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.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 30 Federal by-election profiles: Trinity--Spadina

Location of Trinity-Spadina in Toronto
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 Trinity—Spadina.

Trinity—Spadina is an urban riding covering the western half of Downtown Toronto, plus adjacent areas like The Annex, Little Italy, Trinity-Bellwoods and the Toronto Islands. Trinity—Spadina has been vacant since March, when its MP – New Democrat Olivia Chow – resigned to run for mayor of Toronto. Chow, the widow of former NDP leader Jack Layton represented the riding since 2006, when she defeated the incumbent Liberal MP, Tony Ianno.


Trinity—Spadina is located on Toronto's waterfront, taking in part of the city's downtown. It includes the Toronto Islands, and runs from Lake Ontario in the south the CPR railway north of Dupont Street in the north. The northern half of the riding extends from Ossington Avenue in the west to Avenue Road in the east. Below College Street, Yonge Street forms the eastern border, while the western border follows Ossington until Dundas Street, then Dovercourt Road, the CNR, Dufferin Street, the Gardiner Expressway and then Spencer Avenue to the lakefront.

The riding covers many of Toronto's famous neighbourhoods, like The Annex, Little Italy, Trinity-Bellwoods, Chinatown, Koreatown, the Fashion District, the Entertainment District, Kensington Market, Bay Street, the University of Toronto, and the booming Harbourfront area, home to many of the city's new condo developments. The riding is home to many famous Toronto landmarks, like the CNE, the CN Tower, the Rogers Centre (formerly Skydome), Nathan Phillips Square, the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Air Canada Centre, For York, Ontario Place, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the list goes on and on.

The riding is very densely populated, and is indeed the most populated of Toronto's ridings. The Lakefront area and the Bay Street corridor are especially densely populated, being home to several new condominium developments (which have caused the riding to pass Scarborough—Rouge River as the most populated in Toronto since the 2006 Census). Since 2001, there have been more dwellings built in the riding (over 25000) than existing dwellings built before 1960, despite the riding covering some of the oldest parts of the city.

The least dense part of the riding is the Toronto Islands, which only have 657 people. Other main non-residential areas in the riding are the University of Toronto, the CNE Grounds and Trinity-Bellwoods Park.


Trinity—Spadina is an extremely diverse riding. Whites make up a majority of the population at 62%, while there is also a significant Chinese population (16%). South Asians make up 5% of the population and Blacks make up 4%. 61% of the riding has English as its mother tongue. Chinese is next at 13%, while there is also a significant Portuguese population, at 4%. The riding has an almost equal number of Christians and non religious (43%). Over half of the Christian population (24% of the total) is Catholic. There is also a significant Muslim (4%), Jewish (4%) and Buddhist (3%) population. The riding's median income is $35,000, while the median household income is $61,000. By some measures, the riding is the most wealthy riding in Canada that the NDP won in 2011 (measured by average household income in 2005).
Most common mother tongue after English

After English, Chinese is the most common mother tongue in most parts of the riding. The area surrounding Dundas Street (between College and Queen, east of Trinity-Bellwoods Park) has an especially large Chinese population. Not surprisingly, the most Chinese Census Tracts surround Toronto's Chinatown neighbourhood on Spadina Street. The west-central part of the riding has a high Portuguese-speaking population, as that region is adjacent to Toronto's “Little Portugal” neighbourhood in neighbouring Davenport riding. Interestingly, Chinese is still the dominant non-English language in Little Italy, but Italian wins the day as the largest non-English language in the Seaton Village neighbourhood and in part of Palmerston, which is right next to Little Italy. On the Toronto Islands, German is the largest mother tongue language after English, but it's still a very low number.


