Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Super Thursday" by-elections in Ontario

Signs in Ottawa South
Five by-elections go today in Ontario in rookie Premier Kathleen Wynne’s first electoral test since being chosen as Liberal leader in February. All five by-elections were caused as the result of Liberal resignations, which means the one-seat minority government that Wynne leads will not turn into a majority like it could have in the Kitchener-Waterloo by-election last September. In fact, what is more likely to happen is Wynne’s government will be weakened even more, as she is most likely going to lose at least one riding, and could even lose all of them!
Locations of the 5 by-elections

The by-elections are being held in five mostly urban ridings, across southern Ontario, all previously held by high profile Liberals: Ottawa South (caused by the resignation of former Premier Dalton McGuinty), Scarborough-Guildwood (caused by the resignation of former Minister of Consumer Services Margarett Best), Etobicoke-Lakeshore (caused by the resignation of Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Laurel Broten), London West (caused by the resignation of former Minister of Energy Chris Betley) and Windsor-Tecumseh (caused by the resignation of former Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan). One can only wonder why the huge departure of so many high ranking Liberals. Is it not wanting to deal with a minority legislature, or is it something to do with Wynne?

All five seats will be exciting to watch, because all five have the possibility of being lost by the Liberals. Of the five, three are held by non-Liberal MPs in the federal House of Commons. Only Ottawa South (Dalton’s brother, David McGuinty) and Scarborough-Guildwood (John McKay) are held by Liberals. Current polling suggests that the Liberals lead in only Scarborough-Guildwood, but even that riding is no sure bet, as the Tories and NDP are close behind.

Speaking of polls, the most recent (July 30/31) Forum Research polls in each riding show the following:

Ottawa South: PC: 52%; Lib: 36%; NDP: 9%; Grn: 3%
Scarborough-Guildwood: Lib: 38%; PC: 31%; NDP: 27%; Grn: 3%
Etobicoke-Lakeshore: PC: 47%; Lib: 43%; NDP: 7%; Grn: 3%
London West: PC: 38%; NDP: 36%; Lib: 15%; Grn: 6%; Other: 5%
Windsor-Tecumseh: NDP: 52%; PC: 28%; Lib: 12%; Grn: 6%

And polls done by Corporate Research (July 30):

Ottawa South: PC: 42%; Lib: 35%; NDP: 12%; Grn: 6%
Scarborough-Guildwood: Lib: 37%; PC: 32%; NDP: 24%; Grn: 3%
Etobicoke-Lakeshore: Lib: 43%; PC: 42%; NDP: 11%; Grn: 3%
London West: PC: 33%; NDP: 30%; Lib: 19%; Grn: 8%; Fdm: 9%
Windsor-Tecumseh: NDP: 52%; PC: 22%; Lib: 16%; Grn: 5%

And now, a look at each of the five ridings:

Ottawa South

Ottawa South is my home riding, the one I was born in and the one where I grew up in. I feel I have a special attachment here, and out of all the ridings in the province, I know Ottawa South the best. The riding is located in the south end of the city, and is a combination of post-war suburbs and more recent developments. The riding runs from the Queensway in the north down to the Macdonald-Cartier Airport in the south, and from the Rideau River in the west to Highway 417 in the east. The riding is often considered a “safe Liberal” seat, as it is one of the few ridings that went Liberal in the 2011 federal election. However, the riding is more of a right-Liberal riding, as the Liberals it tends to elect are more right wing. Municipally, the ward that makes up much of the riding- Alta Vista- has mostly elected conservative leaning councillors. The current councillor, Peter Hume, is a Red Tory (moderate conservative). Prior to the late 1980s, the riding actually did vote conservative. In fact, the Ottawa South provincial riding went exclusively conservative from its creation in 1926 until 1987. Although before 1967, the riding was located in central Ottawa, and not where it is today. The riding has been nicknamed “McGuintyland”, as it has been represented by Dalton’s father (Dalton, Sr.) before Dalton Jr. provincially, and it is currently represented by Dalton’s brother federally.

