Monday, October 20, 2014

Levis, Quebec by-election today

Across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City lies the city of Levis, Quebec. Levis is home to the riding of Levis, whose voters are heading to the polls today to elect a new member of the National Assembly of Quebec in a provincial by-election. Voters in the riding last went to the polls just six months ago in the last provincial election held on April 7, when they voted in Christian Dube of the C.A.Q. Dube resigned his seat in August to work for the Casse de depot et placement, a fund that manages Quebec's public pension plans.

The riding of Levis hugs the St. Lawrence River in a narrow strip running from the city's eastern limits in the east to the Chaudiere River in the west, and from the St. Lawrence in the north to Autoroute 20 in the south. The riding contains the old core of Levis, the former city of Lauzon, and the former municipalities of Saint-David-de-l'Aberiviere and Saint-Romuald. Lauzon and Saint-David were amalgamated with old Levis in 1989, while Saint-Romuald was amalgamated in 2002. Saint-Romuald is found in the borough of Les Chutes-de-la-Chaudiere-Est while the rest of the riding is in the Borough of Desjardins.


Despite being considered a suburb of Quebec City, a majority of homes in the riding were built before 1980. The riding is overwhelmingly Francophone, with 98.0% of inhabitants having French as their mother tongue, compared to just 0.9% for English. The riding is also overwhelmingly White at 97.7%. There are few immigrants in the riding, with just 4.5% of the riding being either first or second generation. In terms of ethnicity, almost all of the population identifies as Canadian (96.2%), with a majority also identifying as French (50.7%). There is also a small Irish population (5.9%). 87.1% of the riding is Catholic, while most of the remainder of the population is non religious at 10.3%. The riding is slightly wealthier than the provincial average. The median income is $31,000 while the average is $37,000. The largest industry in the riding is health and social assistance at 15%. Retail is next at 13.3% and there is also some manufacturing 11.1% of the labour force.


Levis is found in the “small-c” conservative heartland of Quebec known as the Chaudiere-Appalaches region. The riding is found in the federal constituency of Levis—Bellechasse which is held by Conservative cabinet minister Steven Blaney. Blaney has held the seat since 2006. The riding also went Tory during the Mulroney years in the 1980s, and it even voted Social Credit in 1962. Provincially, the riding has been held by the centre-right C.A.Q. since 2012, and has also been represented often by centre-right parties in the National Assembly, like the A.D.Q. (2007-2008), Ralliement creditiste du Quebec (1970-1973) and was held off-and-on by the Union Nationale before that.


1) J.-G. Blanchet, Cons. (1867-1875)
2) E.-T. Paquet, Liberal (1875-1879); Cons. (1879-1883)
3) F.-X. Lemieux, Liberal (1883-1892)
4) Angus Baker, Cons. (1892-1897)
* F.-X. Lemieux, Liberal (1897) 2nd time
5) N.-N. Olivier, Liberal (1897-1898)
6) Chas. Langelier, Liberal (1898-1901)
7) J.-C. Blouin, Liberal (1901-1911)
8) Laetare Roy, Liberal (1911-1912)
9) Alphonse Bernier, Cons. (1912-1916)
10) A.-V. Roy, Liberal (1916-1931)
11) Arthur Belanger, Liberal (1931-1935)
12) J.-T. Larochelle, A.L.N. (1935-1936); U.N. (1936-1939)
13) J.-G. Francoeur, Liberal (1939-1944)
* J.-T. Larochelle, U.N. (1944-1949) 2nd time
14) J.-A. Samson, U.N. (1949-1952)
15) Raynold Belanger, Liberal (1952-1956)
* J.-A. Samson, U.N. (1956-1960) 2nd time
16) Roger Roy, Liberal (1960-1966)
17) J.-M. Morin, U.N. (1966-1970)
18) J.-A. Roy, R.C. (1970-1973)
19) V.F. Chagnon, Liberal (1973-1976)
20) Jean Garon, P.Q. (1976-1998)
21) Ms. Linda Goupil, P.Q. (1998-2003)
22) Ms. Carole Theberge, Liberal (2003-2007)
23) Christian Levesque, A.D.Q (2007-2008)
24) Gilles Lehouillier, Liberal (2008-2012)
25) Christian Dube, C.A.Q. (2012-2014)

Political geography

Levis is not quite as conservative as the rest of the Chaudiere-Appalaches region. While the federal riding of Levis—Bellechase went Conservative in 2011, the Levis part of the riding went NDP. Historically, Levis has also been more supportive of the Bloc than the surrounding region. Provincially, Levis went for the centre-right C.A.Q. party, while Bellechasse went for the Liberals. However, other parts of Chaudiere-Appalaches gave the C.A.Q. stronger percentages in the April provincial election.

The riding itself is quite politically homogenous. In April, only two polling divisions in the entire riding went Liberal, while the remaining polling divisions all went for the C.A.Q. This is despite the fact that the Dube only won with 40.5% of the vote to the Liberals' 34.9% (it should be noted that the Liberals won the advance vote by a considerable margin in the riding, which mostly contributed to this).

2014 ELECTION DAY results by area

The older part of the riding tends to be less conservative. Old Levis was the worst part of the riding of the C.A.Q. in April, where they won 43% of the election day vote, compared to the 48% won in neighbourhing Lauzon. Old Levis was the best part of the riding for the more left leaning parties, with the PQ winning 15.7%, QS winning 8.9% and Option nationale winning almost a full percent. The Liberal vote was spread out fairly evenly throughout the riding. Historically, they have been better in Old Levis and Lauzon than the rest of the riding.


Recent province-wide polling has shown that the C.A.Q. has moved firmly into 2nd place, behind the governing Liberals in the province, with the P.Q. in a distant third. The C.A.Q. is up at least five points from the election held in April, which has come mostly at the expense of the P.Q., but it has cost the Liberals at least three points in the polls, if not more. Therefore, it stands to reason that today's by-election will easily result in a C.A.Q. victory, considering they had won the seat in April. The C.A.Q. is running TV host Francois Paradis, who has worked for TVA. The Liberals are running municipal civil servant Janet Jones, who is counting on the popularity of the governing Liberals to be high enough for a surprise win here. The PQ candidate is Alexandre Begin, a political aide, who will try to prevent the PQ from seeing its worst showing in the riding since its first election in 1970, where they won 13.6%. The socialist Quebec solidaire party is running Yv Bonnier Viger who is a professor at Laval University and ran for the party in April. He will be looking at increasing the 6% of the vote he won, which was the best ever showing for the fledgling party. Also running of note is the leader of the Green Party, Alex Tyrrell and Conservative Party leader Adrien Pouliot as well as five other candidates.

Polls close at 8pm.

Monday, September 22, 2014

2014 New Brunswick Election - Final Projection

New Brunswickers head to the polls today to elect the 49 members of the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly. Heading into the campaign, it appeared as though the opposition Liberal Party was headed for a certain landslide majority government. However, following a gaffe-filled CBC interview with Liberal leader Brian Gallant, the polls have tightened in the province, and nothing is certain in today's vote.

Polls have been few and far between in this campaign, which has resulted in few projections on my part. In fact, I have only done one other projection in this campaign. This is unfortunate, because it has meant I have not been paying enough attention to the election to come up with a decent model. Nonetheless, I will use my basic vote distribution model for this final projection to try and come up with some sort of numbers. For this final projection, I have used two polls in an attempt to come up with a projected seat count. These two polls are one published by Forum Research last night which shows the Liberals and Tories in a literal tie (40% a piece), and one conducted by Corporate Research Associates last week, which showed the Liberals ahead 45-36.