Trinity—Spadina has existed since the 1988 election, when the riding of Spadina grew, taking in the eastern half of the riding of Trinity, and adding in the southeast corner of Parkdale—High Park. The western half of Trinity was added to the riding of Davenport. Since then, the riding has floated between the NDP and the Liberals. Its first election in 1988 featured Spadina MP Dan Heap (NDP) against businessman and Liberal political organizer Tony Ianno. Heap beat Ianno by less than 500 votes. Heap did not run again for re-election in 1993, and Ianno won the seat easily in that Liberal-wave election by nearly 10000 votes. The NDP's Winnie Ng finished second with just 27%. The 1993 election would be the best showing for the Liberal's in the riding's history, and it would be the only time the party has won a majority (51%) in the riding. In 1997, Ianno faced some stiff competition from Metro Toronto councillor Olivia Chow, running for the NDP. Ianno beat Chow by less than 2000 votes. Ianno was re-elected in 2000 by a more comfortable margin, defeating journalist Michael Valpy of the NDP by over 4000 votes. In 2004, Ianno and Chow faced off again in another close election. By this point, Chow's husband, Jack Layton was leader of the NDP. The race was very close, but Ianno held on to beat Chow by 800 votes. Ianno and Chow faced off once again in 2006, but this time Chow was victorious. Chow defeated Ianno by nearly 3700 votes. In 2008, Ianno's wife, Christine Innes ran for the Liberals against Chow. Innes ate into Chow's margin slightly, losing to her by 3500 votes. Innes and Chow ran against each other again in 2011, but this time Chow won in a landslide, winning by over 20000 votes. Chow won 55% of the vote, which is the highest vote share the NDP has ever won in the riding. Consequently, Innes' 23% was the Liberal's worst showing ever.

The Tories have never been a factor in Trinity—Spadina, since its creation. Their best showing was in 1988, when accountant Joe Pimentel won 21% of the vote. Their next highest showing was in 2011 when business owner Gin Siow won 17%. The Green Party's best result was in 2008 when arts educator Stephen La Frenie won 9% of the vote.

Including Trinity—Spadina's predecessor riding of Spadina, the NDP and Liberals have traded places for first and second in this riding since 1979. The NDP first won the riding when Heap won a by-election in 1981. The Tories last won the seat in 1958, and were not competitive in the riding after 1962.


West Toronto

Most of today's Trinity—Spadina was in this riding from Confederation until 1904. During this time, it consisted of Toronto's historic St. Andrew's, St. George's and St. Patrick's Wards. It also consisted of St. John's Ward from 1867 to 1872. It was represented by two members from 1896 to 1904.

- R.A. Harrison, Cons. (1867-1872)
- J.W. Crawford, Cons. (1872)
- Thos. Moss, Liberal (1872-1875)
- J.B. Robinson, Cons. (1875-1880)
- Jas. Beaty, Jr., Cons. (1880-1887)
- F.C. Denison, Cons. (1887-1896)
- E.B. Osler, Cons. (1896-1904)
- E.F. Clarke, Cons. (1896-1904)

Toronto Centre

In 1903, what is now Trinity—Spadina covered several downtown ridings, namely Toronto Centre, Toronto South, Toronto North and Toronto West. Toronto Centre covered a rectangle, bordered by College Street and Carlton Street on the north, Sherbourne Street on the east, Queen Street on the south and Palmerston Avenue on the west. Toronto North was located north of College/Carlton, Toronto South was located south of Queen while Toronto West was located west of Palmerston. Almost all of Toronto Centre was located in today's Trinity—Spadina.

- E.F. Clarke, Cons. (1904-1905) continued
- E.J. Bristol, Cons. (1905-1917)

Toronto West

In the 1914 redistribution, Toronto Centre and Toronto West moved eastward to the point where Toronto West made up most of what is now Trinity—Spadia. Toronto West was bordered on the north by Bloor Street, on the east by Spadina Avenue, on the south by Queen Street and on the west by Dovercourt Road.

- H.C. Hocken, Cons (1917-1925)

Toronto West Centre

In the 1924 redistribution, what is now Trinity—Spadina was mostly divided into two ridings, Toronto West Centre and Toronto South. Toronto West Centre was a rectangular riding bounded by Bloor Street, Dovercourt Road, Dundas Street and Avenue Road / University Avenue. Toronto South was located south of Dundas between Jarvis Street and Atlantic Avenue. Almost all of Toronto West Centre was in what is today's Trinity—Spadina.

- H.C. Hocken, Cons. (1925-1930) continued
- S. Factor, Liberal (1930-1935)


Spadina evolved from a narrow strip of the city surrounding Spadina Road, to a much wider riding by the time it was abolished in 1988.