MPPs (following Russell before 1967)

1)      Wm. Craig, Cons. (1867-1874)
2)      A.J. Baker, Cons. (1875-1883)
3)      Honore Robillard, Cons. (1883-1886)
4)      A. Robillard, Liberal (1886-1898)
5)      Onesime Guibord, Liberal (1898-1904)
6)      Damase Racine, Liberal (1905-1921)
7)      Alfred Goulet, Liberal (1921-1923)
8)      Aurelien Belanger, Liberal (1923-1926); Ind-Lib (1926-1929)
9)      C.A. Seguin, Cons. (1929-1934)
10)  Arthur Desrosiers, Liberal (1934-1937)
11)  Romeo Begin, Liberal (1937-1948)
12)  J.D. Nault, Prog. Cons. (1948-1954)
13)  Gordon Lavergne, Prog. Cons. (1954-1963)
14)  A.B.R. Lawrence, Prog. Cons. (1963-1967)
15)  W.I. Haskett, Prog. Cons. (1967-1971)
16)  C.F. Bennett, Prog. Cons. (1971-1987)
17)  D.J.P. McGuinty (Sr.), Liberal (1987-1990)
18)  D.J.P. McGuinty (Jr.), Liberal (1990-2013)

Political geography

2011 poll map
The riding is very static in its voting, with the Liberals regularly getting around 50% of the vote provincially and between 45 and 50% federally in recent elections. This has resulted in fairly static political geography as well. The Liberals usually win almost all areas of the riding, except the far southern end of the riding, which is more “suburban” in nature. Blossom Park, a community in the former city of Gloucester is regularly the most conservative part of the riding, couple with the Uplands area, next to the Airport. The 2011 election saw the Tories won isolated polls outside this area, but nothing concentrated. In past federal election, the Tories have also had strong results in areas like Urbandal Acres (2011), Riverside Park South (2008), and Elmvale Acres (in 2006). While the Liberals tend to do well nearly everywhere in the riding, but their most consistently best area is the Alta Vista area, basically everything included in the old pre-1994 Alta Vista Ward. The Liberals also routinely do well in the ethnically diverse and lower class Heron Gate neighbourhood. This neighbourhood is often the best area for the NDP as well, depending on who the candidate is. The area has a high Somali and Arab population, so candidates from one of those backgrounds tend to do well there, eating into Liberal votes. The NDP did not win any polls in the 2011 provincial election, but won a scattering of polls in the 2011 federal election (mostly in lower class apartments or community housing projects).


The Liberals are running McGuinty’s constituency aid, John Fraser. The Tories are running multinational defence contractor Matt Young, the NDP is running School Board Trustee Bronwyn Funicello and the Greens are running 2011 Glengarry-Prescott-Russell candidate Taylor Howarth.  Fraser has been running on (notably not “away from”) his record as McGuinty’s aide. This has been backfiring for him in the polls. While Ottawa South may be the most McGuinty-friendly riding in the province, it is still not immune from the toxicity of Dalton McGuinty and the recent scandals that have come out (most notably the gas plant scandal). Matt Young is a young, energetic candidate, but has little name recognition. He has been bolstered however by a strong anti-Liberal protest vote which could carry him into Queen’s Park. The NDP is running perhaps their strongest candidate ever, and the strongest possible candidate they could ever hope for in the vice-chair of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. Funicello’s zone covers the Alta Vista Ward which is in the riding, as well as her home Ward of Rideau-Rockcliffe (which is not in the riding). This gives her name recognition in the riding, and while she may hail from Rideau-Rockcliffe, much of her support in past school board elections have come from Alta Vista. Despite her name recognition and star power, Funicello has polled rather low, proving that the NDP will probably never have a chance in Ottawa South.


Scarborough-Guildwood is one of the newer ridings in Scarborough, being formed out of Scarborough East in 2004. It is located in south-central Scarborough, and is named for one of its more notable neighbourhoods, Guildwood. (Guildwood is also the name of the GO Station in the riding). Guildwood is not the only neighbourhood in the riding. It also includes West Hill, Scarborough Village, Woburn, Bendale, Cliffcrest, Eglinton East and Morningside. The riding runs from Bellamy Rd in the west to Highland Creek in the east, and from Lake Ontario in the south to Highway 401 in the north. While the riding may be the Liberal’s best bet to win any seat in the by-elections, it hasn’t always been a safe Liberal seat. If you count Scarborough East as the riding’s predecessor, than the riding has only been Liberal since 2003. Federally, the riding has been Liberal since 1993.


