservative.

2011 provincial election results by area of the riding


Outlook


With Brad Wall and his Saskatchewan Party still immensely popular in the province, it stands to reason that there is little doubt that they will win the riding. The only questions will be, by how much? And, who will finish second?  The NDP is still the main opposition party in the province, but with the Liberal brand on the rise across the country, it's possible that the fledgling provincial Liberal Party (who did not even run in the riding in 2011) could eat into NDP support here.  Winning the Aboriginal vote will be key to finish second, as it has gone Liberal on the federal level in the past.

The candidate for the Saskatchewan Party is school trustee Colleen Young, who is the current director of the Lloydminster Public School Division. The NDP is running Wilton Rural Municipality resident Wayne Byers, who also ran for the party in 2003 (when he lost by 66 votes) and in 2011 (losing by a much larger margin).  The Liberals are running their interim leader, Darrin Lamoureux, who is the younger brother of Winnipeg MP Kevin Lamoureux. The Greens, who finished third in 2011, are running former Lloydminster resident Luke Bonsan.

The polls will close Thursday evening at 8pm Central, 7 Mountain (the riding spans more than one time zone, as the area south of the North Saskatchewan River, including the City of Lloydminster is under Mountain time) or 9pm Eastern Standard Time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Provincial by-election in Conception Bay South, Newfoundland today

Voters in the riding of Conception Bay South in Newfoundland head to the polls today to elect a new member of the House of Assembly in a provincial by-election. The by-election will be the first test of the new Premier in the province, Paul Davis, who was elected as Premier, and leader of the governing Progressive Conservative Party in a very fractured leadership race in September. (Despite there only being three candidates, the race had to go to an unexpected third ballot, as Davis had not secured “50%+1” on the second ballot, having led his rival by just one vote, with another spoilt). The riding is especially important to Davis because he is the former Deputy Mayor of Conception Bay South, and represents the neighbouring riding of Topsail.

Conception Bay South has been a safe Tory seat for nearly two decades. In the 1996 provincial election, it was one of only 9 ridings in the entire province to vote for the Progressive Conservatives. The riding was won by Bob French, who held the seat until his death in 2002. His son, Terry French won the subsequent by-election, and held the riding until resigning in September. French had been the Justice Minister of the province, and is one of several MHAs to have resigned this year. He had been quite popular in the riding, winning about 80% of the vote in the 2002 by-election and in both the 2003 and 2007 general elections. This was reduced to 69% in the 2011 general election.



MHAs:


Harbour Main (2 members)

-R.J. Fahey, Prog. Cons. (1949-1951)
-D.I. Jackman, Prog. Cons. (1949-1956)

-P.J. Lewis, Liberal (1951-1971)
-Matthew Whalen, Liberal (1956-1959)

-Albert Furey, Prog. Cons. (1959-1962)
-Clifton Joy, Liberal (1962-1966)
-Jn. Mahoney, Liberal (1966-1971)

-Gordon Dawe, Prog. Cons. (1971-1975)
-C.W. Doody, Prog. Cons. (1971-1975)



Conception Bay South (1 member)

-J.A. Nolan, Liberal (1975-1979)

-Jn. Butt, Prog. Cons. (1979-1989)
-P. Cowan, Liberal (1989-1996)
-Rbt. French, Prog. Cons. (1996-2002)
-T. French, Prog. Cons. (2002-2014)



Geography


The riding of Conception Bay South contains about half of the Town of Conception Bay South.  The Town of Conception Bay South was formed in an amalgamation of nine municipalities in 1973.  The riding contains the former municipalities of Foxtrap, Long Pond, Manuels, Kelligrews and part of Chamberlains. It also contains some remote areas on the western fringes of the City of St. John's. As the name indicates, the riding is located at the south end of Conception Bay, and is a western suburb of the capital of St. John's.



Demographics


Due to its proximity to the province's largest city, Conception Bay South is one of the fastest growing municipalities in the province, seeing a 13% population increase from 2006 to 2011. This is quite an achievement in a province that has for much of the last 20 years seen a decrease in population. This increase has moved the town ahead of Mount Pearl as the second largest municipality in the province.

Not only is Conception Bay South growing rapidly, it is also wealthier than the province as a whole. The average income in the town is $40,000, which is $5000 more than the provincial average. As one would expect, the town is overwhelmingly White and overwhelmingly English speaking. Its main cleavage is religion. Within the riding, about 43% of residents are Anglican, while 27% are Catholic and 12% are United Church. In terms of ethnicity, about half of the population identify as English, while there is also a substantial population with Irish ancestry. 





Political geography


In 2011, French won every single polling division for the Tories, with a majority of the vote. In his worst poll, #2, which is in Chamberlains in the north of the riding, he still won 57% of the vote. The Manuels / Chamberlains area as a whole was the worst part of the riding for French, only winning 66% of the vote. French broke the 75% mark in several polls in the riding. Altogether, his best part of the riding was in Foxtrap, where he won 71%. For the NDP, which finished second in the riding, their best area was in Manuels / Chamberlains, perhaps due to the fact that it lies in the federal riding of the St. John's East, currently held by popular NDP MP Jack Harris. The southern part of the riding can be found in the federal riding of Avalon. The area of Conception Bay South in Avalon is a bellwether for the riding (and its predecessor of St. John's East), going Liberal in 2004, 2008 and 2011 when the riding went Liberal, and going Tory in 1997, 2000 and 2007 when the riding went Conservative or PC.


2011 election results by area

 

Outlook


The Tories have had a bad track record with recent provincial by-elections in the province, losing every single one since the 2011 provincial election. If this hemorrhaging will stop, it might be tonight in this Tory-friendly riding. However, the Liberals do have the potential of picking it up. After all, it's not like they have never won the riding before, as they have previously held it in the early 1990s. Additionally, the area is a bellwether in federal elections, and went Liberal in the last federal election. Recent polls have not seen a bounce for the Tories under Paul Davis' premiership, and using a uniform swing from the last election, the Tories would lose this seat. However, due to Davis being from the area, I expect there will be a “favourite son” effect, with the Tories possibly winning the race in a squeaker.

One thing that may help the Liberals win election is the fact that they're running a local town councillor, Rex Hillier, who represents Ward 1 in Conception Bay South, which covers Chamberlains and part of Manuels. Running for the Tories is Barry Petten, the former executive assistant for French. The NDP, which finished a distant second in 2011 is running Memorial University student Cameron Mercer-Maillet. The NDP has had many internal struggles recently, and has been faltering in the polls as a result. They should not be a factor in this Liberal-PC race. We'll see what happens when polls close at 8pm (6:30 Eastern).