From 1935 to 1968, the riding was a narrow strip. Its southern base at the lakefront ran from John Street in the east to Bathurst Street in the west. The riding extended northward to the then-city limits. Its eastern border followed John Street to Queen Street to Beverly Street to College Street to St. George Street to Dupont Street to Davenport Road. Its western border followed Bathurst to Dundas Street to Grace Street to Bloor Street to Christie Street to St. Clair Avenue to Humewood Drive.

In the 1966 redistribution, the riding was transformed from a narrow strip to a more compact riding, extending only as far as Bloor on the north, Yonge Street on the east, and a line following Grace Street to College Street to Dovercourt Road on the west. In 1976, the riding's northern boundary was moved up to the CPR, while the western border was moved to follow Grace Street/Gorevale Avenue as far south as Queen Street then along Queen to Niagara Street to Bathurst Street.

- S. Factor, Liberal (1935-1945) continued
- D.A. Croll, Liberal (1945-1955)
- C.E. Rea, Prog. Cons. (1955-1962)
- S.P. Ryan, Liberal (1962-1969), Ind. (1969-1970), Prog. Cons. (1970-1972)
- P.A. Stollery, Liberal (1972-1981)
- D.J.M. Heap, N.D.P. (1981-1988)


In 1988, the neighbouring riding of Trinity was split in two, with part of the riding being added to Davenport, and part being added to Spadina, forming the riding of "Trinity—Spadina"

From 1988 to 1997, Trinity—Spadina ran from Avenue Road / University Avenue in the east to a line following Ossington Avenue, Bloor Street and Dovercourt Road in the west. It ran from the lakefront in the south to the CPR in the north. In 1997, the boundary was altered slightly in the northwest, following Dovercourt all the way to the CPR. The riding adopted its current borders in 2004.

- D.J.M. Heap, N.D.P. (1988-1993) continued
- A. Ianno, Liberal (1993-2006)
- Ms. Olivia Chow, N.D.P. (2006-2014)


Following the redistribution which will come into effect in next year's election, Trinity—Spadina will be dissolved, and split into two new ridings: University—Rosedale and Spadina—Fort York. The area north of Dundas Street will become the new riding of Spadina—Fort York, the area south of Dundas and west of a line following Bay Street and Front Street will be transferred to the new riding of University—Rosedale while the area east of Bay Street and north of Front will join the existing riding of Toronto Centre.

In addition to the area of Trinity—Spadina north of Dundas becoming University—Rosedale, University—Rosedale will also add in the wealthy neighbourhoods of Rosedale and Moore Park from Toronto Centre into the riding. Spadina—Fort York will add the part of Toronto Centre south of The Esplanade / Mill Street. Since both new ridings have a majority of their territory coming from Trinity—Spadina, both new ridings would have been won by the NDP in 2011 with the redistributed numbers. However, both seats are weaker ridings for the NDP. The NDP won 44% of the vote in University—Rosedale (compared to 31% for the Liberals) while the NDP won 50% of the vote in Spadina—Fort York to the Liberal's 24%. Both new ridings will contain wealthy neighbourhoods which could hurt the NDP's chances in either riding.

Political geography

Results of the 2011 federal election by polling division

In the 2011 election, Olivia Chow won almost every polling division in the riding. She also won every single neighbourhood. Her best neighbourhood was the NDP stronghold of Toronto Islands where she won a massive 85% of the vote. However, Toronto Islands only represents one polling division. The next best neighbourhood for Chow was Kensington Market, where she won two thirds of the vote (67%). Chow's worst neighbourhood was the Entertainment District, where she won 41% of the vote (still enough to “win” it). The Entertainment District is quickly being transformed by a number of condominiums which are less favourable to the NDP. For the Liberals, their strongest neighbourhood in 2011 was the affluent and trendy The Annex neighbourhood, where they were able to win three polls and 26% of the vote. For the Tories, their strongest neighbourhood was the Harbourfront, where they won 30% of the vote. Harbourfront – much like the Entertainment District – is full of brand new condos, which attract a wealthier, less NDP-friendly crowd.

