Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Provincial by-election today in Carbonear-Harbour Grace, Newfoundland

Location of Carbonear-Harbour Grace within Newfoundland

With all the excitement of federal by-elections last night, one provincial by-election in Newfoundland has been overlooked by political pundits and media alike. Voters in the Avalon peninsula riding of Carbonear-Harbour Grace in Newfoundland and Labrador are heading to the polls today to elect a new member of the House of Assembly.

Carbonear-Harbour Grace is located on the western shore of Conception Bay, about 100km around the bay from St. John's. The main communities are obviously Carbonear and Harbour Grace, but the riding also contains the municipalities of Bryant's Cove and Victoria.  The riding was vacated on Oct 2 when the Tory MHA and Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy resigned.

Politically, the province has been undergoing a bit of a transformation since the last provincial election in 2011. The governing Progressive Conservatives are now widely unpopular, and the Liberals- perhaps buoyed by federal leader Justin Trudeau are now on top of the polls, despite finishing third in the popular vote in the last election. The NDP had been gaining in popularity since the election, but party infighting in the last few weeks has left the party in shambles.

Kennedy was very popular in the riding, he won the seat in 2007 and 2011 with three quarters of the vote (although, this could've been more to do with the popularity of Premier Danny Williams and his legacy). Kennedy won the riding for the first time in 2007. Before then it had been a Liberal district for much of its history. The NDP has never been competitive in this seat, often not even running candidates.


Carbonear-Bay de Verde (1949-1962); Carbonear (1962-1995)

Herbert Pottle, Liberal (1949-1956)
Geo. Clarke, Liberal (1956-1971)
Augustus Rowe, Prog. Cons. (1971-1975)
R. Moores, Liberal Reform (1975-1982)
Milton Peach, Prog. Cons. (1982-1989)
A. Reid, Liberal (1989-1995) 

Harbour Grace (1949-1996)

Jas. Chalker, Liberal (1949-1956)
Claude Sheppard, Liberal (1956-1966)
A. Moores, Liberal (1966-1971)
Hubert Kitchen, Liberal (1971-1972)
Haig Young, Prog. Cons. (1972-1989)
Jn. Crane, Liberal (1989-1995)

Carbonear-Harbour Grace (1996-present)

A. Reid, Liberal (1996-1998)
Geo. Sweeney, Liberal (1998-2007)
Jerome Kennedy, Prog. Cons. (2007-2013)

Political geography

2011 results by polling division

In 2011, Kennedy won with 76% of the vote. His victory allowed him to win every poll in the riding, with every polling division giving him at least 60% of the vote. Kennedy's worst poll in 2011 came from #19, which is located on the north side of Carbonear Harbour. That poll gave him just over 60%. You don't have to go very far to find his best poll, which was also in Carbonear.(in the south end of the town). This was poll #10 gave him 89% of the vote.

Federally, the the Carbonear-Harbour Grace area is in the Liberal-held riding of Avalon. In the last federal election, both the Liberals and Tories did well in the region. For the most part, the Liberals did better in Carbonear, while Harbour Grace was more of a mix.


Based on the riding history, and the fact that the Liberals are polling well in Newfoundland, it looks like the Liberals will probably win the by-election- at least in my opinion. The fact that Kennedy received over three quarters of the vote in 2011 is not an indication of this riding being a conservative riding. Plus the Liberals are running the most high profile candidate in Carbonear mayor Sam Slade. His Tory opponent is Carbonear native Jack Harrington, Kennedy's Executive Assistant. The NDP candidate is Freshwater resident Charlene Sudbrink, who is a potter and singer who works for the Newfoundland Liquor Corp. 

Polls close at 8pm Newfoundland time (6:30 Eastern).

Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25 federal by-election profiles: Brandon-Souris

The final installment in my four-part series covering today's by-elections takes a look at Brandon—Souris, in the southwestern corner of the province. Somewhat unexpectedly, due to mostly local factors, this formerly safe Conservative district has become the most likely to switch hands of the four by-elections today. The seat was vacated in August when Tory backbencher Merv Tweed resigned.

Brandon—Souris is dominated by the City of Brandon, which makes up just over half of the riding's population. Brandon is the hub of western Manitoba, and is the province's second largest city. The rest of the riding is very rural in nature, covering most of the southwest corner of the province, running from the community of Rivers in the north, and past Highway 5 in the east. Smaller communities in the riding include Virden, Killarney, Souris, Carberry, Boissevain and Melita.

Brandon-Souris guide map


Brandon-Souris was created in the 1952 redistribution following a merger of the former Brandon and Souris ridings. At the time, the riding was slightly smaller than today's boundaries, but contained mostly the same communities. The northern boundary passed just north of Virden and Brandon, the northeast boundary was formed by the Assiniboine River, and the eastern boundary was just east of Killarney. In 1966, the riding boundary was moved westward to exclude Killarney, and also moved northward to include the Elkhorn area. In 1976, the boundary was moved back east to include Killareny. In 1987, the Riverside Rural Municipality was removed from the riding. In 1996, Riverside was added back, and the eastern and northern boundaries were pushed outward to include the South Cypress Rural Municipality in the northeast, and the Rivers area in the north. In 2003, the boundaries were pushed further outward to include Carberry and North Cypress Rural Municipality in the northeast and Argyle and Roblin Rural Municipalities in the southeast.

From 1903 to 1952, the area was covered by two ridings, Brandon and Souris. During this time, the Brandon riding always consisted of the communities of Brandon, Souris and Virden, while the Souris riding always consisted of the communities of Killarney, Boissevain and Melita. The northern boundary of the Brandon riding remained the same during this period, running along the north side of the 12th Townships, while the boundary between Brandon and Souris remained static as well, running along the north side of the 6th townships. However, the eastern boundaries of both ridings fluctuated over time. In 1903, Brandon riding extended just east of the City of Brandon, while Souris extended much further to include Argyle and Roblin Rural Municipalities. In 1914, Souris' eastern boundary as moved westward slightly. In 1924, both ridings' eastern boundaries were moved westward by one range. In 1933, Brandon's boundaries remained the same, while Souris' eastern boundary was moved east by one range, but the area north of Killarney and east of the Souris River were removed from the riding. Finally, in 1947, Brandon's eastern boundary was moved eastward by 3 ranges, to include the communities of Shilo and Wawanesa, while Souris eastern and northeastern boundary were extended outward to include the Tiger Hills area north of Killarney. It should be noted that during this time, the community of Souris was confusingly never located in the riding of Souris. Instead, the riding was most likely named for the Souris River, which flowed through the riding. Thus, when the riding's were merged in 1952, the new riding took the name of both of its predecessors, which is why the riding is named “Brandon—Souris” to this day. The “Souris” is named for this predecessor riding, not for the town, which is not even the second largest community in the riding.