1)      H.P. Crosby, Liberal (1867-1874)
2)      Jn. Lane, Liberal (1874-1879)
3)      G.W. Badgerow, Liberal (1879-1886)
4)      G.B. Smith, Liberal (1886-1894)
5)      Jn. Richardson, Liberal (1894-1905)
6)      Alex. McCowan, Cons. (1905-1913)
7)      G.S. Henry, Cons. (1913-1943)
8)      Ms. A.C. Macphail, CCF (1943-1945)
9)      Jn. Leslie, Prog. Cons. (1945-1948)
10)  Ms. A.C. Macphail, CCF (1948-1951) 2nd time
11)  H.E. Beckett, Prog. Cons. (1951-1955)
12)  Richard Sutton, Prog. Cons. (1955-1963)
13)  L.M. Hodgson, Prog. Cons. (1963-1967)
14)  T.E. Reid, Liberal (1967-1971)
15)  Ms. Margaret Birch, Prog. Cons. (1971-1985)
16)  E.A. Fulton, Liberal (1985-1990)
17)  R.T.S. Frankford, NDP (1990-1995)
18)  S. Gilchrist, Prog. Cons. (1995-2003)
19)  Ms. M.A.V. Chambers, Liberal (2003-2007)
20)  Ms. M.R. Best, Liberal (2007-2013)

Political geography

2011 poll map


Politically speaking, the riding is quite homogenous. Best’s 20 point victory in the 2011 election reduced the Tory candidate to winning just nine polls. None of the polls were concentrated in any one part of the riding. Best’s support wasn’t very concentrated either, except for perhaps in smaller, high-density polls. Federally, the 2011 election in the riding was a very close one, but not one that showed much of a geographical divide in the riding.  One thing that does stand out is that Liberal support in the riding seems to be somewhat concentrated not in any particular neighbourhoods, but along the major thoroughfares of the riding, especially Lawrence Ave. Lawrence Ave is home to many Liberal-voting apartment complexes.  The Conservatives tend to do better away from the major roads, in the more suburban areas. Their best areas have historically have been the west half of the Morningside neighbourhood and the eastern half of the West Hill neighbourhood. The NDP, which won no polls in the riding in the provincial election, won quite a few in the federal election. These were also found in the high-density apartment complexes spread across the riding, but also in parts of Morningside and Scarborough Village. However, the cleavages found in the 2011 federal election were less apparent in the 2011 provincial election.


One thing to know about Scarborough-Guildwood is how diverse it is. Over half the population of the riding is foreign born, and includes a large South Asian, Filipino and West Indian population. The Liberals and Tories both selected minority candidates to reflect the riding’s diversity. The Liberals are running the CEO of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance, Mitzie Hunter. Like Best, Hunter is also a Jamaican immigrant. It should be noted that 10% of the riding comes from either Guyana, Jamaica or Trinidad and Tobago. The Tories are running Sri Lankan immigrant and realtor Ken Kirupa.  The Sri Lankan population in the riding is huge in of itself, numbering 8000 immigrants. While the Liberals and Tories selected candidates with strong ethnic ties, the NDP brought out their own big gun with their candidate, former Toronto city councillor Adam Giambrone. Giambrone represented Davenport on city council, a far cry from Scarborough, but he still brings name recognition to the table, as he had an aborted run for mayor of the city in 2010. Giambrone’s name comes with controversy however, as his 2010 mayoral campaign was cut short due to a sex scandal. The Greens are running Nick Leeson, a local lawyer. If the riding splits on an ethnic divide, it is possible that Giambrone could come up the middle and win. The NDP has little history in the area, having only won it in 1990, although it is riding like this one that the party has to win to form government. The party did win 27% of the vote in the federal election. However, the Liberals, with their recent history in the riding still have the advantage. It should be noted that the South Asian community in the riding is significantly larger than the West Indian, so if an ethnic cleavage occurs, the Tories have the advantage.