In other recent elections, the Liberals have tended to do well in the southern part of the riding (south of Queen Street and east of University Avenue – where most of the riding's condos are. The Liberals are also historically strong in the eastern half of The Annex and in Little Italy. Meanwhile, the NDP strength in the riding has tended to be the north central area: Seaton Village, Harbord Village, Palmerston and the western part of The Annex (in addition to the Toronto Islands).

In the provincial election held just two weeks ago, the riding saw a huge swing away from the NDP – which had held the riding – to the Liberals, who had picked it up for the first time since 1987. The political geography of the riding saw a major shift in the provincial election. Toronto Islands was still the best area for the NDP, but on top of that, the NDP only won three other neighbourhoods: Christie Pits, and Bickford Park in the northwest of the riding and Bathurst Quay, which is the area across from Toronto Islands. Both Christie Pits and Bickford Park were Liberal neighbourhoods in the past, so the fact that the two areas were one of the few parts of the riding to go NDP is an interesting development. For the Liberals, their strongest area was the Harbourfront, and also The Annex. Even the western half of The Annex saw strong numbers for the Liberals, signifying that the whole neighbourhood is quickly trending Liberal (most likely due to rapid gentrification). (Note: a thank you to “King of Kensington” at the U.S. Election Atlas Forum for compiling the provincial neighbourhood results).

2011 federal election results by neighbourhood

Strongest polls (2011, federal):

NDP: Poll #181 (85%) - This poll covers the entirety of the Toronto Islands. One of the few ways to get to the Islands is by going to the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. Quite fitting for the neighbourhood, which is also a designated car-free zone.
Liberals: Poll #477 (42%) - This poll corresponds to the “One Bedford at Bloor” Condominium (1 Bedford Rd) in the Annex. This is a brand new condo at the corner of Bedford Rd and Bloor. It advertises itself as an “architectural marvel and truly an address of distinction”.
Conservatives: Poll #401 (59%) - This poll corresponds to the Prince Arthur Condominiums at 38 Avenue Road in The Annex. These condos are advertised as “Condominium Mansions” and “Toronto's haute-est address”. One can only imagine how wealthy the people who live this “architectural icon”.

Weakest polls (2011, federal):

NDP: Poll #401 (8%) - Not too many NDP supporters at the wealthy Prince Arthur Condos.
Liberals: Poll #181 (3%) - The shear strength of the NDP on the Toronto Islands factors into why the Liberals did so poorly there.
Conservatives: Poll #54-1 (0%) - This poll covers a few students residences at the University of Toronto. There were only 19 voters, but not a single one of them voted Conservative.

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

2008-2011 swing

The 2011 election saw a massive swing towards the NDP from the Liberals, measuring at 13%. This was a huge shift, compared to most federal elections in the 2000s that saw a very polarized electorate in the riding, with small single-digit swings from election to election. This swing is contrary to how the riding is trending provincially. Every election since 1999 has seen a swing to the Liberals from the NDP, until the Liberals finally won it in 2014. Without the popular Olivia Chow on the ballot, this trend could be duplicated in the federal riding as well.

We can see from the swing map, that almost the entire riding swung to the NDP from the Liberals in the 2011 federal election. Only a few isolated polls (mostly condos) saw pro-Liberal swings. However, the Annex saw a weaker pro-NDP swing than most of the riding, an indicator of its rapid gentrification.


Looking to continue the NDP's legacy in the riding is their candidate, Joe Cressy. Cressy is an activist who just served as senior advisor at the Stephen Lewis Foundation, involving fighting AIDS in Africa. Cressy looked poised to keep the riding orange until the Liberals announced the surprise candidacy of popular left wing city councillor Adam Vaughan. Adam Vaughan, who has been an outspoken critic of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, represents Ward 20 on city council, a ward that had previously been represented by Olivia Chow (ward 20 covers the eastern half of Trinity—Spadina – or the “Spadina” portion – if you will). The Conservatives are running Benjamin Sharma, a Conservative activist of Korean and Nepealese descent. The Greens are running Camille Labchuk, the daughter of former PEI Green Party leader Sharon Labchuck. The younger Labhcuk is a lawyer who previously ran for the Greens in the riding of Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe in 2006.