There has definitely been a shift, in what little polls there have been, from the Liberals to the Tories, at least since Gallant's interview with the CBC on September 12. This means it is quite possible that the momentum will carry forward, for the Progressive Conservatives, into the election today, and win in a close election. How much momentum they still have is something one can only speculate on.

Perhaps including the older CRA poll in my model may skew my projection in favour of the Liberals, when it is actually the Tories that have the momentum. However, the smaller sample size of the poll has ensured its weight is much smaller than in the Forum poll. Nonetheless, it is enough for my model to show the Liberals with a narrow 42%-38% lead. This translates into 30 seats for the Liberals and 19 for the Tories.

Another factor that may help the Liberals win the election is geography. The electoral map of New Brunswick has helped the Liberals out in the past. In the 2006 election, the Tories won the popular vote by a mere 0.4%, but it was the Liberals who won a majority government, winning the election by three seats. However, the map of New Brunswick's ridings has changed since then, and the map may be fairer than the last. In fact, a quick extrapolation of the 2010 results shows both parties would win close to the same number of seats if they were tied in the popular vote. While the current map might have been fair for the 2010 results, the distribution of the votes in this election may be very different. Despite the tie in their poll from last night, Forum Research shows the Liberals ahead in Central and Eastern New Brunswick, while they are far behind in the South. If this poll shows an accurate regional breakdown, then we can assume that much of the Tory support is sitting in the giant vote sink that is Southern New Brunswick, where my model shows them winning all but two seats. However, Southern New Brunswick only has 11 seats, and even if the Tories won all of them, they would be nowhere close to winning a majority.

If the Tories are to win the election, they will need to close the gap in the rest of the province, outside of the South. My model shows quite a few marginal seats that the Progressive Conservatives could win. The closest seats in my model (where the Liberals area ahead) are Memramcook-Tantramar, Moncton South, Shippagan-Lameque-Miscou, Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin, Fredericton-York, Oromocto-Lincoln and Saint John Harbour. A near sweep of these ridings could be enough for them to win the election.

Other than the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives, my model shows no other parties winning any seats. Despite so much optimism from the NDP in the lead up to today's vote, the polls have not been favourable to the party (Forum has the NDP at 12%), as voters are shifting back to the more traditional two parties. This is not to say the NDP won't win any seats. There are a number of seats they have targeted, such as their leader's riding of Fredericton West-Hanwell, Saint John Harbour and Independent MLA (running for the NDP) Bev Harrison's riding of Hampton. The populist People's Alliance party (who are only running in 18 districts) are also targeting a number of seats, such as their leader's seat of Fredericton-Grand Lake, and their deputy leader's seat of Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin. Their deputy leader actually mentioned to me on Twitter that he was neck and neck in the seat, and that he would send me internal polls to prove it. I didn't receive any, and so my model has him at just 8%. The Greens have been polling well-ish (Forum has them at 6%), but we all know they tend to over-poll. Their best bet is the urban progressive-leaning seat of Fredericton South, where their leader is running. Due to the lack of detailed regional polls in the election, it is impossible for me to accurately gauge how strong local candidacies are of any party, especially the smaller parties, which tend to focus their entire campaigns on a small handful of seats.

Leading mother tongue by census subdivision

My overall projection map shows the geographic polarization of New Brunswick. The Tories are strong in the socially conservative “Baptist Belt” in south and west of the province, while the Liberals are stronger in the Acadian areas, along the Atlantic coast, and in the northeast. This is the general pattern in New Brunswick politics, and the key to victory tends to be in breaking into the other side's traditional territory, usually done with strong local candidates. New Brunswick election maps rarely show this polarization as much as my projection map does, and it is likely that the strength of certain local candidates will make this particular map look quite different from the actual electoral map that will be produced by the voters today. 

New Brunswick religion map by county
Projected results by riding (ridings coloured by how they went in 2010, using transposed results): 

Polls close at 8pm (7pm Eastern). 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

2014 New Brunswick Election Projection #1 (Sept 4)

Projection Map #1
We are now two weeks into the New Brunswick provincial election, since the writs dropped August 21, which marked the beginning of the campaign. This means that there are just two and a half weeks to go before New Brunswickers head to the polls on September 22. And, only this week have there been any polls released. Now that there has been some polls, I can finally do my first seat projection of the campaign.

Corporate Research Associates (CRA), Atlantic Canada's main pollster, released a poll on September 2nd showing the Opposition Liberal Party firmly in the lead at 48%. The governing Progressive Conservatives were in second, with 28%, and the NDP was at 17%. Forum Research also released a poll, a few days earlier, showing similar numbers; The Liberals were at 46%, the Tories at 31% and the NDP at 15%. Both of these polls were conducted before Labour Day, so there is the caveat of notoriously unreliable Summer polling, but the numbers are on par with CRA polls from the Spring.

Neither pollster provided for any regional or even linguistic breakdowns in their numbers, which will make individual seat projections a lot more of a crapshoot than in other provinces. For my first projection, I took an average of the two polls (weighted based on sample size), and plugged it into my projection model, which is based on the transposed 2010 election results. (See this post for the calculated transposed results of the 2010 election). I also made some minor tweaks to reflect which candidates will be on the ballot (the nomination period having ended), and I also made adjustments in three ridings based on circumstance:

* Tracadie-Sheila: I reduced the support for the NDP in this riding, because the party saw a larger-than-usual vote share in 2010 because their leader at the time ran in this riding. (I based my math on what the NDP should have received in this riding in 2010, if it saw the same swing as the rest of the province.)
* Fredericton West-Hanwell: Conversely, I raised the support for the NDP in this riding, because their leader is running in it. (I based my math on the increase that NDP leader Dominic Cardy saw when he ran in a by-election two years ago in Rothesay, compared to province-wide polling at the time.)
* Carleton-Victoria: In this riding, the Liberals suspended their candidate (Andrew Harvey) based on fraud charges. Because the nomination period is over, he will remain on the ballot. I have yet to come up with a very good math-based solution to base my projection in this riding, but for now, I weakened Harvey's candidacy based on a similar scenario that occurred in the federal election, where a Liberal candidate appeared on the ballot after losing the party's support due to scandal. Assuming most of his vote will go to the NDP, I increased the NDP's share in this riding accordingly, to compensate. I may want to tweak the numbers in this district in the future, as my model still shows the Liberals in second place.

As always, I will be making further adjustments to my model to reflect candidate strengths, and other factors in the coming weeks. But for now, my model shows a large Liberal majority government. According to my projection, the Liberals would win 38 of the 49 seats in the New Brunswick legislature. The Tories would win 10 seats (almost all of them in the socially conservative “Baptist belt” of southwestern New Brunswick), and the NDP would win one seat (Fredericton West-Hanwell, where Cardy is running). This would be a 25 seat increase for the Liberals, and 32 seat decrease for the Tories from the 2010 election. For the NDP, it would be their first seat won since 2003. For the Liberals, it would be their largest electoral victory since 1995, and it would be the worst defeat for the Tories since then. In that election, the Liberals won 48 of 55 seats, and won 52% of the vote to 31% for the PCs, a similar result to current polling.