From 1896 to 1903, the area was covered by the riding of Brandon (Souris was split off of it in 1903). The Brandon riding of 1892 covered most of the same area as today's Brandon-Souris riding, except for the eastern end, excluding communities such as Killarney and Carberry. At the time, Killarney was in the riding of Lisgar.
This region of the province was annexed by Manitoba in 1881. Only a small sliver (the area around Dry River) of today's Brandon—Souris was located in Manitoba before this time. Upon the first redistribution after joining the province, the Brandon and Souris areas were first found in the riding of Selkirk. Prior to this time, the riding of Selkirk was located in the Winnipeg area. However, for some reason, the Selkirk riding was moved to the southwestern corner of the province, to include the areas south and west of Brandon, as well as the border region of the province, running along the southern border as far east as Plum Coulee (just east of Winkler). The Selkirk riding during this time was not located anywhere near the City of Selkirk, north of Winnipeg. In 1896, Selkirk was moved back to a more logical location north of Winnipeg, and the southwestern corner of the province was transferred to the riding of Brandon.

Members of Parliament:

Selkirk (1882-1896)
  • H.M. Sutherland, Liberal (1882-1887)
  • T.M. Daly, Cons. (1887-1896)

Brandon (1896-1953)
  • Dalton McCarthy, McCarthyite (1896)
  • Clifford Sifton, Liberal (1896-1911)
  • J.A.M. Aikins, Cons. (1911-1917)
  • H.P. Whidden, Unionist (1917-1921)
  • Rbt. Forke, Prog. (1921-1926); Liberal Prog. (1926-1930)
  • T.A. Crerar, Liberal (1930)
  • D.W. Beaubier, Cons. (1930-1938)
  • J.E. Matthews, Liberal (1938-1950)
  • W.G. Dinsdale, Prog. Cons. (1951-1953)

Souris (1904-1953)
  • F.L. Schaffner, Cons. (1904-1917)
  • A.E. Finley, Unionist (1917-1921)
  • Jas. Steedsman, Prog. (1921-1930)
  • E.F. Willis, Cons. (1930-1935)
  • G.W. McDonald, Liberal Prog. (1935-1940)
  • J.A. Ross, Prog. Cons. (1949-1953)

Brandon—Souris (1953-present)
  • W.G. Dinsdale, Prog. Cons. (1953-1982) continued
  • W.L.R. Clark, Prog. Cons. (1982-1993)
  • Glen McKinnon, Liberal (1993-1997)
  • R. Borotsik, Prog. Cons. (1997-2004)
  • M. Tweed, Cons. (2004-2013)

Brandon—Soruis' boundaries are set to change again. The recent federal electoral district boundary commission has changed the boundaries of the riding, set to take effect in the next federal election. The northern boundary will move southward, as the Rural Municipalities of Woodworth, Daly, Elton and North Cypress and the Towns of Rivers and Carberry will be moved to the riding of Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa. The eastern boundary will move eastward, taking in the Rural Municipalities of Victoria and Louise, the town of Pilot Mound and the Village of Crystal City.

Conservatives have dominated the Brandon—Souris area since the 1950s, with the Liberals only winning the riding once- in the Chretien wave of 1993 since then. Interestingly though, the riding was the only one in Western Canada to elect a Progressive Conservative in 1997, when Brandon mayor Rick Borostik was elected. The riding never voted for the Reform Party or the Canadian Alliance during this time, with Borostik being re-elected in 2000. A red Tory, he reluctantly joined the new Conservative Party in 2003 after the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives merged, but he did not run for re-election in 2004. Tory Merv Tweed has held the riding since then.

Prior to the 1950s, the area swung back and forth between the Liberals and Tories. However, the Liberals never held the more rural riding of Souris. The Progressive Party also did well in both Brandon and Souris, with Progressive leader Robert Forke holding Brandon between 1921 and 1930, James Steedsman holding Souris for the Progressives from 1921 to 1930 and Liberal Progressive G.W. McDonald representing Souris from 1935 to 1940. Thomas Crerar, who was also a Progressive Party leader held the riding of Brandon briefly in 1930, but as a Liberal. Additionally, Brandon was one of two ridings where the Anti-Catholic, Anti-French McCartyhite leader Dalton McCarthy ran in 1896. He won in Brandon as well as the Ontario riding of Simcoe North, where he chose to represent instead.

Political geography

Recent political dominance in this riding by the Conservatives dwarfs the political polarity in this riding between the city of Brandon and the rest of the riding. Brandon is far more moderate then the rural conservative parts of the riding. Except for a couple of Indian Reserves, the only polls the Tories have lost in the last three elections were in Brandon. If you go back to the 1997 and 2000 elections, Brandon backed their former mayor Progressive Conservative Rick Borostik, while rural Brandon—Souris backed the Reform or Canadian Alliance candidates. In provincial elections, the rural area surrounding Brandon votes overwhelmingly Tory, while Brandon itself is usually more competitive. Currently the NDP holds the provincial constituency of Brandon East, while the Tories have Brandon West.

Since first being elected in 2004, Merv Tweed has been able to win a majority of the vote in every election, including the 2011 election which was the first time he broke 60%. Since finishing second in 2004 with a quarter of the vote, the Liberal Party has been in steady decline in the riding, having their vote share decrease in every subsequent election. In 2006 they finished third with 18%, in 2008 they dropped to fourth with just 8%, and in 2011 they dropped to just 5%.This mark was the lowest ever for the Liberals since the riding was created over 60 years ago. The NDP has been the 2nd place party in this riding since 2006, and their 25.2% of the vote in 2011 was their best showing ever in the riding since its creation. While the Greens only won 6% of the vote in 2011, it was enough to eclipse the Liberals. The Greens were particularly strong in 2008, where they won 16% of the vote, just 600 votes fewer than the NDP candidate, and 2,600 votes more than the Liberal.


2011 results by polling division

The 2011 race in Brandon—Souris saw Merv Tweed win with his highest vote share of his federal electoral career, winning 64% of the vote. He defeated the second place NDP candidate, Jean Luc Bouche by over 13,500 votes. Geographically, his win gave him every single rural poll in the riding (that is outside of Brandon) except for two Indian Reserves. Within Brandon, Tweed won most of the polls as well, but performed poorly within the central part of the city. Outside of Brandon, Tweed's support wasn't concentrated particularly in any specific region of the riding, generally however, the further one gets from Brandon, the better he did. The NDP was the only other party to win any polls. All but two of the NDP's poll wins came from within the city of Brandon. The NDP won 9 polls and tied in one more in Brandon. Six of wins came from within the Downtown area (plus the tie). Outside of Brandon, the NDP won the two Indian Reserve polls: the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation and the Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation (Oak Lake Reserve).

The Strongest Conservative poll in 2011 was Poll #3, which comprises of the community of Kola in the Wallace Rural Municipality in the northwest part of the riding. Tweed won 91% of the vote there. The second best Conservative poll was in the adjacent poll #4, centered on the community of Scarth. In this poll, the Tories won 89% of the vote. The strongest NDP poll was #22, covering the Sioux Valley Reserve, where they won 73% of the vote. The NDP also did well in Poll #21, which covers the Oak Lake Reserve, where they won 61% of the vote. Poll #55 was the best Brandon poll for the NDP, where they won 54% of the vote. This poll covers the Assiniboine Gardens neighbourhood of Brandon, which is located just north of Downtown.