If polls are to be believed, then it looks like this race is Adam Vaughan's to lose. The most recent poll of the riding conducted by Forum Research in May showed Vaughan had a 54%-31% lead over Cressy. Sharma was at 13%, and the Green party candidate was at 2%. The result would be a huge blow for the NDP, but would be on par with the huge swing seen in the riding in the provincial election. The candidacy of Adam Vaughan was a huge coup for the Liberals though, who probably would not be able to win the seat without him. In the provincial election, the Liberals won the seat with a 46%-31% margin with a lesser-known candidate (Han Dong). If the Forum poll it to be believed, it appears the NDP has a floor of about 31%, and that Vaughan's popularity is worth about 8% more than Dong. This seems to be an accurate assertion – in my opinion – so there is no reason for me to not believe the poll. However, the poll was conducted before the provincial election campaign, and a lot could have changed until now. All things considered – given the result of the provincial election and the candidacy of Adam Vaughan – I do not believe the NDP can win the by-election.

Friday, June 20, 2014

June 30 Federal by-election profiles: Scarborough--Agincourt

Location of Scarborough--Agincourt in Toronto
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 Scarborough—Agincourt.

Scarborough—Agincourt is a suburban riding located in the northwest corner of the former city of Scarborough in the east end of Toronto. It has been vacant since its long-time MP Jim Karygiannis resigned in April to run for city council in Toronto. Karygiannis – a Liberal – has held the seat since the riding was created in 1988.



Scarborough—Agincourt is shaped like a fat “L”, its northern border being formed by Toronto's northern city limits (Steeles Ave), its western border being Victoria Park Avenue (Scarborough's former western limit), its southern border being the 401, and its eastern border being a line following (from north to south) Midland Avenue, Finch Avenue and Brimley Road. The riding covers four main neighbourhoods: Steeles, L'Amoureaux, Tam O'Shanter – Sullivan and part of its namesake, Agincourt. Agincourt itself was once a small village located at the corner of Midland Avenue and Sheppard Avenue.

For a suburban riding, Scarborough—Agincourt is quite densely populated, as it is home to many apartment, condominium and retirement complexes. Most of the riding is covered in suburban subdivisions built in the 1960s and 1970s. The only main non-residential areas are industrial areas in the northwest and northeast corners of the riding, and a number of parks and parkland, the largest being the L'Amoureaux Sports Complex and the Tam O'Shanter Golf Club.



The riding is notable as being one of the most Chinese ridings in Canada. In fact, it is the second most Chinese riding in the country and the most Chinese riding in Ontario. Nearly half (47%) of its residents are Chinese, and just one in five (21%) are White. The riding also has a large South Asian population (14%) and Black population (5%). Chinese is also the first language of a plurality of inhabitants. 42% of residents have a Chinese language as their mother tongue, while only a third (33%) of inhabitants have English as their first language. Tamil is the largest South Asian language, with 5% of residents having that language as their mother tongue. 43% of the riding is Christian, with Catholics and “Other Christians” making up most of that population. There are also significant numbers of Hindus (8%), Muslims (6%) and Buddhists (6%). 37% of the riding has no religion. The riding is one of the poorer ridings in the country. The median income in the riding is $21,000 while the median household income is $55,000.

Plurality racial group by Census Tract
Chinese is the plurality race in most of the riding, except for the southwestern corner (the neighbourhoods of Sullivan, Corinthian and Bridlewood) where Whites form the plurality. Only in one census Tract do Whites form the majority of the population. Chinese is the majority race in the north (Steeles) and in the east (Agincourt) part of the riding. In one census tract, Chinese is the race of 100% of the population (this area only consists of a Chinese long term care facility).



Scarborough—Agincourt was created in the 1987 redistribution when its massively over populated predecessor riding of York—Scarborough was divided into two ridings (Scarborough—Agincourt and Scarborough—Rouge River). Part of York—Scarborough was also carved into the then-new riding of Don Valley North. Its first election in 1988 featured Liberal candidate Jim Karygiannis – a Greek immigrant who had previously run for the Liberals in the 1987 provincial election – against W. Paul McCrossan, the Progressive Conservative incumbent MP for York—Scarborough. The 1988 election would be the closest Karygiannis would come to losing, as he only beat McCrossan by 858 votes. Karygiannis would win with large majorities in every subsequent election until 2011, where he beat his Conservative challenger, Harry Tsai by 4500 votes and a 45% vote share. Some of Karygiannis' victories were quite massive. His biggest electoral win was in 2000, when he won 70% of the vote, defeating his next best rival, Canadian Alliance candidate Andrew Faust by 22,000 votes.

