Monday, May 23, 2011

Ontario political regions: West Durham Region

In the run up to the provincial election, I would like to explore some of the political regions of the province. They aren't necessarily going to be riding by riding profiles, but more "communities of interest", so we can look at historical voting trends.

Today, I would like to analyze the western part of Durham Region, ie. the town of Ajax and the City of Pickering. Currently this area is split between the ridings of Ajax--Pickering and Pickering--Scarborough East.

This region saw about an 8% swing from the Liberals to the Tories in the 2011 federal election. That was good enough to turn both seats Conservative from Liberal. Provincially both seats are held by the Liberals, and are moderately safe. However, a similar provincial swing could turn these seats Tory as well.

This region was first represented by the riding of Ontario South, which also included Whitby and Oshawa. Ajax did not exist at the time, its founding occurring some 80 years later within the Township of Pickering. So up until Ajax's incorporation in 1955, we'll be following the history of the Township of Pickering.

1) T.N. Gibbs (1867-1874)
2) Malcolm Cameron (1874-1876)
3) T.N. Gibbs (1876-1878)
4) F.W. Glen (1878-1882) 

In 1882, the riding of Ontario West is created, and it includes Pickering as well as Whitchurch, Stouffville, Uxbridge and Newmarket. 


5) Geo. Wheler (1882-1884) 
6) J.D. Edgar (1884-1899)
7) I.J. Gould (1900-1904)

In 1903, Ontario West is dissolved and once again Pickering falls into Ontario West riding. 

8) Peter Christie (1904-1908) 
9) F.L. Fowke (1908-1911)
10) Wm. Smith (1911-1921)
11) L.O. Clifford (1921-1925)

In 1924, the riding is dissolved, but the new Ontario riding has very similar boundaries.

12) T.E. Kaiser (1925-1930)     
13) W.H. Moore (1930-1945) 
14) W.E.N. Sinclair (1945-1947)
15) A.H. Williams (1948-1949) 
16) W.C. Thomson (1949-1951) 
17) Michl. Starr (1952-1968) 
18) N.A. Cafik (1968-1979) 
19) T.S. Fennell (1979-1988) 
20) R.J. Soetens (1988-1993)
21) D.P. McTeague (1993-1997) 

At this point, this region would be sprawling suburbia. The combined population of both Pickering and Ajax would be too much for one riding. The new Town of Ajax was split up along Kingston Road. The area north of Kingston road would be in the riding of Pickering--Ajax--Uxbridge, while south of Kingston Road would be in the riding of Whitby--Ajax. For this study, we'll take a look at the former as it made up most of the riding. McTeauge would continue to represent the area until the next redistribution in 2003. At this point, McTeauge would run in the new riding of Pickering--Scarborough East. While the rest of the area would be in the riding of Ajax--Pickering. Mark Holland would represent the ladder. Both MPs would lose in 2011. McTeague lost to Coneliu Chisu while Holland lost to C.A. Alexander.

In summary, the area has gone between the Tories and the Liberals often history. It even voted for the CCF in the 40s when the riding included Oshawa. 

The combined population of both Pickering and Ajax in the 2006 census was 180,000. It will likely be over 200,000 come the next census. Both municipalities have roughly the same population, and are growing quickly. They may both have enough people come redistribution to be separate ridings. Having a riding represent both Scarborough and Pickering is quite awkward, and I would hope they rectify that situation. 

Provincial history
For future reference, I don't have a lot of information about where ridings were before the 1970s at this point. So, we'll have to look at more recent information. Both Pickering and Ajax were in the riding of Durham West from 1975 to 2003. The area has elected MPPs from all three parties:

* C.M. Godfrey (1975-1977)
* G.L. Ashe (1977-1987)
* N.J. Stoner (1987-1990) 
* J.P. Wiseman (1990-1995) 
* Janet Ecker (1995-1999) 

In 1999, the ridings in Ontario were redrawn to match their federal counterparts. Ecker continued to represent Pickering--Ajax--Uxbridge until losing in 2003 to Wayne Arthurs who has represented the Scarborough--Pickering East riding since 2007 after representing Pickering--Ajax--Uxbridge. Ajax--Pickering has been represented by Joe Dickson since 2007. 

Political geography (2008 election)
Since we don't have the poll by poll numbers for the '11 federal election, we can only look at the '08 numbers. The Liberals pretty much dominated the region in this election. Their strongest numbers came in urban Pickering. The Tories meanwhile had their strongest numbers in western Ajax and of course in rural Pickering.  


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