Further to the west on the shore of Lake Ontario, is another lakefront riding, Etobicoke-Lakeshore. The riding represents the southern third of the former borough of Etobicke in the southwestern corner of the city. The riding consists of the neigbourhoods of Islington, The Kingsway, Mimico, New Toronto, Alderwood, Eatonville, the Queensway and Long Branch. The riding has the highest Slavic language speaking population in the country. The riding is a Liberal leaning bellwether seat, which was the seat that former federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff held and lost in the 2011 federal election. It has voted Liberal federally most of the time since its creation, except when the Tories have formed majority governments- in 1984, 1988 and 2011. It also went NDP once, in 1972. Provincially the riding has been a bellwether since 1990, having voted for the winning party in every election since then. Before 1990, it has a swing riding between the NDP and Tories.


1)      Thos. Grahame, Cons. (1867-1871)
2)      Peter Patterson, Liberal (1871-1883)
3)      Jn. Gray, Cons. (1883-1886)
4)      J.T. Gilmour, Liberal (1886-1894)
5)      J.W. St. John, Cons. (1894-1898)
6)      W.J. Hill, Liberal (1898-1902)
7)      J.W. St. John, Cons. (1902-1907) 2nd time
8)      F.E. Godfrey, Cons. (1907-1932)
9)      H.I. Price, Cons. (1932-1934)
10)  W.J. Gardhouse, Liberal (1934-1943)
11)  C.H. Millard, CCF (1943-1945)
12)  J.P. Allan, Prog. Cons. (1945-1948)
13)  C.H. Millard, CCF (1948-1951) 2nd time
14)  W.E. Brandon, Prog. Cons. (1951-1956)
15)  H.L. Rowntree, Prog. Cons (1956-1963)
16)  R.A. Eagelson, Prog. Cons. (1963-1967)
17)  P.D. Lawlor, NDP (1967-1981)
18)  A. Kolyn, Prog. Cons. (1981-1985)
19)  Ms. R.A. Grier, NDP (1985-1995)
20)  Morley Kells, Prog. Cons. (1995-2003)
21)  Ms. L.C. Broten, Liberal (2003-2013)

Political geography

2011 poll map

The 2011 provincial election saw Broten win the riding over her the Tories by 22 points. She won in nearly every part of the riding, losing only 15 polls to the Tories. The Tories did win a small cluster of polls in the Kingsway neighbourhood and another cluster in the Queensway area. The best the NDP could do is tie in three polls with 15% of the vote. Despite the NDP’s history in the riding, the demographics have changed so much that they are no longer much of a factor. The 2011 federal election is a better indicator of the riding’s true cleavages, as the Liberals and Tories were much closer, with MP Bernard Trottier defeating Ignatieff by just 5 points. The NDP did will as well, winning 20% of the vote. In the federal election, the Liberals and NDP won the polls along the lakefront, in Mimico and in New Toronto. The Liberals were also quite strong in the cluster of apartments in Islington Village. The Tories dominated much of the rest of the riding, doing particularly well in The Kingsway and in the condominiums along Humber Bay. The Kingsway, north of Bloor has been historically the most Tory friendly neighbourhood in the riding.


The race in Etobicoke-Lakeshore is a 2 horse race between two sitting Toronto city councillors. The Liberals are running local councillor Peter Milczyn, who is the son of Polish immigrants. Despite his Liberal affiliation, Milczyn was a supporter of right wing mayor Rob Ford on city council. His main opponent is Tory candidate Doug Holyday, another city councillor Deputy Mayor of Toronto. Holyday is also a Rob Ford supporter, but unlike Milczyn, does not represent the area on city council. Instead, he represents part of the neighbouring Etobicoke Centre ward. Not to be undone, the NDP has a “star” candidate of their own, in Malaysian immigrant Pak-Cheong “P.C.” Choo, a former School Trustee on the Etobicoke Board of Education. The Greens are running their 2011 candidate Angela Salewsky once again. In Etobicoke, where mayor Rob Ford is still somewhat popular, the fact that two of his allies are running, and both have a chance to win is not a surprise. As mentioned, the area has become much more right wing over the last couple of decades, and what was once an NDP-friendly riding is now an afterthought for the party.