Projected results by riding (ridings coloured by how they went in 2010, using transposed results): 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Provincial by-election today in St. George's-Stephenville East, Newfoundland

Location of St. George's-Stephenville East in Newfoundland
Voters in the southwestern Newfoundland riding of St. George's-Stephenville East will head to the polls today to elect a new member of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly (MHA) for their district. The seat became vacant in June, when its MHA, Progressive Conservative Joan Shea (nee Burke), Newfoundland's Environment Minister resigned, citing a lack of energy. Shea's departure is yet another sign of the declining fortunes of Newfoundland's governing Progressive Conservative party, which is currently amidst a postponed leadership election. (The party was set to acclaim businessman Frank Coleman as leader in July, but he had to withdraw amidst controversy, citing family matters, thus delaying the vote until September).

Map of the riding, showing poll boundaries and various geographic features


The riding of St. George's-Stephenville East can be found in the southwestern corner of the Island of Newfoundland. It takes in the eastern half of the Town of Stephenville, the riding's largest municipality, and wraps around St. George's Bay, including the towns of Stephenville Crossing and St. George's. The riding continues southward along the southwestern coast of the province, ending at the tiny community of Red Rocks, northwest of Port aux Basques. Stephenville, Stephenville Crossing and St. George's are the only incorporated municipalities in the riding. However, there are many smaller unincorporated communities dotting the coastline. The three municipalities are located in the north of the riding, close to the mouth of the St. George's River. The population in the rest of the riding are concentrated in two regions: Bay St. George South in the central part of the riding, and the Codroy Valley, in the south.


The riding has a large unemployment rate, with labour force participation in most communities being below 50%. This fact makes the riding fairly poor, with most communities in the low $20,000 range for median individual income, which is nearly $5,000 below the provincial median. Those who do work tend to work in Sales and Trades, with the traditional fishing industry having been decimated in recent years. Ethnically speaking, the riding has a good mix of English, French, First Nations and Irish roots. Catholicism is the majority religion, while Anglicanism is the largest Protestant denomination.


St. George's-Stephenville East was formed in 1996 when the riding of Stephenville was split in half, with its eastern section joining the riding of St. George's to form the new riding of St. George's-Stepheville East. While most of the territory in the new riding came from St. George's, the MHA from Stephenville (Kevin Aylward) would represent the new riding.

Including the preceding St. George's riding, the riding has been a good bellwether, having voted for the party that would go on to form government in every election since 1979. The Liberals most recently won the seat in 1999, with 53% of the vote. Since then, they bottomed out at 25% in 2007, but increased their share of the vote in 2011 to 33% when their leader (Kevin Aylward) ran in the seat. The Tories have held the seat since 2003, when Shea (then Burke) defeated Liberal Ron Dawe, who held the seat as Tory in the 1980s. Burke defeated Daw by less than 500 votes, or about 8%. She was easily re-elected in 2007 with 74% of the vote, but Aylward gave her a run for her money in 2011, when she won 49%. The NDP has rarely ever run in the riding. In fact, the party has only run in the seat once since the district was created 18 years ago. Bernice Hancock ran for the New Democrats in 2011, winning a respectable 17% of the vote.


W.J. Keough, Liberal (1949-1971)
A.M. Dunphy, Prog. Cons. (1971-1975)
Mrs. H.A. McIsaac, Liberal (1975-1979)
R.G. Dawe, Prog. Cons. (1979-1989)
L. Short, Liberal (1989-1993)
B. Hulan, Liberal (1993-1996)
K. Aylward, Liberal (1996-2003)
Mrs. J. Shea (Burke), Prog. Cons. (2003-2014)

Political geography

Shea's victory in 2011 was helped by winning large margins in the southern, more rural parts of the riding where she won all but one poll. Her best region was in the Bay St. George South area, where she won 62% of the vote. Her best poll was also in this region, #25, where she won 76% of the vote. This poll covers the community of McKay's. The Liberals did their best in the Stepheville area, where they won 38% of the vote. This was still not enough to beat Shea there, but they did win four of their eight polls in this region. However, the strongest poll for the Liberals was #17, where they won 78% of the vote. This poll covers the community of Mattis Point, which is across the St. George's River from Stephenville Crossing, Aylward's hometown. The NDP's best region was also the Stephenville area, where they won 21% of the vote. Their best poll was #11, which covers the community of Black Duck Siding in the northern part of the riding. In this poll, the NDP won 35% of the vote, which was not enough to win the poll. However, the NDP did tie one poll with the Liberals, #29. This poll covers the community of Highlands in the Bay St. George South area.

Results of the 2011 provincial election by polling division

Federally, the area belongs to the riding of Random—Burin—St. George's. The area was much more Liberal in the 2011 federal election, with Liberal MP Judy Foote winning 38% of the vote in St. George's-Stephenville East polls. However, this number was much lower than her 50% she won across the federal riding. Within St. George's-Stephenville East, St. George's area was the best region for Foote, while the Tories did the best in Bay St. George South, the only region in St. George's-Stephenville East where they beat the Liberals. This region tends to be the most anti-Liberal area in the riding, both provincially and federally, while Stephenville has historically been the most Liberal. In the 2011 election, the NDP's best region was actually the Codroy Valley in the south. Across the provincial riding, the federal Conservatives won 33% of the vote, the NDP won 27% and the Greens won 2%.

Recent election results by region

Despite the NDP having only run in the seat once in the riding's history, the federal party has had a lot of success in the region, sweeping the Catholic-majority region in 2004 with the candidacy of Des McGrath, a Catholic priest. The party also did well in 2008, capturing a number of rural polls.


In today's by-election, the Tories are running Kippens (a town outside the riding) resident Wally Childs, a principal at a school in St. George's. The Liberals are running Scott Reid, a political science instructor at Memorial University, who was raised in the Codroy Valley. The NDP are running their candidate from 2011, Bernice Hancock, who is a program director from Stephenville.

The most recent province-wide polling suggests the Liberals are headed to a landslide majority government in the next provincial election. This means that bellwether seats, like St. George's-Stephenville East will more than likely be caught up in the Liberal tide. This is why I am fairly confident that the Liberals will win the riding tonight.

Polls close at 8:00pm Newfoundland time, or 6:30pm Eastern.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Brunswick provincial redistribution and transposition

2010 Election results on the new boundaries
Yesterday, New Brunswick Premier David Alward met with the New Brunswick lieutenant-governor, asking for the province's legislative assembly to dissolve on Thursday. This will mark the beginning of the 2014 New Brunswick election campaign, which is scheduled to occur in just over one month's time, on September 22nd. The 2014 election will be fought over new electoral district boundaries, which were set by a commission last year. In total, New Brunswick Legislative Assembly will be reduced in size from 55 seats to 49 seats, meaning there will be six fewer ridings in the province. In a rare move in Canadian history, the redistribution saw a complete re-draw of the electoral map, due to the dramatic decrease in the number of ridings.

The decrease in the number of seats in the Assembly hurts the depopulating north the most, as Northern New Brunswick loses two seats with the redistribution (going from 10 to 8). Next door Miramichi is also badly hurt by the redistribution, as it sees a 25% reduction of seats, going from four seats to three. The Upper Saint John River Valley, Central New Brunswick (Fredericton area) and Southern New Brunswick (Saint John) all lose one seat a piece. No regions of the province sees a gain in seats, but Southeast New Brunswick, which includes the Greater Moncton Area, sees a net gain/loss of zero seats. 