The history of what is now Scarborough—Agincourt follows the history of the Township of Scarborough until post World War II suburbanization fragmented the township (later the city of Scarborough) into multiple ridings. For much of its history, Scarborough was fairly rural, and was grouped with neigbouring rural townships.


York East (1867-1904)

From Confederation until 1904, Scarborough was lumped with Markham and East York into the riding of York East.

- Jas. Metcalfe, Liberal (1867-1878)
- A. Boultbee, Cons. (1878-1882)
- Hon. A. Mackenzie, Liberal (1882-1892)
- W.F. Maclean, Ind. Cons. (1892-1904)

York Centre (1904-1911)

In 1904, Scarborough was moved into York Centre, a horseshoe-shaped riding encircling Toronto, containing Scarborough, Markham, Vaughan and Etobicoke.

- A. Campbell, Liberal (1904-1907)
- P.D. McLean, Liberal (1907-1908)
- T.G. Wallace, Cons. (1908-1917)

York East (1917-1925)

As the townships around Toronto became more populous, the ridings in the area became numerous. In 1917, Scarborough was joined with part of the east end of Toronto to become the riding of York East.

- Thos. Foster, Unionist (1917-1921)
- J.H. Harris, Cons. (1921-1925)

York South (1925-1935)

In 1925, Scarborough joined the riding of York South, which saw a dramatic boundary change, but retained its MP. The riding contained Scarborough and East York.

- W.F. Maclean, Ind. Cons. (1925-1926) 2nd time
- R.H. McGregor, Cons. (1926-1935)

York East (1935-1953)

In 1935, Scarborough was moved into the new riding of York East, which also contained Markham and East York.

- R.H. McGregor, Prog. Cons. (1935-1953) continued

York—Scarborough (1953 -1988)

In 1953, York—Scarborough was created, initially consisting of the east half of North York, most of Scarborough and part of Markham. In 1966, it shrunk to just contain the northwest quarter of Scarborough and part of North York. In 1976, the riding grew larger, taking in all of the northern half of Scarborough and part of North York. The southern boundary was shifted northward to balance the population. However, the riding remained hugely overpopulated, with 80,000 people casting ballots in in 1978. The riding continued to grow, and in its last election in 1984, 100,000 people had voted. During its existence, the riding was a perfect bellwether, voting for the party that formed government in every election (a by-election in 1978 notwithstanding).

- F.A. Enfield, Liberal (1953-1957)
- F.C. McGee, Prog. Cons. (1957-1963)
- M.J. Moreau, Liberal (1963-1965)
- R.D.G. Stanbury, Liberal (1965-1978)
- W.P.J. McCrossan, Prog. Cons. (1978-1980)
- P.J. Cosgrove, Liberal (1980-1984)
- W.P.J. McCrossan, Prog. Cons. (1984-1988) 2nd time

Scarborough—Agincourt (1988-present)

Since York—Scarborough had become too large, it divided into two ridings. The western part of the riding became Scarborough—Agincourt. From 1988 to 2000, the riding was rectangular in shaped, being bounded by Steeles Avenue, the CNR, Ellesmere Road and Victoria Park Avenue. In 2004, its southern and eastern boundaries were altered to its present state.

- Jas. Karygianis, Liberal (1988-2014)



Following the redistribution which will come into effect in next year's election, Scarborough—Agincourt's boundaries will only be altered slightly. The part of the riding east of Midland Avenue will be transferred to the new riding of Scarborough North. The result makes the riding very slightly more Liberal and less Conservative.