London West

Take a ride on the 401 west for a few hours, and hit our next by-election riding, London West. The riding takes in the western third of the city of London. The riding takes in the western suburban part of the city, but also includes the more urban South London area. Federally, the riding has gone back and forth between the Liberals and Conservatives since its creation in 1968. It has been held Tory Ed Holder since 2008, and before that was held by Liberal Sue Barnes from 1993 to 2008. Provincially the riding is also a swing seat. Since its creation in 1999, it has been represented by Tory Bob Wood (1999-2003) and then Liberal Chris Bentley (2003-2013). Before the 1999 redistribution that made provincial riding boundaries line up with federal riding boundaries, London was divided between North and South (and Central) as opposed to the federal division between West, North Centre and Fanshawe (eastern London). However, much of London West was created out of the previous London South riding, and Bob Wood represented both ridings while in office.


1)      Jn. Carling, Cons. (1867-1872)
2)      W.R. Meredith, Cons. (1872-1894)
3)      T.S. Hobbs, Liberal (1894-1898)
4)      F.B. Leys, Liberal (1898-1902)
5)      Adam Beck, Cons. (1902-1919)
6)      H.A. Stevenson, Labour (1919-1923)
7)      Adam Beck, Cons. (1923-1926) 2nd time
8)      J.C. Wilson, Cons. (1926-1929)
9)      J.P. Moore, Cons. (1929-1934)
10)  A.S. Duncan, Liberal (1934-1943)
11)  W.G. Webster, Prog. Cons. (1943-1948)
12)  C.C. Calder, Liberal (1948-1951)
13)  J.R. Robarts, Prog. Cons. (1951-1955)
14)  G.E. Jackson, Prog. Cons. (1955-1959)
15)  J.H. White, Prog. Cons. (1959-1975)
16)  J.P. Ferris, Liberal (1975-1977)
17)  G.W. Walker, Prog. Cons. (1977-1985)
18)  Mrs. E.J. Smith, Liberal (1985-1990)
19)  David Winninger, NDP (1990-1995)
20)  Rbt. Wood, Prog. Cons. (1995-2003)
21)  C. Bentley, Liberal (2003-2013)

Political geography

2011 poll map


Outgoing MPP Chris Bentley won this seat in 2011 by 16 points, which ensured that he would win most polls in the riding. Despite finishing 2nd, the Tories actually won fewer polls than the NDP. This is because the more urban part of the riding in the south end of London is an NDP-Liberal area, whereas the rest of the riding is a dead zone for the NDP, where the Tories come up 2nd in most polls. The Tories did win a cluster of polls surrounding the London Hunt & Country Club. This was also their strongest area in the 2011 federal election, where they won almost all the suburban polls in the riding. While the Liberals won most of the polls in the suburban part of the riding in the 2011 provincial election, their strongest area was in the more urban part of the riding, in South London. The NDP won a splattering of polls, including a cluster in South London, along the riding’s boundary with London-Fanshawe, a seat the NDP won. In the 2011 federal election, a similar situation occurred where the NDP won more polls than the Liberals, despite the Liberals finishing ahead of the NDP, in 2nd.  The Liberals finished 2nd across the riding, but the NDP won the urban areas while the Tories won the suburban areas of the riding. The Liberals only won a cluster of polls in South London.