Actual 2010 election results

Due to these changes, I took the initiative to calculate the results of the last provincial election in 2010 and transpose them on the new boundaries. Unfortunately, Elections New Brunswick did not publicly release their own transposition numbers, unlike some other provinces. I'm not the only blogger to do to a transposition, nbpolitico did one (but he's only providing more detailed numbers at a cost) and Blunt Objects did one as well, free of charge (much to my chagrin, as I had already started on this project, not realizing someone else would do it!). Interestingly, both nbpolitico and Blunt Objects show different numbers than in my transposition. They obviously used a different methodology than myself, so all my effort was not all for naught. 


To calculate my transposition, I identified which polling divisions would be going into which new riding, which was usually quite simple, but involved some guess-work, as in many cases, the new boundaries split up polling divisions. Then, I added up the results from the 2010 election from these polling divisions based on the new ridings they were in. But, that did not account for all of the votes cast in 2010. I had to account for advance votes and special votes (prisoners, military personnel, people living abroad). Advance votes were cast in larger polling divisions. Elections New Brunswick usually identified which polling divisions the advance voting divisions covered. When an advance polling division was entirely in a new riding, I added its result to the total for the new riding. When it spanned more than one new riding, I redistributed the results based on the ratio of the results in the regular polls they overlapped with. With the special votes, which were not allotted to any individual riding, I redistributed the results based on the same ratios as the regular votes cast in the riding. For example, if 40% of the Liberal regular votes in a riding were redistributed into riding “A”, than 40% of the special votes cast for the Liberals were allotted to riding “A”.

According to my redistribution methodology, the Liberals would have won 11 of the new ridings, while the Progressive Conservatives would have won 38. This would be two fewer seats for the Liberals from their actual 2010 total (13), and four fewer for the Progressive Conservatives, who won 42 seats in 2010. This shows that the new map is relatively fair, as it takes seats away from both parties. 

In Northern New Brunswick, the Liberals would have won just three seats, two fewer than the five they actually won in 2010. The Tories however, would retain their five seats. In Eastern New Brunswick, the Liberals would have won five seats on the new boundaries, down from seven which they actually won. This is beneficial to the Tories, who would win an extra seat from the Liberals in the Moncton area. Boundary changes in the rest of the province were more beneficial to the Liberals, where they won just one seat in 2010. The new boundaries would have given them two new seats, Fredericton South and Saint John Harbour. Changes in the rest of the province hurt the Tories the most, as they would see a reduction of five seats there.

The other parties in New Brunswick did not win any seats in 2010, and would not win any with the new boundaries either. The best result for the NDP would be in Tracadie-Sheila, where they won 33%, thanks to their leader, Roger Duguay having ran there. The Green's best result would be in Fredericton South, where they won 13% in 2010. Fredericton South contains the more progressive parts of Fredericton, taking in parts of the former ridings of Ferericton-Silverwood and Fredericton-Lincoln. The populist People's Alliance Party saw their best result in Fredericton-Grand Lake (14%), which contains part of the former riding of Grand Lake-Gagetown, where their leader Kris Austin ran.

Redistributed results of the 2010 New Brunswick election on the new ridings being used in 2014.

According to my transposition numbers, the closest of the new ridings on the new map would have been Moncton Centre, where my numbers show the Tories winning by just 6 (0.1%) transposed votes! Moncton Centre contains parts of the Liberal riding of Moncton East and the Tory riding of Moncton North. Interestingly, the incumbents from both Moncton East and Moncton North will duke it out to see who will win the new riding. The next closest riding would have been Saint John Harbour, where my numbers show the Liberals having won by 0.16%. This would be a gain for the Liberals, as the riding on its old boundaries elected a Tory in 2010. Fredericton South also saw a close race, with my transposed numbers showing the Liberals having won it by just 0.17% on the new boundaries. The new riding contains the most Liberal parts of two current PC-held ridings, Fredericton-Silverwood and Fredericton-Lincoln. Other close ridings were Fundy-The Isles-Saint John West (Liberal by 1.3%), Miramichi (Liberal by 1.3%), Bathurst West-Beresford (PC by 1.8%), Campbellton-Dalhousie (PC by 2.95%) and Shediac Bay-Dieppe (Liberal by 3.8%).

The 49 new ridings (click to enlarge)

Throughout the election campaign, I will be using my calculated numbers to do my seat projection forecasts for the election. However, there have yet to be any recent polls released in the province, so I will not be doing any projections until they are released. (Any poll conducted before Labour Day should be treated with a grain of salt, anyways).

Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30 Federal by-election profiles: Macleod

Location in Alberta
Federal by-elections will be held in four ridings today: two in Ontario (Scarborough—Agincourt and Trinity—Spadina) and two in Alberta (Fort McMurray—Athabasca and Macleod). I have been doing profiles of each of the four ridings in the run-up to by-election day. Today I will be profiling Macleod.

Macleod is a rural riding located in the southwestern part of Alberta. It contains many small towns south of Calgary, and includes a number of the city's western and southern exurbs. The riding is one of the safest seats in the country for the Conservatives – it was their fourth best seat in the 2011 election. The riding has been vacant since last November, when its Member of Parliament, Ted Menzies, a junior cabinet minister, resigned to become a lobbyist. Menzies, a farmer from Claresholm, has represented the riding since 2004.


Macleod is a fairly large riding, located in the foothills of southern Alberta. It runs from a line roughly following the Bow River in the north, to Waterton Lakes National Park in the south. The western boundary is the provincial border with British Columbia. In the southeast, the border follows the Old Man and St. Mary Rivers, while its northeastern boundary wraps around Vulcan County. In the north, the riding follows the Calgary city limits as they were in the last redistribution in 2003. Since then, the City of Calgary has annexed some territory in its south and west, which means Macleod also covers a small part of the city of Calgary. While Macleod is mostly a rural riding, much of its population lives in exurban Calgary communities on the city's west and south sides.

The riding's largest city is Okotoks (actually still incorporated as a town), which is a fast growing exurb south of Calgary. Other Calgary exurbs in the riding include the towns of Turner Valley, Black Diamond and High River. Also, a small part of the Town of Cochrane is in the riding (an area that has been annexed since the last redistribution). Other major communities in the riding include Vulcan, Claresholm, Crowsnest Pass, Pincher Creek, and the riding's namesake, Fort Macleod (which was originally named Macleod). The riding also includes a number of large Indian Reserves, including the largest reseve in Canada (by area), Blood 148. It is also the second most populous Indian Reserve in the country. Other reseves include Peigan 146, Siksika 146, Eden Valley 216 and Tsuu T'ina 145.

The riding includes a number of protected areas, mostly along the western boundary with British Columbia, in the Rocky Mountains. The largest of these protected areas is the Elbow-Sheep Wildland in Kananaskis. Other major protected areas include the Don Getty Wildland, the Bluerock Wildland and the Bob Creek Wildland. Outside of these protected areas, most of the land in the riding is covered by Agricultural lands, including many cattle ranches.


