by Ben P
Wed Jan 18th, 2006 at 11:18:38 AM EST
from the diaries. There have been complaints that we write too much about America, but surely this is not true of Canada! Go read the earlier Part 1, the title of which has been used here.
I thought that, as a follow up to my earlier post on the landscape of the current Canadian election, I would provide some more background, with some more detailed information about the specific provinces.
Basically, Quebec has about 50% of its vote that will go to the Bloc, which will translate into about 75% of the Quebec seats. The other 25% will be fought out between the Liberals and the Tories.
Ontario is evenly split between the Liberals and the Conservatives, with the NDP pulling a respectable 20 to 25% of the vote. The NDP is strong in Native areas, heavy union towns (Hamilton, Windsor), and inner Toronto. Its much weaker elsewhere. Whoever wins the most seats in Ontario will win the most seats nationally.
Alberta is overwhelmingly Conservative. The Tories currently hold 26 of the provinces' 28 ridings, and will most likely hold them all after the election.
BC's politics are probably the weirdest in Canada. And in some ways resemble the red state/blue state divide in America. BC is often called Canada's California. The interior small town parts of BC tend to be strongly Conservative, but there are pockets of NDP strength, in the heavily native areas and also in some of the old mining/logging regions. Vancouver is very liberal with the contest there being between the Liberals and the NDP. Suburban Vancouver is a "swing" Liberal/Conservative region. The Green Party - which is actually not that leftwing, more like the German Green Party than the American Green Party - is quite popular in BC as well - it is currently polling about 10 to 12%.
The prairie provinces, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, have a history of left wing agrarian populism, that still has significant traces. However, especially in the case of Saskatchewan, the province has become quite Conservative in orientation (more at the federal level), largely for cultural reasons and populist antipathy towards "Ottawa". Whereas the Albertan form of Conservative is more economic in nature and revovlves around the issue of oil. This is less so in Manitoba, where the NDP remains a signficant force and will likely do well in Winnipeg and the North.
The Atlantic Provinces, are a whole other ball of wax. They are generally quite poor and isolated from the rest of Canada. There is a singificant French speaking population in New Brunswick. This will be the one region of the country where the Liberals win. The Liberals, Conservatives, and NDP will all win seats here, however.
The Northern Provinces - Yukon, Nunavut, the Northwest Terriotires - are geographically huge but have a very small population which is largely indigenous. They only have 4 seats amongst them, which will go to either the Liberals or the NDP.
By far, Ontario is the largest province. It posseses over a third of the potential seats. Quebec is not far behind, and has about a quarter of the seats. So clearly, for a party to form a government, you have to do well in at least one of these provinces, particularly Ontario.
A final point worth making is that Canadian federal politics is significantly different than internal provincial politics. For example, in BC, the primary battle at the Provincial level is between the BC Liberal Party (which is actually a conservative party, and is not related to the national Liberal Party) and the NDP. In Quebec, the current division is between the leftish sovreigntist party, the Parti Quebecois (not to be confused with the federal Bloc Quebecois), the Liberals (again, who do not have a relationship to the Federal Liberals), who are kind of ideologically amorphous and who are primarily held together by opposition to seperatism, and the Action Democratique, led by Mario Dumont, another rather vague party that is kind of center-right economically (perhaps the best comparison would be with the German Free Democrats), although it is kind of hard to get a handle on where they stand on basically any issue.