Here are the Republican and Democratic results – by county- thus far, as found on Wikipedia. The South is a huge power base of delegates for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Yesterday’s provincial by-election in Calgary-Greenway has contradictory interpretations.
It was a four-way race ranging from 27.7% for the winning PC candidate to 20.2% for the fourth-place NDP. It’s rare to see four candidates place above 20%. I could not find one such example in the 2015 federal election, unless you count Nanaimo-Ladysmith where the four-way race had the 4th place Greens at 19.7%.
In Calgary-Greenway, when only 7.5% separates 1st and 4th, it’s hard to see it as Earth-shaking. Nevertheless, the PCs won and a win is a win. Therefore, interpretation #1 is that the PCs are alive, that they must still be reckoned with, and the NDP’s relegation to fourth is a sign of their demise.
Interpretation #2 is that the Centre-Left (NDP/Liberal) has made major gains in this riding since 2012 and further reduced the PC-Wildrose combined vote from 2015. In 2012, the NDP-Liberal vote in this riding was a combined 15.5%; in yesterday’s by-election it was 42.8%. It rose from 36.2% in 2015 and given that that was solely the NDP vote, one can see how the NDP benefit from no Liberal in the race.
As Table 1 shows, the NDP was actually five times higher than its 2012 vote and the Liberals have doubled from 2012. There is a lot of talk about PC-Wildrose cooperation, but the centre-left should probably be viewed in the same way. Not that there is an imminent merger, but there is a competition for like-minded voters. The Liberals bothered to show up to the by-election after missing the 2015 GE and their impact was significant. That may be in part a result of local candidate influence, but I’m not sure how many saw the Liberals competing to win the seat.
The 2012 GE and 2016 by-election are interesting comparisons because the overall number of voters is very similar. It shows the overall reduction in votes for the PCs and Wildrose (centre-right) and the significant increase for the NDP and Liberals (centre-left). Let me nail this point a little harder in Chart 1 below:
Unlike the recent BC by-elections in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain and Vancouver-Mt. Pleasant, turnout in Calgary-Greenway as a percentage of the previous election was relatively high, and as noted, about the same as the 2012 GE. The by-election turnout was about two-thirds of the 2015 GE turnout while the BC by-elections were about 40% of the previous GE. That indicates a higher interest and engagement in the outcome and its possible impact on the next election.
If I was a PC or Wildrose strategist, I would interpret this result with some nervousness. The pool of centre-left voters in this by-election was almost evenly split. The voter pool that existed in 2015 massively went toward Rachel Notley’s NDP. This is basically the Justin Trudeau/federal NDP vote bloc. The Stephen Harper vote bloc was much larger provincially, but is also split. A consolidated centre-left offering (whereas those voters group behind one strong alternative) appears still able to defeat a split PC/Wildrose offering.
In reality, it is more complicated than described above. Voters move around between parties with more fluidity – a Liberal may never consider NDP and a PC may never consider voting Wildrose, and vice versa. But the by-election does show that the situation has become more, not less murkier as a result of Tuesday’s outcome. It’s too early, much too early, to write off the Alberta NDP.
Finally, it must be noted that – probably for the first time in Canada – there was a competitive four-way race between four South Asian candidates. This may well have created a dynamic that disrupted prevailing provincial political currents. I’m not close to the ground so I defer to others and invite comments. Regardless, the fact remains that the market share for the Centre-Left in this riding has increased sharply since 2012.
Thirty years ago this month, I was given the opportunity to participate in the Forum for Young Canadians. The name speaks for itself – for one week in Ottawa, young Canadians from all over Canada came together to learn about Canada’s institutions and learn from each other.
Forum is one example of the power of bringing young Canadians together. In my case, it led to many lifelong friendships and it opened my eyes to the breadth and depth of our federation. It also opened my eyes to the potential of contributing to the life of Canadian institutions.
How many young people were inspired to be a part of public service that week? Well, it certainly fuelled my engine in terms of politics and government. I was already hopelessly hooked as a teenager (an oddity), but I certainly came home with an even bigger appetite.
There were a lot of kids from all over Canada. In the photo above , you will also see Cyrus Reporter, Senior Advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. All the way from Merritt, BC.
And Stuart Hickox, the Executive Director of ONE.org in Canada, Bono’s initiative to combat extreme poverty in the world. My volunteer work with ONE stems from meeting Stuart at Forum 30 years ago, where he traveled from Winsloe, PEI.
I met lifelong friend Kimball Kastelen, who I cajoled into joining the BC Liberal Party and he made it to the ballot in 1991, placing a strong second in Kamloops.
At the end of that week in Ottawa, there was a
mock First Ministers’ Conference held with students forming provincial delegations and selecting a premier from amongst their ranks.
Kimball and I didn’t have a lot to do so we decided to promote a free trade agreement. For the balance of the day, we lobbied provincial delegations and managed to secure the agreement as one of the conference’s top priorities, with 8 of 10 provinces agreeing. Typically, Ontario refused to part with its protectionist ways but Manitoba was being hopelessly ideological. In any event, we got it done. (Brian Mulroney was a little late to the game with his free trade agreement).
Yes, I know. Hopelessly geeky. No, not the fact that we were earnest students. The fact that I would keep this piece of paper for 30 years!
With my Liberal heart beating inside me, the other mission that week was to pay homage to my Leader, Rt. Hon. John Turner in his 4th floor Centre Block office.
His ever attentive constituency assistant, Diane (Wells) Ledingham, arranged for me to crash a meeting between Mr. Turner and one of the Forum participants from Vancouver Quadra, Tom Kaweski, who despite my interloping, remains a lifelong friend.
Think about that. A former prime minister, then serving as Leader of the Opposition, making 15 minutes to shoot the breeze with two teenagers from BC. I’m not sure that happens as much anymore – maybe it does. But it sure made an impression on me. Mr. Turner, resplendent in his red cardigan, showed us around his office, including the secret panel where apparently MacKenzie King would hide from people demanding to see him.
It was a different time. There was virtually no security on Parliament Hill. We wandered the tunnels and hallways freely. There was no email or social media. There were no cel phones. Fax machines were new! When our week concluded, those of us who stayed in touch sent each other handwritten letters. Believe it or not Millennials, that’s how it used to be done.
Of those fresh-faced youngsters in the group photo, I’m not sure where most of them ended up, but I assume many are leaders in their community, academia, government, business or NGOs. In any case, I expect that that week in Ottawa 30 years ago was as formative experience in their lives as it was for me.
I don’t think Canada can have too much of these programs. The more interaction among young people from different regions and walks of life – the better; the more exposure to federal institutions – the better.
It’s good to see Forum continuing their good work. It remains a great program for young people today and in the future.