The race in London West has developed into a two-candidate race between the Tories and the NDP. The Liberals were supposed to contend here with their star candidate in Ken Coran, President of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation. However, the fact that Coran was out in the Kitchener-Waterloo by-election last year campaigning against the Liberals has put much controversy on his campaign, and it has hurt him badly, pushing him to third place. And the teachers have a place to go in the NDP candidate, Thames Valley District School Board trustee (noticing a trend here?) Peggy Sattler.
The Tories are running their 2011 candidate, London lawyer Ali Chahbar. The Greens are running their 2007 and 2011 candidate, Gary Brown. There is also one other candidate of note, Al Gretzky of the Freedom Party. He is the uncle of Wayne Gretzky, and was also the federal Conservative candidate in this riding in 2006. His name recognition might siphon enough votes off of Chahbar to put the NDP ahead, and might vault Gretzky into fourth place, ahead of the Greens. And, he is running a very strong campaign apparently, and probably makes up almost all of the 5% of “Other” in the in Forum Research poll. The Tories have a lot of history in the riding though, and will likely win the seat. The NDP has little history in the riding, and while are strong in the urban part of the riding, are an afterthought in the western suburbs.


The fifth and final by-election is taking place in the riding of Windsor-Tecumeh. If the Forum Research poll is to be believed, this will be the least exciting race of the five by-elections, as the NDP is expected to easily win the seat. The riding, which takes in the east half of Windsor and the Town of Tecumseh is a safe NDP seat federally as well. The riding begins in the Windsor community of Walkerville in the west, and runs east until the community of St. Clair Beach in Tecumseh. The riding is mostly urban, except for the southern part of Tecumseh, which is rural. Federally, the seat has voted for MP Joe Comartin since 2000, and has gone between the Liberals and NDP in the past before that. Since the provincial riding was created in 1999, it has voted for Liberal Dwight Duncan in every election. However, one of its predecessor ridings, Windsor-Riverside was a safe NDP seat, going NDP every election from 1967 to 1999. However, Dwight Duncan was redistricted in from Windsor-Walkerville, a seat he had held since 1995. He defeated Wayne Lessard, the MPP for Windsor-Riverside in the 1999 election. However, Windsor-Riverside represented more of Windsor-Tecumseh, so for the list of MPPs, I will follow it.


1)      Solomon Wigle, Cons. (1867-1871)
2)      Albert Prince, Liberal (1871-1875)
3)      J.C. Patterson, Cons. (1875-1878)
4)      Solomon White, Cons. (1878-1886)
5)      J.-B.-N.-G. Pacaud, Liberal (1886-1890)
6)      Solomon White, Cons. (1890-1894) 2nd time
7)      W.J. McKee, Liberal (1894-1902)
8)      J.O. Reaume, Liberal (1902-1914)
9)      J.C. Tolmie, Liberal (1914-1923)
10)  F.W. Wilson, Cons. (1923-1934)
11)  J.H. Clark, Liberal (1934-1943)
12)  Geo. Bennett, CCF (1943-1945)
13)  Wm. Griesinger, Prog. Cons. (1945-1959)
14)  M.L. Belanger, Liberal (1959-1964)
15)  I.W. Thrasher, Prog. Cons. (1964-1967)
16)  F.A. Burr, NDP (1967-1977)
17)  D. Cook, NDP (1977-1997)
18)  Wayne Lessard, NDP (1997-1999)
19)  Dwight Duncan, Liberal (1999-2013)

Political geography

2011 poll map

The NDP has been unable to defeat the popular Dwight Duncan in this traditional NDP seat since winning it first in 1999. The NDP’s 10 point loss in 2011 is actually the closest they have been to unseating him. The 2011 race showed a Liberal vs. NDP divide in the riding. The neighbourhood of East Windsor went heavily NDP, while Walkerville was more of a mix. Riverside and Tecumseh on the other hand went for the Liberals. This divide is the opposite of what one would expect, considering the former riding of Windsor-Riverside was NDP, and the former riding of Windsor-Walkerville was Duncan’s riding. The Conservatives were pretty much irrelevant in the 2011 provincial race, but they did win one of the rural polls, in the far south of the riding, south of the community of Maidstone. Federally, the most recent election saw the Liberals as the irrelevant party. The NDP swept the riding, losing only a handful of polls to the Tories, mostly along the waterfront, in the community of St. Clair Beach, newer subdivisions in the east end of Windsor, and a few rural polls in Tecumseh. The NDP’s best areas were again in East Windsor. Going back in time, the division in the riding has usually been between NDP leaning East Windsor and the Conservative or Liberal outlying areas, while Riverside and Walkerville swing back and forth.