2008 results by polling division
 The 2008 election in Brandon—Souris was similar to 2011 in that the Tories won with a large majority of the vote, and won all of the rural polls (except the two Indian Reserves) and most of the city polls. The margin of victory was nearly the same as 2011 as well, with Tweed winning by 13,500 votes, as well the top two candidates were the same in the Conservative's Merv Tweed and the NDP's Jean Luc Bouche. The major difference between 2008 and 2011 was the strength of the Greens. The Green candidate, Dave Barnes ran a strong campaign, which resulted in a strong 16% of the vote. This resulted in 3rd place finish, behind the NDP, but allowed him to win a number of polls, all of which were in Brandon. Both the NDP and the Greens did well in Brandon, but the two parties split the non-Conservative vote, allowing the Tories to win more polls there than they did in 2011. Both the Greens and the NDP won four polls in Brandon, while the NDP tied in two more with the Conservatives. The Greens won three polls in the Downtown, plus the one poll that covers Brandon University. The NDP won two polls Downtown as well, plus their two ties.

As in 2011, the strongest poll for the Conservatives was poll #3 in Kola. The Tories picked up 88% of the vote there. Their second best poll this time was #173 in Holmfield, in the opposite (southeast) corner of the province. Holmfield is located just southeast of Killarney, and the Conservatives won 85% there. For the NDP, once again their two strongest polls came from the two Indian Reserves. They won 67% in Sioux Valley and 58% in Oak Lake. Their strongest Brandon poll was #116 in the East End of the city, where they won 47%. For the Greens, their best poll was #119, in Downtown Brandon, between 9 Street, 14 Street, Lorne Avenue and Victoria Avenue, winning 41% of the vote.

2008-2011 two-party swing

2008-2011 Conservative vs. NDP two-party swing

Both the 2008 and 2011 elections were races between the Conservatives and the NDP, so my two-party swing map analyzes the swing between those two parties from the 2008 election to the 2011 election. Both parties saw an increase in their vote share, with the Tories going up by 6.7% and the NDP up by 7.5%. This resulted in a small 0.4% swing to the NDP. The NDP benefited tremendously from the collapse of the Greens and the Liberals within the city of Brandon. Both the Greens and the Liberals had proportionally higher vote totals there, and with their collapse in 2011, much of their support went to the NDP. Outside of the Brandon area, most of the swing was towards the Conservatives, but usually only marginally so.


Brandon—Souris is a fairly homogenous WASPy riding. 83% of the riding is White, and 10% is Aboriginal. Two-thirds of the riding is Christian, with the United Church leading all Christian denominations at 23%. 17% of the riding is Catholic, 6% Are Anglican, and nearly one third is non religious. Income levels are average for Manitoba, with the median income at $30,000 and the average income at $37,000. According to the 2011 National Household Survey, well over half the riding reported having British Isles origins, with English, Scottish and Irish having large proportions. The riding also has a significant German and Ukrainian population. 

Leading non-English native language by Census Subdivision

Linguistically, English is by far the most common native language, with 86% of the riding having it as its mother tongue. The number two native language in the riding is German, at 4%, followed by Spanish (2%) and French (2%). German is the dominant second language in most parts of the riding, but they are concentrated mostly in the east. There are significant numbers of German native speakers (more than 20%) in the Rural Municipalities of Roblin, Glenwood, Cameron, North Cypress, South Cypress and Riverside. One other significant linguistic population lies in the Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation (Oak Lake), where 43% of residents are native Dakota speakers. One can assume that Dakota is widely spoken in Sioux Valley- the other Dakota Reserve, but no enumeration took place there. Also of note, Spanish is the second language of Brandon, although only 4% of the city are native Spanish speakers. Much of the southwestern corner of the riding lacks any linguistic diversity, which explains the light colours on the map. English is often the native language for 95-100% of the inhabitants in these areas. 

Candidates and expectations

Polls are suggesting that not only are the Liberals back to relevancy, but they are leading in this riding. Forum Research's most recent poll has the Liberals up 50-36 in this riding, an impressive lead indeed. So, what explains this? Well, the Liberal candidate in the riding brings some impressive name recognition. Their candidate is Rolf Dindsdale, who is the son of former Progressive Conservative MP Walter Dinsdale, who represented the area for 31 years. Rolf Dinsdale is a media executive with a colourful past, but the Dinsdale name runs deep in the city. Not only was his father a long time MP, but his grandfather was mayor of Brandon, and his brother is a two-time provincial Tory candidate. The Conservatives have a pretty strong candidate of their own in (now) former Athur-Virden MLA Larry Maguire. What's really hurting the Conservatives, however, is the ongoing Senate expenses scandal, among other things- that are really hurting the party. Another issue was with the nomination process with the Conservatives, which involved a candidate's nomination papers being rejected under dubious circumstances. With the riding supporting a Red Tory instead of a Reform or Canadian Alliance MP from 1997-2004 when surrounding ridings were electing Reform-Alliance Members of Parliament, it's not surprising to see the riding possibly going against the Conservatives, and electing a Liberal, son of a Tory MP. The NDP is running Labour Council president and Wawanesa resident Cory Szczepanski while the Greens are running greenhouse owner and Turtle Mountain resident David Neufeld.

If Forum Research is to be believed, the Liberals should take this riding, it what could be the only pick-up on by-election night. A Liberal win, would be the party would be sweeping the city of Brandon, where the Dinsdale name carries the most weight. Outside of Brandon will probably stay solidly conservative, especially the western part of the riding, which Maguire represented in the Manitoba Legislature. For the Liberals to win though, they have to break into the rural areas surrounding Brandon, as winning just the city will not be enough to win the riding. A Liberal pick up would be huge for the party, as it would be promoted as showing the public that they are the true alternative to the Conservatives, and would be a clear indicator that they are the number one party in the country at the moment.

Polls close in all four by-elections at 9:30 Eastern (8:30 Central).

Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 25 federal by-election profiles: Provencher

In the southeast corner of Manitoba lies the riding of Provencher, part three of my four part series in profiling Monday's federal by-election ridings. Provencher is a mostly rural riding that spans two different linguistic communities and is most notable for being the riding that sent Louis Riel to parliament. The riding is centred on the city of Steinbach, southeast of Winnipeg, but also includes a number of small communities, such as Ste. Anne and Lac du Bonnet. Provencher was vacated in July, when its scandal-ridden MP, (now) former Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews resigned.


Provencher was one of the original four ridings carved out of Manitoba when it became a province in 1870. By-elections were held in these four ridings in 1871 to elect the first members of parliament for the new province. Even in 1871, Provencher was located in the southeast corner of Manitoba. Although, at the time the eastern boundary of the province was at 96th meridian, further west than where it currently sits at, at about 95°10' W. Since 1871, Provencher has always at least consisted of the areas south of Steinbach, and east of the Red River. And almost from the very beginning, the riding has had a strong presence from the Franco-Manitoban and German Mennonite communities. To this day, both German and French are the native tongues of at least 10% of the riding respectively.