Macleod is mostly White (84%), but has a sizable (12%) Aboriginal population. Most of the Aboriginal population in the riding is Blackfoot, but there are also Sarcee and Stoney populations as well. The only Sarcee Reserve (Tsuu T'ina Nation) in Canada is in Macleod. Christianity is the religion of two-thirds (67%) of the riding. One third of Christians in the riding are Catholics, while one in six Christians belong to the United Church. 6% of the riding is Anglican. The largest non Christian religion is Traditional Aboriginal spirituality, at 2%. 29% of the riding is irreligious. The riding is one of the poorest in the province, but considering Alberta's wealth, it is not among the poorest in the country. Its median individual income is $33,000 while it's median household income is $77,000.

Owing to Calgary's growing exurban communities, Macleod is seeing a large population increase. It grew 15% between the last two censuses, which is above the Alberta average of 11%. Half of all homes in the riding have been built since 1991. Construction is the largest industry in the riding, at 10% of the labour force. 

Most common language after English by municipality (or Census Tract)
88% of the riding has English as its mother tongue. The next largest mother tongue is German at just 4%. Blackfoot is the mother tongue of 2% of the population. German is the largest non-English language in most of the riding, especially in rural areas. There is an especially large German concentration in Cardston County (40%) and Vulcan County (31%). The Villages of Carmangay (36%) and Arrowwood (30%), which are surrounded by Vulcan County also have large German populations. French is the largest non-English language in a number of municipalities as well, especially areas along the BC-border in the Rockies. The largest French population in the riding is in Kananaskis, where 8% of residents have it as a mother tongue. Blackfoot is the main non-English language on the three Blackfoot reserves in the riding: the Blood Tribe, the Piikani (Peigan) Nation and the Siksika Nation. Stoney is the largest language (55%) on the Eden Valley Reserve while Sarcee is the largest native tongue in the Tsuu T'ina Nation.


The most recent iteration of Macleod was created for the 1988 election out of Bow River and Lethbridge ridings. The only close-ish race since then was 1988, when the up-start Reform Party gave businessman Ken Hughes a run for his money. Hughes, a Progressive Conservative won with 51% of the vote, to Reform's Ken Copithorne who won 31%. It was Reform's third best riding in the country in an election where they won no seats. In 1993, when Reform became a mainstream party, its candidate was Grant Hill, a doctor, who defeated Hughes in a landslide – by over 17,000 votes. Hill won again in 1997 and in 2000 (for the Canadian Alliance), increasing his popular vote total in each election. In all three of his electoral victories, the Progressive Conservatives finished a distant second.

In 2004, Hill did not run again. The newly merged Conservative Party ran Ted Menzies, who won a massive three-quarters of the vote. He won the seat over Liberal candidate Chris Shade by over 27,000 votes. Menzies slightly increased his share of the vote in 2006, defeating Liberal Bernie Kennedy by nearly 33,000 votes. In 2008, Menzies increased his share of the vote once again, winning 77.4%. The next best candidate was from the Green Party this time, Jared McCollum who won 9%, over 31,000 votes behind Menzies. In 2011, Menzies increased his vote share for his third straight election, winning 77.5%. This time the NDP finished second place. Menzies defeated their candidate, Janine Giles by nearly 35,000 votes.

Macleod is a very, very, very safe Conservative seat. Opposition parties are lucky to break even 10% here. All three opposition parties have had their chance at second place. Since 1988, the best showing for the Liberals was in 1993 when they won 16%. Their worst showing was in 2011 when they won less than 4% of the vote. For the NDP, their best showing was in 2011 when they won 10%, and their worst was in 1993 when they won less than 2%. The Greens had their best showing in 2008 when they finished in 2nd place with 9%.

Members of Parliament

Alberta (Provisional District)

Before Alberta became a province in 1905, it was the District of Alberta in the Northwest Territories. It was represented by one MP.

- D.W. Davis, Cons. (1887-1896)
- F. Oliver, Liberal (1896-1904)


For the 1904 election, the southern part of the District of Alberta was divided into two ridings: Calgary and Alberta. The border between the two ridings would run between Vulcan and Nanton. Calgary was the northern of these two ridings, containing not only the City of Calgary, but also Vulcan, Okotoks, High River, Black Diamond and Turner Valley. Nanton, Stavely, Claresholm, Pincher Creek and Fort Macleod would be in the Alberta riding.

- M.S. McCarthy, Cons. (1904-1908)


The first iteration of Macleod was carved from the southwestern corner of the Calgary riding and the western half of the riding of Alberta. The riding covered a similar territory as today. It ran from Calgary in the north up to Lethbridge in the east. In 1914, its eastern boundary was shifted, lobbing the Vulcan area off, removing it from the riding. In 1924 the boundaries were only altered slightly, and in 1933 the Vulcan area rejoined the riding at the expense of Okotoks, Black Diamond and Turner Valley which were removed. In 1952, the northern boundary was shifted back northwards to include these communities again.

- Jn. Herron, Lib.-Cons. (1908-1911)
- D. Warnock, Liberal (1911-1917)
- H.M. Shaw, Unionist (1917-1921)
- G.G. Coote, Prog. (1921-1926); U.F.A. (1926-1935)
- E.G. Hansell, Soc. Cred. (1935-1958)
- L.E. Kindt, Prog. Cons. (1958-1968)


In the 1966 redistribution, the western half of Macleod was transferred to the riding of Rocky Mountain, while the rest of the riding was mostly redistributed between Crowfoot and Lethbridge. Rocky Mountain was a huge riding running from the US border in the south along the western border with BC northward, almost as far as Grande Prairie. Black Diamond and Turner Valley would be redistributed into Rocky Mountain. The Okotoks, Nanton, High River, Vulcan, Stavely and Claresholm areas would be redistributed into Crowfoot (which extended as far eastward as the Saskatchewan border). The Fort Macleod and Pincher Creek areas were redistributed into Lethbridge.

- J.H. Horner, Prog. Cons. (1968-1979)

Bow River

In the 1976 redistribution, Crowfoot's western boundary was shifted far to the east, excluding almost all of what is now in Macleod. The Fort Macleod and Pincher Creek areas joined the riding of Lethbridge—Foothills. Everything else in what is now Macleod could be found in the new riding of Bow River, which encircled the City of Calgary, and also included Banff National Park and Drumheller.

- G.E. Taylor, Prog. Cons. (1979-1988)


Macleod was re-created for the 1988 election. It covered much of the same territory as the previous Macleod riding. Its boundaries did not change much between then and now.

- K.G. Hughes, Prog. Cons. (1988-1993)
- Grant Hill, Reform (1993-2000); Cdn. Alliance (2000-2003); Prog. Cons. (2003-2004); Cons. (2004)
- T. Menzies, Cons. (2004-2013)


The next election will see Macleod disappear once again. 86% of the riding will be redistributed into the new riding of Foothills. In turn, almost all of Foothills will be carved solely from Macleod. The remaining 14% of Macleod will be redistributed into other ridings. Vulcan County and the Siksika Nation will be removed, joining the new riding of Bow River. Some exurban Calgary communities south of Cochrane will join the riding of Branff—Ardrie, the Blood Tribe will join the riding of Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, while the newly annexed portions of Calgary will join Calgary Midnapore and Calgary Signal Hill.

Removing the Blood Tribe and the Siksika Nation is the main reason why the new riding of Foothills will be ever so slightly more Conservative than Macleod. The changes also make Foothills less NDP and Liberal friendly.