The man to beat in this race is the NDP candidate, Windsor city councillor Percy Hatfield, who represents Windsor’s Ward 7 on city council. This ward is in the far eastern end of the city, and includes the neighbourhoods of East Riverside and Forest Glade. This ward isn’t the most NDP friendly in the city, which means that a councillor from the area is sure to help take personal votes with him. For the record, Dwight Duncan won the ward in 2011, but it has gone NDP federally since 2004. If the riding turns into its federal counterpart in terms of how it votes, than we can expect the Tories to come in second, and that is precisely what polls show. The Tories are running automotive consultant Robert de Verteuil. One wouldn’t expect the Tories to run anyone on the labour side of things, but how will a consultant play in a strong union riding? The Liberals are running Jeewin Gill, a husband of a CAW union member, at least. Gill himself is a businessman.  The Greens are running Adam Wright, a student at the University of Windsor.


All bets are off as I expect a wild by-election night. Things are looking so bad for the Liberals, that a “win” for them would be losing just one seat. A loss for the Liberals would be losing anything more than 2 seats. The Tories entered the by-election campaign with low expectations, but there are now high expectations for the party. Going empty handed would be a big loss for the party. A win would have them netting at least two seats, but a true win would have them win three. And for the NDP, a win would be to pick up more than one seat. A loss would be going empty handed, or even just scraping by in Windsor-Tecumseh.

Polls close at 9PM. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter as I comment on the results.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Westside-Kelowna by-election today

Back in May, British Columbians shocked the political world by re-electing the right of centre BC Liberal Party after every poll predicted the N.D.P. would be victorious. This surprise election win, much akin to last year’s Alberta election has cast doubt in the methodology of pollsters- but could also be attributed to a large number of undecideds sticking with the “devil they know” at the last minute. Either way, the Liberals won, and with three more seats than they had won in the previous 2009 election. But one of the seats they did not win- was Liberal leader (and Premier) Christy Clark’s riding of Vancouver-Point Grey. In fact, the City of Vancouver one of the few parts of the province that swung towards the NDP, and Vancouver-Point Grey saw the biggest swing (7.25%) to the NDP out of any riding in the province.

Province wide swing map (2009-2013)

This loss in Vancouver-Point Grey meant that while Christy Clark’s party had won the election, and she would remain Premier, she was left without a seat in the legislature. Canadian Parliamentary tradition dictates that a member of her caucus in a safe seat must step down as soon as possible to allow a by-election to occur, so that the leader can win and then take his or her seat in the Assembly. For the record, I believe the last time this has happened in Canadian history is when former Alberta Premier Don Getty lost his Edmonton seat in the 1989 provincial election, forcing him to run in a by-election in a safe seat 2 months later.

And so the search began for Clark to find a suitable riding to run in. Her choice was Westside-Kelowna, a riding which had been won by Ben Stewart with 58% of the vote on the May 14 election. This was the sixth best riding for the Liberals in the election, only West Vancouver-Capilano (67%), Vancouver-Quilchena (64%), Kootenay East (63%), Surrey-Cloverdale (59%) and Peace River North (59%) were better for the Liberals.

The riding has voted for right-of-centre parties for much of its history. Following is a list of MLAs for the area since BC joined confederation. The area was represented by three members from 1871 to 1894 and by two members from 1986 to 1991.