In 1871, the riding was dominated by French Metis settlers. At the time, the riding consisted of St. Boniface, today a largely Franco-Manitoban community in Winnipeg, as well as the Red River Valley south of Winnipeg and the rural area towards the east, including the Franco-Manitoban community of Ste. Anne. To this day, there is a Provencher Bridge and a Provencher Boulevard in St. Boniface. Over time, Mennonites from Eastern Europe and Germany began settling in the riding, especially in the Steinbach area, and a Mennonite Reserve was provided for them in what is now Hanover Municipality and Steinbach. The riding boundaries remained largely the same until 1914 (except for the eastern boundary of the province being formalized in 1891), when the northern boundary was shifted south to a straight line through Steinbach, separating Ste. Anne and St. Boniface from the rest of the riding. These areas were given to the new riding of Springfield. The riding also gained some territory around MacDonald rural municipality. The splitting of Steinbach only lasted until 1924, when the northern boundary was shifted northward slightly, while the western boundary was moved eastward closer to the Red River. In 1952, the riding expanded slightly westward, but no major changes occurred until 1966. In that year, the riding was expanded northward all the way to Berens River, more than half way up Lake Winnipeg. Also at the time, the western boundary was moved to the Red River south of Winnipeg. This shift brought Ste. Anne back to the riding, as well it added in Springfield Rural Municipality and Lac du Bonnet, but removed the Morris area for the first time in the riding's history. In 1976, the riding's northern boundary was pushed even further north, to the 57th parallel, while the western boundary was altered slightly. In 1987, the riding's boundaries were shifted back south, and the riding began to look similar to today. Morris rejoined the riding, as well as the Rhineland Rural Municipality, while Springfield was removed. The northern boundary was brought down to Powerview-Pine Falls close to where it is today. In 1996, most of Springfield rejoined the riding, while the northern boundary was moved south Pinawa. In 2003, the riding lost Rhineland, but gained the area between Pinawa and Poweverview-Pine Falls.

List of Provencher's MPs:

  1. Pierre Delorme, Cons. (1871-1872)
  2. G.-E. Cartier, Cons. (1872-1873)
  3. L.D. Riel, Independent (1873-1875)
  4. A.G.B. Bannatyne, Liberal (1875-1878)
  5. Jos. Dubuc, Cons. (1878-1879)
  6. A.A.C. Lariviere, Cons. (1889-1904)
  7. J.E. Cyr, Liberal (1904-1908)
  8. J.P. Molloy, Liberal (1908-1921)
  9. A.-L. Beaubien, Liberal (1921-1940)
  10. Rene Jutras, Liberal (1940-1957)
  11. W.H. Jorgenson, Prog. Cons. (1957-1968)
  12. M.G. Smerchanski, Liberal (1968-1972)
  13. A.J. Epp, Prog. Cons. (1972-1993)
  14. D. Iftody, Liberal (1993-2000)
  15. V. Toews, Canadian Alliance (2000-2003), Cons. (2003-2013)

The riding was mostly represented by Franco-Manitobans until 1957, including two Metis', Pierre Delorme and Louis Riel. (Although, Riel never sat in Parliament, and was expelled from the legislature in 1875 after being elected three times- one of those times was a by-election following him being unseated). In 1972, the riding elected its first Mennonite in Jake Epp. Toews is also a Mennonite.

Despite the riding electing an equal amount of Conservatives as Liberals in its history, the riding is a very safe Conservative riding. Toews has won comfortably since first being elected in 2000. Tories also dominated this riding between 1957 and 1993, losing only one election thanks to Trudeaumania. Tories also dominated the riding from 1871 to 1904 (losing only to Louis Riel and to the Liberals in 1875). Liberals held the riding uninterrupted from 1904 to 1957. The Chretien wave of 1993 helped the Liberals win the seat back in 1993, and a divided right wing kept the riding Liberal in 1997.

Today, at nearly 100,000 people, Provencher is the most populated and also fastest growing riding in Manitoba. This has meant that the federal riding boundary commission had to make the riding smaller, when it released its final report earlier this year. The report has the northern boundary of the riding shifting southward once again, leaving the communities of Pinawa, Lac du Bonnet and Powerview-Pine Falls to join the new riding of Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. The western boundary will also change, with both the Town and Rural Municipality of Morris being removed for the riding once again, and given to neighbouring Portage—Lisgar. Also, all of Springfield will be united in Provencher, instead of the current set up where the area north of Garven Road is in a different riding.

Political geography

Vic Toews has been able to win the riding with massive majorities since 2004, including winning 71% of the vote in 2011. However, before the Conservatives united in 2003, the riding featured close races between the Reform Party/Canadian Alliance and the Liberals in 1993, 1997 and to a lesser extent in 2000. It is in these elections, that the linguistic polarity (Mennonite Germans vs. Franco-Manitobans) can be seen best. During these elections it was the Franco-Manitobans that backed Liberal candidate David Iftody, while Mennonite German areas voted Reform/Canadian Alliance. The rest of the riding (mostly in the east) was the true battleground. Since 2004 however, the riding has become solid blue. Both in 2008 and 2011, the Liberals won not one single poll. You can still see the French areas of the riding on those maps however, as those areas are still less Conservative (lighter blue) than the rest of the riding. Meanwhile, the darkest blue areas are the German Mennonite regions of the riding, where it was not uncommon for Vic Toews to break 80% in any given poll. 

Between 1988 and 2006, the top two parties in the riding have been the Liberals and the Tories (or Reform/Canadian Alliance). However, in both the 2008 and 2011 elections, the NDP has become the 2nd party of the riding. Between 1988 and 2006, the NDP was stuck in the single digits before winning 14% in 2008 and 18% in 2011. The Liberals finished third in both elections, including 7% in 2011, their worst showing since 1930.

Both the 2008 and 2011 maps are very similar. The Tories won all but one poll in both elections, which was won by the NDP each time. That one poll is the Roseau River Indian Reserve in the south of the riding. The reserve consists of two parts, which is why it looks like the NDP actually won two polls.

In both elections, the most Conservative areas were the German Mennonite regions of Morris in the west, and Hanover and Steinbach in the central-west part of the riding. Outside the Roseau River Indian Reserve, the Tories were weakest in the Franco-Manitoban belt, that beings in the southwest part of the riding, goes between Morris and Hanover, and circles around Hanover ending on the east side of it. This belt includes the rural municipalities of Montcalm, De Salaberry, Ritchot, Tache and Ste. Anne, as well as the towns of Ste. Anne and St-Pierre-Jolys. In 2008, the Liberals did the best in this region, coming within one vote of winning one of the Ste. Anne polls. In 2011, much of this support shifted to the NDP. It was not just Francophones in Quebec who were brought in on the “Orange Wave”. In 2008, the strongest NDP areas were not in the Franco-Manitoban belt, but were rather in the northern part of the riding, an area with fewer Germans or French.

2011 results by polling division
In 2011, the strongest Conservative poll was #127, which covers the southern half of the community of Blumenort in Hanover Rural Municipality. It also contains the community of Clear Springs in Hanover, and some of Ste. Anne Rural Municipality. The Conservatives won an astounding 92% in that poll, as well as the neighbouring poll #128 covering the other half of Blumenort. Not surprisingly, the only poll the NDP won (poll #91) was their best poll, where they won 58%. Again, this poll covers the Roseau River Reserve. The next best poll for the NDP was 36% in poll #71 in Ste. Anne. 