Political geography

Results of the 2011 election by polling division

Despite the fact that the Conservatives typically win every poll in the riding, there is a large degree of polarization in the riding. White areas vote heavily Conservative, while areas with a large First Nations population do not (at least nowhere close to the same degree). In 2011, there were 13 polls where the Conservatives won less than 38% of the vote, while in all the rest of the polls, the Conservatives won at least 60%. In not one single poll did they win anything between 38% and 60%. Of those 13 polls where the Conservatives won less than 38%, just one was not a First Nations community, Kananaskis. Kananaskis is a resort village in the Rocky Mountains in the northwest corner of the riding.

In 2011, the only opposition party to win any polls was the NDP. The NDP won 10 polls, all on Indian Reserves. In 2008, when the Greens finished 2nd, they won one poll: Kananaskis. The NDP won 12 polls and once again, they were all on reserves. In 2004 and 2006 it was the Liberals that benefited from the First Nations vote, as every single opposition poll was a Liberal poll on an Indian Reserve. In 2000, both the Liberals and NDP won Indian Reserve polls, and in 1997 the Progressive Conservatives also won some Indian Reserve polls. Provincially, the Progressive Conservatives also do well in Indian Reserves, due to strategic voting against the right wing Wild Rose Party, which is very popular in this part of the province.

2011 election results by regions, towns and Indian reserves of the riding

For the Conservatives, they seem to do the best in areas with large German populations. In 2011, their best region in the riding was Cardston County where they won 87% of the vote. This is followed by Vulcan County where they won 86%. Both of these regions have large German populations. Their weakest region was the Blood Tribe, where they won 13%. The NDP's best region was the Blood Tribe, where they won 57% of the vote. They also won 57% in the Peigan Nation. For the Greens, their best Region was Kananaskis, a poll which they won in 2008. For the Liberals, their best region was also the Blood Tribe, where they won 23%. They did poorly in German regions, winning less than 1% in both Cardston and Vulcan Counties.

Strongest and weakest polls (2011)

(I've included the Green Party this time, because they finished ahead of the Liberals)

Strongest polls:

-Conservatives: Poll #5-2 (94%). This poll covers a new subdivision in the Town of Cochrane, and some rural areas south of the town. The subdivision, known as the Willows of River Heights, was annexed by Cochrane since the last redistribution.

-NDP: Poll #17 (79%). This poll covers most of the Tsuu T'ina First Nation. The reserve contains two other polls, which cover the Redwood Meadows Townsite, which is actually a White community on the reseve, but with its own administration. However, poll #17 covers the rest of the territory on the reseve, controlled by Tsuu T'ina Nation Council.

-Greens: Poll #1 (24%). This poll covers the resort village of Kanananskis, known for being the location of the 2002 G8 Summit. The Greens actually won the poll in 2008, but the Tories won it in 2011.

-Liberals: Poll #163 (35%). This poll covers one of the six polls on the Blood Tribe Indian Reserve. The Liberals came within 2 votes of winning the poll, which the NDP won. The poll is located east of the main community on the reserve, Standoff.

Weakest polls:

-Conservatives: Poll #161 (3%). This poll is one of six polls located on the Blood Tribe Indian reserve. This poll in particular is the furthest eastern poll on the reserve, and is located adjacent to the City of Lethbridge.

-NDP: Poll #66-1 (1%). This poll covers a rural area east of Okotoks in the Municipal District of Foothills. The poll contains a couple of new subdivisions, including Ravencrest Village.

-Greens: The Greens won 0 votes in five polls. Four of the five polls were on Indian Reserves (#35, #136, #161, #164) and one was poll #5-2 south of Cochrane.

-Liberals: The Liberals won 0 votes in three polls: Poll #157 east of Fort Macleod, Poll #95 in Vulcan and Poll #101 in Carmangay.

2008-2001 Swing

Two party (Conservative vs. NDP) swing (2008-2011) by polling division

Despite Ted Menzies increasing his vote share in 2011 (+0.1%), the two-party swing was against him, as the NDP increased its vote share by 3.6%. The average two-party swing was thus 1.8% from the Conservatives to the NDP. This would explain why most of the NDP saw a swing towards them in most of the riding. One poll in particular stands out in terms of swing to the NDP: poll #17 (Tsuu T'ina First Nation), which was also their best poll in 2011. A huge increase in turnout (almost three-fold) from 2008 to 2011 helped the NDP gain a 41.6% swing in this poll, which they lost in 2008. Interestingly, other reserves in the riding saw a swing to the Conservatives, against the NDP. This is particularly observable in the Siksika Nation and in the Piikani Nation. Outside the reserves, most of the areas that swung Conservative were in rural areas in the central part of the riding. Meanwhile, the Calgary exurbs saw a swing to the NDP, for the most part.


Barring some sort of miracle (if you're not Conservative), the next MP for Macleod will be the Conservative candidate, John Barlow who is a newspaper editor from Okotoks. Barlow won the Tory nomination in a hotly contested race in which the National Firearms Association (Canada's NRA) endorsed his opponents. Barlow was also the Progressive Conservative candidate in the riding of Highwood (Okotoks and High River) in the last Alberta election. He had the pleasure of running (and losing) against Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith.

The sacrificial lambs running against Barlow include Lethbridge resident Aileen Burke who is running for the NDP, former Alberta Evergreen Party leader Larry Ashmore who is running for the Greens and Okotoks regulatory technician Dustin Fuller who is running for the Liberals. The interim leader of the Christian Heritage Party, David J. Reimer is also running. One would expect the CHP to do better in rural southern Alberta, but they have had little success in the past. Perhaps they will get some protest vote, as some conservatives may think Barlow is not right wing enough for the riding.

Forum Research released their final poll of the riding last night. The result shows Barlow at 54%, which would be the worst showing for the Tories in this riding since the party was created before the 2004 election. The Liberals were second in the poll at 15%, which would be their best result since 1993. “Other” was third in the poll at 11% (the CHP is the only “other” party running), indicating that there could be a high right wing protest vote. Both the NDP and the Greens were tied at 6%. For the Tories, anything less than 60% can be seen as a loss in such a safe seat. For the other parties, the big race is for second place, considering the NDP, Greens and Liberals have all held that honour in recent elections.

Update and expectations

That same Forum poll showed some updates for the other ridings as well:

- Trinity—Spadina: Liberal 45%, NDP 35%, Conservative 11%, Green 9%. The NDP has narrowed the gap in this riding, but it still looks as though the Liberals will win it.
- Scarborough—Agincourt: Liberal 48%, Conservative 37%, NDP 10%, Green 4%. The Conservatives have narrowed the gap here as well, but the Liberals should still win this safe seat.
- Fort McMurray—Athabasca: Liberal 41%, Conservative 33%, NDP 13%, Other (Libertarian) 8%, Green 5%. This is the first poll Forum was able to do in this riding that has been very difficult to reliably poll due to its transient population. If this result holds true, it would be a huge upset, as this riding was the 14th best Conservative seat in the country in the last federal election. However, a huge caveat must be put on that poll, and I'm not sure if I quite believe it.

For the Liberals a “win” tonight would mean picking up Trinity—Spadina, but also finishing at least second in Fort McMurray—Athabasca and Macleod (winning the former would be a “huge win”). With Adam Vaughan expected to win in Trinity—Spadina, just picking it up won't be enough to “win the night”. For the Conservatives, a “win” would be to make inroads in Scarborough—Agincourt and also defend their two Alberta seats. And for the NDP, it's going to be a tough night, where a “win” looks to be impossible. At this point keeping Trinity—Spadina would be huge, but just keeping it close would be a win. But losing their 2nd place finishes in Alberta would negate that.