Political geography


2011 election results by polling division
In the 2011 election, Karygiannis won most of the riding easily. However, a number of apartment complexes in the Tam O'Shanter neighbourhood went so overwhelmingly Conservative, that the Tory candidate ended up winning the neighbourhood by a thin margin (hard to tell from just looking at the map). The area just south of Tam O'Shanter Golf Club has regularly been the most (or only) Conservative part of the riding in recent elections. This area includes the “Shepherd Village Christian Community”, a Pentecostal seniors' apartment complex. A poll covering this complex even voted for the Canadian Alliance in 2000. In the 2011 federal election, the Whiter parts of the riding - in the southwest - were slightly more Conservative than the rest of the riding. However, in the provincial election held last week, this area was more Liberal than the rest of the riding. Could it be that the Chinese community is trending conservative like it is in other parts of the country? Generally though, despite the large ethnic polarity in the riding's demographics, it does not show up much in voting patterns. The strongest neighbourhood for the Liberals in 2011 was L'Amoureux, but the 47% of the vote they won there was not much different from any other neighbourhood. The NDP is not much of a factor in the riding. They just won one poll (and tied another) in 2011, both polls in those apartment complexes south of the Tam O'Shanter Golf Club.

2011 federal election results by neighbourhood

Strongest polls (2011):

Liberals: Poll #430 (66%) - This poll corresponds to one of the Royalcrest Condominiums at 45 Huntingdale Blvd in L'Amoureaux. The Liberals won all three of the Royalcrest Condos, but 45 Huntingdale was their best.

Conservatives: Poll #424 (75%)- This poll corresponds to one of the Shepherd Village Christian Retirement buildings on Bonis Avenue in Tam O'Shanter. No surprise that a Christian retirement community would be strongly conservative.

NDP: Poll #449 (39%) - This poll corresponds to one of the apartments on Carabob Court, also in Tam O'Shanter. This was the only poll the NDP won in the riding, but the NDP tied in another poll (#100) covering a Carabob Court apartment.

Weakest polls (2011):

Liberals: Poll #424 & #429 (17%) - Both of these polls cover the Shepherd Village Christian Retirement building. Enough said.

Conservatives: Poll #61 (12%) - This poll covers the Finch Birchmount Apartments (2821 Birchmount Rd), which is operated by Toronto Community Housing in L'Amoureaux, so it is basically a social housing project. Understandable why the Conservatives wouldn't do well in such a place.

NDP: Poll #424 (7%) - One of the Sheppherd Village Christian Retirement buildings.

2008 - 2011 swing


Two party (Liberal vs. Conservative) swing (2008-2011) by polling division
The 2011 election saw a 8.01% swing from the Liberals to the Conservatives in the riding. The stronger swing to the Conservatives came in the Tam O'Shanter area and in the northwest part of the riding. Interestingly, the White areas of the riding (in the southwest) saw less of a swing. But overall, there isn't much to say in terms of finding demographic patterns in the swing data. Most of the riding swung towards the Conservatives, while only a few isolated polls swung to the Liberals.



The Liberals are hoping to retain this riding, and are running a candidate of Chinese ancestry in a hope to win the seat. They are running Willowdale lawyer Arnold Chan. If he wins, he would be the riding's first MP of Chinese background. The Conservatives missed the boat by not running someone of Chinese origin. They are running local teacher Trevor Ellis. Like the Liberals, the NDP is also running a lawyer of Chinese ancestry – Elizabeth Long – who is an immigrant from Wuhan, China. The Greens are running Shahbaz Mir.

In the lead up to the last federal election, the Tories did a great job in reaching out to minority communities – especially the Chinese community – by appealing to their social conservatism. With Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's recent hardline pro-choice stance on abortion, now would have been a great opportunity for the Conservatives to pick up this riding. It could still go Conservative though, as the Chinese community has had no problems re-electing Jim Karygiannis over and over again despite his lack of Chinese ancestry. But it makes it that much harder for the Tories by not running a Chinese candidate.

A Forum Research poll conducted in mid-May showed that the race will be a lot closer than one might expect. It showed that Chan had just an 8-point lead over Ellis (46-38). The NDP's Elizabeth Long was at 9% and the Greens at 2%. I would not be surprised if the poll is close to the actual election results. The riding's strong Liberal history both provincially and federally cannot be ignored here, and with the Liberals doing well in Canada-wide polling, it stands to reason they will likely win once again on by-election night. However, the real wild card will be how much the Tories can successfully tap into the Chinese vote.  We shall see.