2008 results by polling division

In 2008, poll #127 was also the strongest poll for the Tories. Vic Toews picked up 87% of the vote there. The NDP's best poll was again #91 again, where they won 44%. The next highest was #25 covering the community of Prawda on the Trans-Canada Highway in Reynolds Rural Municipality, where they won 35%. The Liberal's best poll was #71, in Ste. Anne Rural Municipality, where the party won 34% of the vote, losing by one single vote. This poll covers the rural area surrounding the Town of Ste. Anne, including the community of La Coulee.

2008-2011 Two-party swing

Provencher two-party swing (Conservatives vs. NDP) from 2008 to 2011

The 2008 and 2011 elections produced similar results with Toews winning 65% and 71% respectively, and the NDP winning 14% and 18% respectively. Both parties saw a modest increase in their vote share, resulting in a small two-party swing of 0.9% from the NDP to the Conservatives. Both parties gained mostly from the collapse of the Liberals, and to a lesser extent the Greens, as well as the right wing Christian Heritage Party, which actually finished 2nd place in a number of polls. Blue areas on my swing map basically show polls were the Tories benefited the most from this vote collapse, while orange areas show where the NDP benefited from the collapse. In the Franco-Manitoban belt, the NDP was the party that benefited the most from the Liberal collapse in their traditional territory. Albeit, the swing to the NDP there was very small, indicated by the very light shades of orange on the map. Much of the rest of the riding swung to the Tories. Not many areas swung heavily to either party.


Provencher is a typical rural riding, in that it has a high percentage of Whites, at 85%. Most of the rest, 12% is of Aboriginal descent. Most Aboriginals in the riding are in fact Metis, a remnant of the riding's history. 80% of the riding is Christian. The National Household Survey's “Other Christian” category is the largest Christian group, at 36%. Many of these people are understandably Mennonites. 24% are Catholics, and the United Church is the largest Protestant denomination at 6%. 20% of the riding is non religious. The median income in the riding is $29,000 and the average income is $36,000. This is typical for the province. Over one third of the riding identifies as ethnically German. There are also large numbers of people who identified as ethnically French, English, Ukrainian, Scottish and Russian.

Leading non-English native language by Census Subdivision

Linguistically, two thirds of residents have English as their native language. 17% are native German speakers and 10% are native French speakers. Native German speakers are concentrated in the former Mennonite Reserves, like in Hanover, Steinbach and Morris. La Broquerie, an historically French municipality next to Hanover also has more native German speakers than French. Native French speakers are concentrated in the Franco-Manitoba belt, which I mentioned earlier as running from Montcalm Rural Municipality in the south, down the Red River Valley, and wrapping around Hanover to include Ste. Anne. One town, Saint-Pierre-Jolys actually has more native French speakers than English. It is the only municipality in the riding where English isn't the number one native language. There are also French concentrations in the north end of the riding, mostly in Alexander Rural Municipality.


Due to the fact that Provencher is such a safe seat, the race there has become the least interesting of the four elections. And this fact is not just based on voting history but is also confirmed with polling data. But perhaps the Conservatives should be a little bit concerned, as a Forum Research poll conducted on November 22 shows the Tories with just an 11 point lead (48-37) over the Liberals there. Forum had the Tories ahead by 21 points just a week before. If momentum continues, the Liberals could even pick this seat up! Right now, Provencher is actually the only one of the four ridings where the Liberals are not ahead. Anything is possible though, with Justin Trudeaumania sweeping the country, the Tories in hot water over Senate scandals, and their local candidate being a no show for debates.

The Conservative front runner is Ted Falk, who is a Mennonite from Steinbach, and a businessman. He is also the former President of the Steinbach Credit Union. According to polls, Falk's main opponent is Terry Hayward of the Liberal Party. Hayward is a retired public servant from Springfield, and was the former President of the Beausejour chapter of something called “Canadian Parents for French”. The NDP is running a Francophone in Natalie Courcelles Beaudry, also a public servant. The Greens are running Janine Gibson, a past president of Canadian Organic Growers. She lives near Steinbach.

If the Liberals are only behind by 11 points in this riding, that means they will likely gain back much of the Franco-Manitoban belt that has slipped away from them in recent elections. It, of course, doesn't hurt that their candidate was President of a French organization. The NDP may actually be running a Francophone candidate, but it appears she isn't making any inroads in the riding. She may prevent the Liberals from winning enough of the Francophone vote to win the seat. But the Liberals need more than just the Francophone areas to win; they'll need some of the rural eastern and northern areas to win. Just placing second in Provencher would be good news for the Liberals, though who have finished third for the last two elections. A win would be a sign that the Liberals are back on top across the country.

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 25 federal by-election profiles: Toronto Centre

Location of Toronto Centre within Toronto

Part 2 of my series on the November 25 federal by-elections is on the Ontario riding of Toronto Centre. Toronto Centre is as the name suggests, in central Toronto. It exists at the east end of the Downtown core, bounded on the east by the Don River and on the south by Lake Ontario. The riding is very diverse socio-economically. For example, the riding takes in the most densely populated neighbourhood in the country (St. James Town) as well as one of the richest neighbourhoods in the country in Rosedale. These two polar extremes has meant that the Liberals have done well here in recent years, thanks to their ability in bridging the gap between these two communities. The Liberals have held the riding since 1993 in federal elections, and since 1999 in provincial elections, and is generally considered to be a safe Liberal seat.

Toronto Centre was vacated on July 31 when former Ontario Premier and former interim Liberal leader Bob Rae resigned his seat to become chief negotiator for James Bay area First Nations. Rae, a former New Democrat had held the seat since being elected in a by-election in March 2008. Prior to that, the seat had been held by another Interim Liberal leader in Bill Graham, who held the seat since 1993.

Map of the neighbourhoods of Toronto Centre


The area now known as Toronto Centre has been covered by the riding of Rosedale from 1933 to 1996, then by Toronto Centre—Rosedale to 2003, and then by Toronto Centre since then. Since 1933, the southern and eastern boundaries of those ridings have remained more or less consistent, with Lake Ontario on the south and the Don River on the east. Also from 1966 to 2003, the riding also included Toronto Island. Also since 1933, the northern boundary has tended to be in the vicinity of Mount Pleasant Cemetery. The western boundary of the riding has been the most fluent. From 1933 to 1966, it followed (from north to south) Yonge Street to Bloor Street to Sherbourne Street. In 1966, the boundary shifted westward to include the area between Sherbourne and Yonge south of Bloor. This western boundary stayed the same until 1987, when the boundary shifted westward once again to Avenue Road / University Avenue (south of the CPR). This boundary remained until 2003, when the western riding boundary was shifted back east to Yonge Street south of College Street.

Prior to 1933, the area covered multiple central Toronto ridings. From 1924 to 1933, the area north of Boor was in the riding of Toronto Northeast, while south of Bloor was in the riding of Toronto East Centre. From 1914 to 1924, the area north of Bloor was in the riding Toronto North, the area south of Queen Street was in Toronto South, while the area between Bloor and Queen west of Sherbourne was in Toronto Centre, while the area east of Sherbourne was in Toronto East. From 1903 to 1914, the northern boundary of Toronto Centre was further south on College Street, which was the southern boundary of Toronto North. The northern boundary of Toronto North was the city limits, which at the time cut through the northern part of modern day Toronto Centre. North of that was the riding of York South. The boundaries of Toronto East and Toronto South in the area remained unchanged from 1903 to 1924.  From 1872 to 1903 the area was split between three ridings, York East (north of Bloor- the city limit at the time), Toronto Centre (generally west of Jarvis) and Toronto East (generally east of Jarvis). Finally, between Confederation and 1872, the area was split between York East and Toronto east, divided at Bloor Street. West of Yonge was the riding of Toronto West.