Well, that's it for this round of by-elections. Polls close in all four by-elections at 9:30 Eastern.


Friday, June 27, 2014

June 30 Federal by-election profiles: Fort McMurray--Athabasca

Location of Fort McMurray--Athabasca in Alberta
Federal by-elections will be held in four ridings on June 30th: two in Ontario (Scarborough—Agincourt and Trinity—Spadina) and two in Alberta (Fort McMurray—Athabasca and Macleod). I will be doing profiles of each of the four ridings in the run-up to by-election day. Today I will be profiling Fort McMurray—Athabasca.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca is a huge riding located in the northeastern corner of Alberta. Its total area is over one quarter the size of the entire province. Over half of the population of the riding lives in the “urban service area” of Fort McMurray, a rapidly growing community on the frontier of Alberta's infamous oil sands. The oil sands play a huge part in the economy of the riding, which covers most of the Athabasca Oil Sands bitumen deposit in the surrounding area. Fort McMurray itself is not even an incorporated municipality, as it was amalgamated into the massive Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo in 1995. In the last election, the riding had the lowest voter turnout of any riding in the country.

 The riding was vacated in January when its MP, Conservative Brian Jean vacated it to enter private life. Jean, a lawyer by trade, had represented the riding since 2004. 

Map of the riding


The riding extends from the Northwest Territories border in the north to the communities of Athabasca and Lac La Biche in the south.  It extends as far west as the community of High Prairie and its eastern border is the provincial border with Saskatchewan. Most of the riding is empty of population, being covered by forests and lakes. The riding is home to Canada's largest national park, Wood Buffalo, in the far north of the riding.  Most of the population is concentrated in Fort McMurray in the centre of the riding. Outside of Fort McMurray, almost the entire remaining population lives in the south of the riding, along the “Northern Woods and Water Route” corridor. This region includes the communities of High Prairie, Slave Lake, Athabasca and Lac la Biche. This area is also dotted by numerous lakes, including Lesser Slave Lake, the second largest lake entirely in Alberta.  The largest lake entirely in Alberta, Lake Claire, is also in the riding.  Part of the much larger Lake Athabasca is also in the riding. Both Lake Claire and Lake Athabasca are in the sparsely populated far north of the riding. The riding is also home to its namesake, the Athabasca River, which bifurcates the riding running from the southern border to Lake Athabasca in the northeast.


Fort McMurray—Athabasca has the largest Aboroignal population of any riding in the province. Almost one quarter (22%) of the riding reported being Aboriginal in the 2011 Census.  36% of the Aboriginal population is of Metis descent. Most of the Aboriginal population is Cree, but there are a small handful of Dene communities as well. Two thirds of the population (66%) is white, while there is a small South Asian (4%), Filipino (2%) and Black (2%) community. English is the mother tongue of 81% of the riding. Cree is the next largest language group at 5% and French is at 3%. 

Most common mother tongue after English by census subdivision and Fort McMurray

Cree is spoken across the riding, mostly in the numerous Indian Reserves that dot the map. There is a particularly high concentration of Cree speakers in the Opportunity Municipal District in the central part of the riding. One reserve – Janvier – southeast of Fort McMurray has Dene being the first language of half of its residents. French is the most common language after English in a number of municipalities. The highest concentration is in Northern Sunrise County, but Sunset Beach, South Baptise and Lac la Biche County all have large French populations. French is also the second language in Fort McMurray (represented by the circle on the map), but Cree is the second language of the rest of the Wood Buffalo Regional Municipality. German and Ukrainian is also the second language of some of the municipalities in the south of the riding. In West Baptiste, 1 in 5 residents has Ukrainian as their mother tongue.

Christianity is the religion of two thirds (67%) of the population, with about half of that being Catholic. Anglicanism is the largest Protestant denomination at 7%. Islam is the largest non-Christian faith at 3%, while one quarter (26%) has no religion.  Due to the Oil Sands, there is considerable wealth in the riding. Its median income is $47,000 while the median household income is $123,000. 22% of the labour force works in “mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction”, which is the largest industry in the riding. The riding is experiencing a large boom in population. Over one third of all dwellings were built between 2001 and 2011.


Fort McMurray—Athabasca was created in 1925 as “Athabaska”. It changed names in 1968 to “Athabasca” and then to “Fort McMurray—Athabasca” in 2004. The riding has been consistently represented by right wing parties since 1962. The Progressive Conservatives held it until the rise of the Reform Party in 1993 when David Catters was elected. He represented the Reform Party, then the Canadian Alliance and then the Conservative Party until resigning in 2004. Brian Jean, a Conservative, has held the seat ever since. Since then Jean has never received less than 60% of the vote. The 2011 election saw his best result ever, when he won 72% of the vote. Historically, the Liberals have been the second best party in the riding, and even won the riding frequently before 1962. However, they have not been competitive in the riding in decades, even when finishing 2nd. The NDP has also finished 2nd in the riding on numerous occasions, including the two most recent elections. However, the NDP has never been competitive in the riding's history, even in their best showing in 1988 when they won 27% of the vote. Since then, 2011 was the NDP's best performance when they won 13%.

Members of Parliament:


Part of what is now in Fort McMurray—Athabasca (the Athabasca and Lac la Biche area) was represented by the riding of “Edmonton” in the Northwest Territories. North of this region was in the “District of Athabasca”, which had no representation in Parliament. The riding covered the northern third of the “District of Alberta” including the city of Edmonton.

- F. Oliver, Liberal (1904-1908)


Alberta entered Confederation in 1905, and the northeastern part of the province would become part of the riding of “Victoria”. This riding basically contained everything northeast of Edmonton, including what was then just the trading post of “McMurray”.

- W.H. White, Liberal (1909-1917)

Edmonton East

In 1917, most of the region was transferred to the new riding of Edmonton East, which also included the eastern part of Edmonton.

- H.R. Mackie, Unionist (1917-1921)
- D.F. Kellner, Prog. (1921-1925)

Athabaska / Athabasca / Fort McMurray—Athabasca

Athabaska was created for the 1925 election. At the time, its western border was mostly the fifth meridian of the Dominion Land Survey, which runs between Slave Lake and Athabasca. Its southern border mostly followed the North Saskatchewan River. In 1933 its southern boundary was altered slightly, moving further north. When the riding name was changed to “Athabasca” in 1966, its western boundary was moved far to the west – all the way to the Peace River, while its southern boundary was moved to the north. This would be the first time that the communities of Slave Lake and High Prairie would be in the riding.  Oddly enough, the community of Athabasca was moved out of the riding. Athabasca re-joined the riding in 1976, and the riding's western boundary was moved eastward to generally where it is today. In 1987, the southern boundary was altered again; The Lac la Biche / Bonnyville / Cold Lake area was moved into the new riding of Beaver River, while the Westlock area moved into the riding.  The 1987 borders remained unaltered until 2003 when the current boundaries were adopted.