Rbt. Smith, Independent (1871-1878)
Jas. Robinson, Independent (1871-1875)
C.A. Semlin, Independent (1871-1875)
F.G. Vernon, Reform caucus (1875-1878), Government (1878-1882)
J.A. Mara, Reform caucus (1875-1878), Government (1878-1886)
Preston Bennett, Government (1878-1882)
C.A. Semlin, Independent (1882-1886), Opposition (1886-1894) 2nd time
G.B. Martin, Opposition (1882-1886), Government (1886-1894)
F.G. Vernon, Government (1886-1894) 2nd time
Donald Graham, Opposition (1894-1898)
Price Ellison, Government (1898-1903), Conservative (1903-1916)
J.W. Jones, Conservative (1916-1933)
J.A. Harris, Liberal (1933-1937)
C.R. Bull, Liberal (1937-1941)
W.A.C. Bennett, Conservative (1941-1945), Coalition (1945-1952), Social Credit (1952-1975)
W.R. Bennett, Social Credit (1975-1986)
L. Chalmers, Social Credit (1986-1991)
C.J. Serwa, Social Credit (1986-1996)
Mrs. S.K. Hawkins, Liberal (1996-2001)
R. Thorpe, Liberal (2001-2009)
B.R. Stewart, Liberal (2009-2013)

Location of the riding

Westside-Kelowna consists of 2 parts, divided by Lake Okanagan. Over 2/3 of the population of the riding lives on the west side of Lake Okanagan, in an area collectively known as “Westside”. On the west side of Lake Oakanagan, the riding runs from the edge of the Okanagan Indian reserve in the north to the community of Gellatly in the south. Most of the people in the riding of the west side of Lake Okanagan live in the new District of West Kelowna, which was incorporated in 2007. This is a fast growing suburb of Kelowna. The Westside also includes the Westbank First Nation, which is actually home to more White people than Aboriginals.  On the other side of Lake Okangan, the riding makes a small abut into the central part of the City of Kelowna. Less than 1/3 of the riding’s population lives in Kelowna. The two parts of the riding are connected by the William R. Bennett Bridge.

Political geography

Westside-Kelowna 2013 poll map

Politically, both parts of the riding are very Liberal. However, the west side of the riding is much more so than the central Kelowna portion. In May, the NDP won just 5 polls on the west side of Lake Okanagan, 4 of which were in the Westbank neighbourhood of West Kelowna. The Liberals saw their strongest areas along the coast of Lake Okanagan in West Kelowna as well as the area around Shannon Lake. The NDP does much better in the Kelowna portion of the riding. They won 14 polls there in the last election, three of which in the North End, and four in the Central City. Much like on the west side of Lake Okanagan, Liberal support in Kelowna is strongest in polls along the lake.

Westside-Kelowna % swing by poll (2009-2013)

In an attempt to get some sort of idea as to what kinds of areas swung NDP and which areas swung Liberal between the 2009 and 2013 elections, I also created a swing map of the riding. However, after making the map, I can’t see much in terms of patterns. There are some areas that swung heavily Liberal which are right next to areas that swung heavily to the NDP. In general however, the area is slowly swinging to the Liberals. Between 2005 and 2009, the riding saw a 1.2% swing to the Liberals. Between 2009 and 2013, it saw a further 4.4% swing. The Westside has always been a Liberal stronghold, but the Liberals have seen increasing numbers there. In Kelowna, the swing has been more pronounced. In the Kelowna portion of the riding, the NDP won 16 polls in 2005, 15 in 2009 and 14 in 2013. A slow, steady decline, while the rest of Kelowna has seen the Liberals ever increasing their vote.

(JP Kirby has poll maps for all three elections here:


And so, voters in the riding go to the polls today to in the very least replace Ben Stewart. In all likelihood, Premier Clark will win the riding to get her seat in the Assembly. The only thing in that may stop her is the fact that she has no ties in the riding, as she hails from the Lower Mainland, not the Interior- and there may be local anger over losing their local MLA in Stewart. But, voting for any of the other parties wont get him back. It has been the tradition in by-elections for major parties to not compete in by-elections against the leader of another party. However, the NDP has never followed that tradition, and thus will be running a candidate against Clark. They will be running Carole Gordon, a teacher who actually lives in the area. The Conservatives, which won no seats in May are also competing in the riding, hoping to take disgruntled right-of-centre voters away from the Liberals- perhaps in one last bid for legitimacy. They are running local realtor Sean Upshaw. The Greens are notably not running in the by-election, the only party to “respect” the tradition of not running against the leader of another party in a by-election. In addition, there are four independent candidates, and one representing the fringe Vision party. Polls close tonight at 8pm Pacific (11 Eastern).