The next federal election in 2015 will be fought on new boundaries, and with a plethora of new condo developments in the riding driving the population to over 130,000, the riding is set to get much smaller. The final redistribution report has Toronto Centre losing Rosedale and Yorkville to the new riding of “University—Rosedale”, while the area south of Mill Street will be transferred to the new riding of “Spadina—Fort York”. With the riding losing all of the wealthy areas that exist north of Bloor Street, the new Toronto Centre will become much more competitive between the Liberals and NDP in future elections.

Members of Parliament (following ridings found mostly within modern day Toronto Centre)

Toronto East (1867-1924)

  • Jas. Beatty, Cons. (1867-1874)
  • Jn. O’Donohue, Liberal (1874)
  • S. Platt, Ind. (1875-1882)
  • Jn. Small, Cons. (1882-1891)
  • Emerson Coatsworth, Cons. (1891-1896)
  • J.R. Robertson, I. Cons. (1896-1900)
  • A.E. Kemp, Cons. (1900-1908)
  • Jos. Russell, Ind. (1908-1911)
  • A.E. Kemp, Cons. (1911-1921) 2nd time
  • E.B. Ryckman, Cons. (1921-1925)

Toronto East Centre (1924-1933)

  • E.J. Bristol, Cons. (1925-1926)
  • R.C. Matthews, Cons. (1926-1935)

Rosedale (1933-1996); Toronto Centre—Rosedale (1996-2003); Toronto Centre (2003-present)

  • H.G. Clarke, Cons. (1935-1940)
  • H.R. Jackman, Prog. Cons. (1940-1949)
  • Chas. Henry, Liberal (1949-1957)
  • D.J. Walker, Prog. Cons. (1957-1962)
  • D.S. Macdonald, Liberal (1962-1978)
  • D.E. Crombie, Prog. Cons. (1978-1988)
  • D.H.S. MacDonald, Prog. Cons. (1988-1993)
  • W.C. Graham, Liberal (1993-2007)
  • R.K. Rae, Liberal (2008-2013)

The Conservatives dominated Toronto from confederation until World War II.  Between 1949 and 1993, the area was a swing riding, going back and forth between the Liberals and the Tories. The Tories elected during this time were Red Tories however. David MacDonald who represented the riding from 1988 to 1993 would even run for the NDP in 1997! Since 1993, the area has become super-safe for the Liberals. Much like the rest of central Toronto, the Tories have been a non-factor here. They have not received over 25% since 1988. Unlike most of central Toronto, the NDP have also been a non-factor in this riding. The NDP did not get over 25% here until the orange wave of 2011. However, they have finished 2nd in 5 of the last 7 elections.

Political geography

Since 1988, the Liberals have always received at least 40% of the vote in this riding, usually over 50%. Bob Rae’s 41% in 2011 was the worst showing by the Liberals here since 1984. The 2011 election was the closest race this riding has seen since 1988, where Tory David MacDonald defeated Liberal Bill Graham by just 80 votes. The race in 2011 was more comfortable, with Rae defeating NDP candidate Susan Wallace by 6000 votes.

Due to the socio economic extremes in the riding, the political geography shows the riding consists of two very different worlds. Prior to 2011 however, large Liberal wins masked this polarity. The 2011 election made the NDP competitive in the riding, and that made the map show the true (at least socio-economic) colours of the riding. While the Liberals won the seat in 2011, the NDP won the most amount of polls. The Liberals have won this riding because their centrist politics have been able to bridge the gap between the well-off inhabitants of Rosedale, and the working class residents south of Bloor. Where they didn’t win in 2011, they usually finished a strong 2nd place. And while the NDP won the most amount of polls- where they didn’t win- north of Bloor, and especially in Rosedale, their votes were few and far between.


Results by polling division (2011)

In 2011, the “Orange Wave” boosted the NDP across the country, and that hit Toronto Centre, despite the party not running a very large campaign. The Tories also so a boost in support in the riding, winning 23% of the vote, which was the best showing by a conservative candidate since 1988. But for the NDP, winning 30% was their best showing ever. And for the Liberals, it was their worst result since 1984. The Tories won 22 polls in the riding, almost all of them in either Rosedale or Yorkville. Their support was nearly non-existent south of Bloor Street. In contrast, despite winning a plurality of polls in 2011, the NDP won zero polls north of Bloor. NDP strength was concentrated in neighbourhoods such as St. James Town, Upper Jarvis, Church and Wellesley, the Garden District, Moss Park, Regent Park and Trefann Court. In contrast to the Tories and NDP, the Liberals were strong nearly everywhere. They only finished third in a small handful of polls. The polls that they did win were mostly in the bufferzone between the poorer southern half of the riding, and the wealthy north half. That is, mostly around Bloor Street, but also in Yuppie areas like Cabbagetown, and the new condo developments further south on the lakefront.

The strongest Liberal poll in the riding was the Kensington Apartments (poll #400) in Rosedale where the Liberals won 58%. The strongest NDP poll was #132-1 in the St. Lawrence neighbourhood, south of David Crombie Park near the lakefront. The  NDP won 65% there. Finally, the strongest Conservative poll was #12, in affluent Moore Park, next to the Carstowe Road Lands. The Tories won 60% there.

2008 (general) 

Results by polling division (2008 general)

The 2008 federal election was a very different story in Toronto Centre compared to 2011. Rae won over 27,000 votes, 18,000 more than his nearest rival, Conservative David Gentili. The NDP finished third in 2008, with 7,700 votes. Rae won 54% of the vote for the Liberals, which was enough to win all but a small handful of polls. Much like in 2011, Liberal support was spread fairly evenly across the riding. However, their strongest neighbourhood was in working class Regent Park, where they won over 70% is some polls.  The Tories won five polls, three in Rosedale, and two in Yorkville. The NDP won two polls in total. The Liberals’ strongest poll was #116 in Regent Park, where they won 73%. This poll covers a number of housing complexes surrounding Regent Park North. The strongest NDP poll was #418, which corresponds to 135 Sherbourne, an apartment in Moss Park. The poll just had 10 votes (6 of which were NDP). The top Conservative poll was #12 again, where they won 51%

2008 (by-election)
Results by polling division (2008 by-election)

A by-election was held in March 2008 to replace Bill Graham who had resigned in the previous summer. Graham had won 52% in the previous 2006 federal election, and the NDP was in 2nd with 24%. With NDP leader Jack Layton holding the neighbouring riding of Toronto-Danforth, the seat was a target for the NDP, but the Tories and the Greens also targeted the riding. Bob Rae would win an impressive 59%, which would be the highest percentage the Liberals have ever won in the riding. The three other parties won a similar share of the vote, at around 3000. The NDP’s El-Farouk Khaki finished 2nd with 14% of the vote, nearly 11,000 votes behind Rae. Just like Rae’s victory later in the year, the Liberals did generally evenly well across the riding, except for Regent Park where they did especially well. The NDP won a handful of polls, while the Tories tied in two, and the Greens won one.