- C.W. Cross, Liberal (1925-1926)
- D.F. Kellner, U.F.A. (1926-1930) 2nd time
- J.F. Buckley, Liberal (1930-1931)
- P.G. Davies, Cons. (1932-1935)
- P.J. Rowe, Soc. Cred. (1935-1940)
- J.M. Dechene, Liberal (1940-1958)
- F.J. Bigg, Prog. Cons. (1958-1968)
- Paul Yewchuk, Prog. Cons. (1968-1980)
- J.W. Shields, Prog. Cons. (1980-1993)

- D.C. Chatters. Reform / Cdn. Alliance / Cons. (1993-2004)
- B.M. Jean, Cons. (2004-2014)


While Fort McMurray—Athabasca is not too overly populated, it was still too large to remain intact following the 2013 redistribution process. In addition, one can anticipate that the riding will become mcuh more populous with the expansion of the Alberta Oil Sands (in fact, the riding has grown quite rapidly between 2006 and 2011, at a rate of 14.5%).

For the next election, Fort McMurray—Athabasca will be abolished, with most of its territory (and population) being redistributed into the new riding of Fort McMurray—Cold Lake. As the name suggests, it will include the Cold Lake area which is currently in the riding of Westlock—St. Paul. 19% of the riding (including the Slave Lake and High River area) will be redistributed into the new riding of Peace River—Westlock. 11% of the riding (including the Athabasca area) will be transferred to the new riding of Lakeland. The successor riding of Fort McMurray—Cold Lake will be ever so slightly more Conservative than Fort McMurray—Athasbasca, as it loses some First Nations communities where the Conservatives are relatively weak.

Results of the 2011 federal election by polling division

Political geography

Fort McMurray—Athabasca – like almost every riding in Alberta – is extremely Conservative. In 2011, Jean won nearly every poll in the riding, most by large margins; the only polls won by opposition parties covered First Nations communities.  The NDP won four polls, and the Liberals just one. In previous elections the Liberals have won more polls across the riding, but typically only in areas with large Aboriginal populations, especially in the far north and western parts of the riding. Even in the more urban parts of the riding the Liberals and NDP have been shut out in recent elections. Out of all the major centres in the riding, only one poll – in Lac la Biche – has gone anything but Conservative, and that was in 2004 and 2006. However, the Liberals did very well in Fort McMurray back in 1997, but it was not enough to compensate for the large Reform Party numbers in the rest of the riding.

For a rural riding, Fort McMurray—Athabasca has a large transient population due to the growth of the Oil Sands. Much of the population comes economically depressed regions in the country, especially from Newfoundland. This transient population is the most likely cause of the very low voter turnouts in the riding. It's possible that if this transient population actually voted, that the Liberals would do better in the riding- the Liberals are traditionally strong in Atlantic Canada, especially in Newfoundland (perhaps this is why the Liberals did well in Fort McMurray in 1997).

One big caveat is the issue of the environment.  The environmental community has been very critical of the Oil Sands, and with the Liberals focusing more on environmental issues in recent elections, it could make (and has made) the party toxic in places like Fort McMurray. (One reason the Liberals tend to be toxic in Alberta in general).

In 2011, the Conservatives won every single region of the riding. Their best numbers came in Athabasca County, in the south central part of the riding. They won 83% of the vote there. Their worst region was the Opportunity Municipal District and Northern Sunrise County area, where they just won 54%. This region includes a lot of First Nations Communities, and is home to the riding's only Liberal poll. This region was also the best region for the Liberals, where they won 21% of the vote. The NDP's best region was rural Wood Buffalo Regional Municipality (the part of the RM outside Fort McMurray), where they won 24% of the vote. This area includes two of the four polls the NDP won.
2011 election results by regions, towns and neighbourhoods of the riding

Strongest polls (2011)

Conservative: Poll #148 (90%) - This poll covers the community of Breynat in Athabasca County. The community is fairly isolated, being 81 km northwest of Lac La Biche – but it is on the main highway to Fort McMurray.

NDP: Poll #14 (55%) - This poll covers the community of Fort Chipewyan in the far northeast of the riding. “Fort Chip” is in the Wood Buffalo Regional Municipality; it's not an Indian Reserve, but it is home to a large Aboriginal population. It is one of only two polls the NDP won a majority in.

Liberal: Poll #5 (48%) - This poll covers the community of Loon Lake and is the only poll the Liberals won. Loon Lake is a Cree Indian Reserve in the western part of the riding.

Weakest polls (2011)

Conservative: Poll #105 (23%) - This poll covers the Drift Pile River 150 Indian Reserve in Big Lakes Municipal District.

NDP: Poll #144 (3%) - This poll covers the western half of the Village of Boyle in Athabasca County.

Liberal: Poll #102 (0%) - The Liberals didn't win a single poll in this rural area south of High Prairie in Big Lakes Municipal District.  The area is fairly remote, and covers the area around the community of Banana Belt, which you won't find on many maps.


Swing (2008-2011)

Between 2008 and 2011 the riding saw a small swing from the NDP to the Conservative of just 2.2%. Both parties saw a small increase in their share of the vote, but the Tory increase was greater. This small swing to the Conservatives didn't happen in all parts of the riding, though. Certain communities saw swings to the NDP. This occurred in some of the urban areas, and in some of the First Nations communities. Part of the Thickwood Heights neighbourhood in western Fort McMurray saw a  significant swing to the NDP. This area is home to new-ish developments, but by no means is it the newest part of the fast growing community. The newer parts of Fort McMurray (such as Timberlea) actually saw a swing to the Conservatives.

Two party (Conservative vs. NDP) swing (2008-2011) by polling division


Running for the Conservatives is former Athabasca County Deputy Reeve David Yurdiga. Yurdiga represented Division #7 on Athabasca County Council, which covers the Grassland area. Running for the NDP is Fort McMurray resident Lori McDaniel, who is a Suncor employee and a union representative. Running for the Liberals is another Fort McMurray resident Kyle Harrietha, who is the general manager of a local Metis organization. Running for the Greens is Lac La Biche teacher Brian Deheer. There is a fifth candidate who might do well, and that is Tim Moen who is running for the Libertarians. Moen is notable for a number of campaign posters that went viral, such as one saying “I want gay married couples to be able to protect their marijuana plants with guns”. No quote can possibly sum up libertarian ideology better than that!

Forum Research has attempted to poll this riding, but has been unable to receive an adequate sample size to publish any reliable results. This has much to do with the highly transient population and the generally low voter turnout in the riding as well. Just 41% of riding residents bothered to vote in the last federal election. Numbers like that are typical for by-elections in other parts of the country. One can only speculate how low turnout will be for this by-election. Not only is it at the beginning of Summer, but it falls right between a weekend and Canada Day, when many people will be on vacation. And since a huge percentage of the riding – to borrow a Newfoundland expression - “come from away” and are likely to be away, this race will likely see a record low turnout; my guess is somewhere in the 20s.

With no reliable polling, I can only make a prediction on the outcome of this race. The riding's history points to an easy Conservative victory here. However, the Liberals have been polling well in Alberta recently, which means this riding could be in play. The expected low turnout will be the real wild card here. It helps the Liberals' cause that they are running someone from Fort McMurray and the Conservatives are not. Fort McMurray - where a majority of the riding's residents live - is the riding's bellwether, and if the Liberals can do well there, they may be able to win the riding. Even though they finished second in this riding in 2011, I do not believe the NDP will be a factor – it will be a race between the Conservatives and the Liberals.