The Liberals’ strongest poll was #125 in Regent Park, where they won a massive 88%. This poll includes a number of apartment buildings on the south side of Dundas Street between Sackville St.and River St. The strongest NDP poll was #424, which is in the Bay Street and Bloor area. They won 61% of the vote there. The Conservatives top poll was #107 in St. Lawrence, a poll they tied with the Liberals in. This poll which surrounds Berczy Park had both parties receiving 43%. There was one poll the Greens won, #460, which corresponds to 96 Gerrard St in the Garden District. 

2008-2011 two-party swing

NDP vs. Liberal two-party swing (2008 GE-2011)
The 2011 election gave the NDP a 14% swing from the Liberals. While this was not enough to give the NDP a victory, it did mean that all but two polls in the riding also swung in their direction. And some polls swung significantly more than others- another indication of how polarized the riding is. From 2008 to 2011, the Liberals went from winning nearly every poll, to less than even the second place NDP. Most of the swing to the NDP cam south of Bloor, indicating that lower income residents were more likely to change their votes, than the wealthier crowd in Rosedale and Moore Park. While those areas also swung to the NDP, it was in very small numbers. This shows that residents in the north part of the riding were more hesitant about switching their vote. Overall, the NDP saw its largest swing in Regent Park, but also saw large swings in Church & Wellesley, the Garden District, St. James Town and Moss Park. 

If the NDP wants to win the by-election, it will have to focus its resources on the area south of Bloor. Voters in the north part of the riding are clearly resistant to voting NDP, and there is likely very little to gain by focusing on Rosedale, Yorkville or Moore Park.


I’ve discussed quite a bit about how polarized the riding is economically, and one statistic that really shows this is the difference between average income and median income. The average income of the riding is $63,000, however the median income is almost half this, at $32,000.

Second most common mother tongue (after English) by Census Tract
South of Bloor the riding is quite multicultural and diverse, while the north half of the riding is very White. Overall, 58% of residents are White. The riding also has sizeable communities of South Asians, ethnic Chinese and Blacks.
47% of the riding is Christian (almost half of which are Catholic) while 34% of residents have no religion. 8% are Muslims. 

English is the dominant language with 62% of residents being native English speakers. Chinese is the second language of the riding, with 7% of residents being native speakers. The second language map I have made shows three significant linguistic clusters in the riding. There are a large number of Chinese speakers in and around the University of Toronto campus in the western part of the riding and the northwest corner of the Garden District, which is next to Ryerson University. Many of these people could be non-voting students. St. James Town is another linguistic cluster. The neighbourhood is very linguistically diverse, by Tagalog is the largest non-English language there. Further south in Regent Park, another linguistically diverse area has Bengali as being the dominant non-English language. 


The by-election in Toronto Centre has narrowed down to a two horse race between the Liberals and the NDP.  According to the most recent Forum Research poll conducted on November 14, the Liberals lead the NDP in the riding by a 47-32% margin, which appears to be a fairly safe distance. This result would be a bigger margin of victory than the Liberals had in 2011. However, it’s possible that momentum could be in the NDP’s favour, which could mean a tightened race. As by-elections usually go, the third and fourth place parties in the riding (the Tories and Greens) may see their vote be depressed, and that could be good news for the Liberals, as the Tories are polling in the mid-teens, and the Greens at 4%.

The Liberals are running writer and journalist Chrystia Freeland who is a past writer for the Globe and Mail among other noteworthy publications. The NDP is running Linda McQuaig, who is another journalist, noted for being a left wing scribe. She is also a former Globe and Mail employee and also a writer for the Toronto Star. The mudslinging between the two candidates have been predictable, with Freeland being criticized for just moving back to Toronto in the Summer to run in the by-election (after living in New York) and McQuaig being criticized for her left wing ties, such as saluting Hugo Chavez. The sacrificial lamb for the Conservatives is Geoff Pollock, a corporate lawyer and the Greens are running John Deverell, another journalist with the Toronto Star.

If the election does tighten up, expect a similar map as in the 2011 election, with the Liberals winning in the north and the NDP in the south. A collapsed Tory vote will mean very large margins for the Liberals in Rosedale and Moore Park. To win, the NDP needs to turn out their would-be base in places like Regent Park and St. James Town. Even if the NDP loses, they could potentially win the poll count again, thanks to the giant vote sink north of Bloor where much of the Liberal vote will be from. An NDP win would be huge for the party, as it would negate a potential Liberal pickup in Brandon-Souris. However, I think an NDP win in Toronto Centre is still unlikely at this point. We’ll see what the final polls say!

Editor’s note: Expect a post on Provencher this weekend and on Brandon-Souris on Election Day Monday.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 25 federal by-election profiles: Bourassa

Location of Bourassa

Four federal by-elections will be held on November 25, one in Quebec (Bourassa), one in Ontario (Toronto Centre) and two in Manitoba (Provencher and Brandon-Souris). Up until that date, I will be profiling each of the four ridings. Today I will take a look at Bourassa.

Bourassa is located in the north end of Montreal, containing most of Montreal-Nord Borough, as well as parts of the Districts of Sault-au-Recollet and Riviere-des-Prairies. It was vacated on June 2 when its MP, Liberal Denis Coderre resigned to run for mayor of Montreal (which he won, in elections held earlier this month).


Bourassa has been centered on the Montreal Borough of Montreal-Nord since its creation in 1966. Almost the entire borough is in the riding, and over 80% of the riding consists of the borough. Since its creation in 1966, the riding has generally moved northward. In 1966, it included the Sault-au-Recollet neighbourhood, which is now in the Borough of Ahuntsic-Cartierville. In 1976, the riding only contained part of Sault-au-Recollet, and by 1987 the riding just included Montreal-Nord. In 1996, the riding’s boundaries shifted northward to include part of Riviere-des-Prairies District. The most recent re-distribution had the riding gain even more of Riviere-des-Prairies, but also grow south to include part of Sault-au Recollet again.

Bourassa was created in 1966 from parts of Mercier, Dollard and Laval. However, the Montreal-Nord portion of the riding, and indeed all of the riding with today’s boundaries was found in the riding of Mercier.

At confederation, what is today Montreal-Nord was found in the Parish of Sault-au-Recollet, which was located in the riding of Hochelaga until 1896. At that point it was transferred to Laval. Montreal-Nord was incorporated as a Town in 1915. In 1917 the new town was transferred to the riding of Maisonneuve before joining Mercier in 1935. Montreal-Nord became a Borough of Montreal upon amalgamation in 2002.

The riding is set to move southwards again following according to the final report of the redistribution commission. The report has the southern boundary becoming Autoroute 19, which would give the riding all of Sault-au-Recollet District, and has the northern boundary becoming Autoroute 25, which would have the riding losing its part of Riviere-des-Prairies. 

Map of the riding's political divisions

Members of Parliament

Hochelaga (1867-1896)
1)      A.-A. Dorion, Liberal (1867-1872)
2)      Louis Beaubien, Cons. (1872-1874)
3)      Alphonse Desjardins, Cons. (1874-1892)
4)      S. Lachapelle, Cons. (1892-1896)

Laval (1896-1917)
5)      Thos. Fortin, Liberal (1892-1901)
6)      J.-E.-E. Leonard, Cons. (1902-1908)
7)      C.-A. Wilson, Cons. (1908-1917)

Maisonneuve (1917-1935)
8)      Rodolphe Lemieux, Laurier Liberal (1917-1921)
9)      Clement Robitaille, Liberal (1921-1932)
10)  J.-A. Jean, Liberal (1932-1935)

Mercier (1935-1968)
      10) J.-A. Jean, Liberal (1935-1949) continued
11)  Marcel Monette, Liberal (1949-1958)
12)  Andre Gillet, Prog. Cons. (1958-1962)
13)  Prosper Boulanger, Liberal (1962-1968)

Bourassa (1968-present) (Known as Montreal—Bourassa: 1971-1976)
14)  J.-L. Trudel, Liberal (1968-1979)
15)  Carlo Rossi, Liberal (1979-1988)
16)  Ms. Marie Gibeau, Prog. Cons. (1988-1993)
17)  Osvaldo Nunez, B.Q. (1993-1997)
18)  Denis Coderre, Liberal (1997-2013)

Since World War I, the area has been fairly safe for the Liberals. Since then, the Tories only won the area in the Diefenbaker sweep of 1958 and under Mulroney in 1988. The Bloc was only able to win the riding in 1993 at the height of its popularity.

Political Geography

Since first being elected in 1997, Coderre enjoyed comfortable victories, usually by at least 10 points. From 1997 until the 2011 election, the Bloc Quebecois has been Coderre’s main adversary in the riding. The Bloc came closest to winning back the seat in 2006, when their candidate Apraham Niziblian lost by 5000 votes. However, the closest race Coderre had to face was in 2011, and it wasn’t against the Bloc, it was against the NDP. Coderre was spared from the “orange wave” that hit the province by a 3,200 vote margin. The Bloc finished third, 11,000 votes behind Coderre.

When the Bloc was competitive between the 1997 and 2008 elections, their main strength was in the southwest part of the riding, in Marie-Clarac District and in Sault-au-Recollet. In 2011, the NDP’s strength came from much of the same areas, but they also were strong in the northern part of the riding, in the northern half of Ovide-Clermont and in parts of Riviere-des-Prairies.  The Liberals, in contrast have consistently been the strongest in the northern and eastern parts of the riding.

Recent elections:

2008 results by polling division
In 2008, Coderre won the riding handedly, defeating the Bloc’s Daniel Mailhot by 9,700 votes. The Tories and NDP were a distant third and fourth respectively.  Mailhot won just 11 polls (tying in 2 others). 8 of these polls (plus the 2 ties) were in the southern half of the riding, including 3 (plus one tie) in Sault-au-Recollet. However, the strongest poll for the Bloc was #63, located adjacent to Parc Le Carignan in Ovide-Clermont District, where they won 48%.  Coderre’s strongest poll was #13-1, where he won 73% of the vote. This poll is located in Riviere-des-Prairies, on its western border, on 4th Avenue.

2011 results by polling division
In 2011, the NDP orange wave swung every single poll in the district towards the party (for an average swing of 17%), but it was not enough to win the riding. Coderre won the riding with 41% of the vote, while the NDP’s Julie Demers won 32%. The Bloc’s Denis Mailhot ran again, but was reduced to 16%, while the Tories won 9%. The NDP was able to win about 40% of the polls, while the Liberals won the rest. The Bloc tied the NDP in one poll, one of only a handful where the Liberals finished 3rd.  The strongest NDP poll was #73, where they won exactly 50% of the vote. This poll is located next to Parc Aime-Leonard in Marie-Clarac District, and went Liberal in 2008. The strongest Liberal poll was #51 where the Liberals won 60%. This poll is located in the eastern part of the riding, in Ovide-Clermont District, between Normandie Street and Auger Ave. 


Bourassa is a poorer, immigrant rich riding. According to the flawed National Household Survey data, the riding has an average income of $26,000, almost $7,000 less than the Montreal average. The riding has a large Black population, totaling 21%. Most Blacks in the riding are of Haitian origin, with 18% of the population reporting Haitian origins. This is the largest Haitian population of any riding in the country. This can be seen in the language breakdown of the riding, as 9% of the riding are native Creole speakers. That’s the third largest native language in the riding, after French (51%) and Italian (10%). 7% of the riding are native Arabic speakers, 7% Spanish, and just 4% are native English speakers. 14% of the riding are ethnic Italians, which is the fourth largest ethnic group in the riding after “Canadian”, “French”, and Haitian. Despite having a large Italian population, the proportion of Catholics in the riding is low for Quebec, at 62%. Islam is the 2nd largest religious group, with 13% of the riding being Muslim. 
Second most spoken language (after French) by Census Tract

Because the National Household Survey has not released data by census tract, the only way to map the demographics of the riding using 2011 data is to look at mother tongue, which was asked on the short form census and is therefore available at the census tract level. French is the largest native language in every census tract in the riding, but in terms of second most spoken languages, there are large clusters of Italian, Creoles and Arabic speakers. The Creole speakers are concentrated in Montreal-Nord Borough, in the central-east part of the borough, and in the northwest of Ovide-Clermont District. Italian speakers are concentrated in the rest of Ovide-Clermont District, but are the highest in Rievere-des-Prairies. Arabic speakers are concentrated in the southern half of Marie-Clarac District.


Due to the high percentage of Haitians in the riding, two of the political parties have attracted candidates of Haitian origins to the campaign. The Liberals are running Emmanuel Dubourg, who was born in Haiti, and was an MNA representing neighbouring Viau riding in the provincial assembly from 2007 until he resigned to run in the federal by-election in August. The NDP will probably be the largest threat to the Liberals again. The NDP is also running a native Haitian in Stephane Moraille. She is a lawyer, but is probably best known being in the Juno Award winning band “Bran Van 3000”. The Bloc is running Daniel Duranleau, who is a former school trustee with the Montreal School Board who represented Hochelaga-Maisonneuve Borough, which is outside the riding. The Tories are also running a Black candidate, but not a Haitian. Running for the Conservatives is Rida Mahmout, a native of the Ivory Coast. He is an architectural technician. Finally, the Greens originally had a star candidate in former hockey player (and ethnic Haitian) Georges Laraque. However, he stepped down as candidate and as Deputy Leader of the Greens after fraud charges. Laraque was replaced by Danny Polifroni, an ethnic Italian, who ran for the provincial Greens in 2012 in neighbouring Laurier-Dorion riding.

With Bourassa being only one of 34 ridings in the entire country to go Liberal in 2011, there is little doubt that the Liberals have the advantage here, now that they are leading in the polls. Local riding polls show this as well. Forum Research’s most recent poll from November 5 shows the Liberals well ahead of the NDP, leading by a 56%-19% margin. The Bloc may also be competitive for second place, as the poll showed them at 17%. Both the Tories and Greens were in single digits. Since the poll was taken however, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has taken a hit in the media for some controversial things he has been up to, so we will see if they can keep their large lead in the riding. If voters wish to dump the Grits, they are going to have to chose to back either the NDP or Bloc, as they are now splitting the vote.