canada election map
o no one’s surprise, Canadians elected a minority government yesterday. The only surprise was Ontario, which delivered 75 of its 106 seats to the Liberals, defying both the pundits and the polls, and giving Prime Minister Paul Martin 25 more seats than expected in that province, all at the expense of the Conservatives. That gave his party a surprising 42 seat plurality over the Conservatives, who had been expected to eke out a small plurality.  Latest totals are as follows:

2000 Seats 2000 Pop.Vote % 2004 Seats 2004 Pop.Vote %
Liberal 172  41% 135  37%
Conservative   78  37%   99  29%
New Democratic Party   13    9%   19  15%
Bloc QuÈbecois   38  11%   54  13%
Green Party    0    2%    0   4%
Independent    0    0%    1   0%

What is clear from these numbers is that the electorate has taken a sharp and welcome turn to the left in this election. The rightist Conservatives lost nearly a quarter of their support, and only gained seats because they combined into a single party to exploit Canada’s antiquated first-past-the-post voting system. The three progressive parties, the NDP, Bloc and Greens saw their share of the vote rise by 50%. Canadians clearly said once again that Bush-style right-wing governments are not for us. I’m very proud of my fellow Canadians today.

I’m delighted to report that the Green Party got more than double the 2% of the vote nationally they needed to get the new government campaign funding of $1.75 per vote per year until the next election, and also behaved so credibly the Canadian media conglomerate won’t dare exclude them again from the national leaders’ debate next time.

There are at least a dozen seats that were won by fewer than 200 votes, so until the recounts are over, we won’t know whether the NDP will hold the balance of power (i.e. since 155 seats is a majority, the Liberals currently need only include the NDP and the Independent in their governing coalition, since together they have, at last count, 155 seats. This would mark the third Liberal-NDP coalition in Canadian history, and these have been Canada’s most responsible and progressive governments. But if the recounts eliminate this margin, then we’re in for stalemate and probably another election soon. NDP leader Jack Layton has insisted on an immediate binding national referendum on Proportional Representation as a condition for supporting the Liberals, so we could well see seat totals that are far more representative of popular vote in the next election — possibly including at least a dozen (4% of 308 seats) Green Party MPs!

What was most remarkable about this election, and hardly talked about at all by the major media, was the stark urban/rural split in the vote. Canada’s Big 3 urban areas (Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver) went solidly Liberal, the NDP won almost all their seats in other cities, and rural areas went overwhelmingly Conservative. While the regional split I have remarked on before (Liberals in Ontario, Conservatives in the West, Bloc in QuÈbec) was certainly evident again, the urban/rural split transcended this regionalism and applied from sea to sea. The 2004 election map won’t look much different from the 2000 map above, except that Reform Conservative blue is now Conservative blue, there will be a bit more Conservative blue in Ontario and Bloc blue in QuÈbec, and a bit more Liberal red in the Atlantic provinces.

It’s interesting to note that a month ago, before the voters got angry and threatened to deal Martin a worse blow. the polls predicted 143 Liberals, 85 Conservatives, 60 Bloc and 20 NDP seats, very close to the final outcome.

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  1. Rob Paterson says:

    I agree with your view Dave that we are seeing a divide between rural and urban. Even on PEI, if you look carefully at the numbers in my riding, the cons did passably in the rural areas but got creamed in the great metropolis of Stratford. I think that it is a values issue that splits the whole North American continent. We will find that the big cities will vote Kerry and the Mid West and the south will vote Bush.This makes me hopeful in Canada as the urban trends will keep the hinterland small. Even the Bloc is quite left. The actual support for low tax, keep women and immigrants in their place and put God back in school is small.Paradoxically, I also suspect that this split is potentially dangerous – we are happy to kill each other and in the 1860’s did. The same people who feel it is OK to murder doctors who perform abortions will be very pissed off that their new kingdom cannot be won at the ballot box just as they don’t want an independent judiciary either.Sorry about the rant but my feelings run high too

  2. Doug Alder says:

    You missed Southern Interior (my riding) David – if a fifth of the Greens had voted NDP that would have gone NDP as well. Con. got 16,928, NDP got 16,247 and Greens got 3,656.Dave I can’t agree with you about the media and the Greens. They will continue to be excluded from the leaders debates until they have at least a seat in parliament and I suspect big media will require at least a handful of seats.

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Rob: I think one of the defining characteristics of Canadians is that we aren’t “happy to kill each other” when the ballot box doesn’t give the result we want. You only have to look at the dismal 62% turnout — anyone who’s unhappy with the results has only themselves to blame, as a full turnout of any side’s supporters would have radically altered the result. The turnout among young voters was especially low, and that does concern me. David: It will be interesting to see what Martin’s view of Prop Rep will be. The big losers this time would have been the Bloc, who got twice the seats they would be entitled to under Prop Rep. The Liberals would have had 18 fewer seats, but the NDP would have had 40 more and the Greens 14 more, giving the governing coalition a lot more strength to introduce legislation without having to worry about non-confidence — a real concern right now with a single-vote Liberal-NDP majority, even though Martin says he will not formally create an NDP coalition. I wouldn’t be surprised if he at least puts Prop Rep to a binding national referendum.Doug: I’m having lunch with someone in the CBC next week — I’m interested in his insight into the leaders’ debate decision, and I’ll let you know what he says.

  4. Doug Alder says:

    “a real concern right now with a single-vote Liberal-NDP majority,”Um Dave – a majority (of 308 seats) is 155 seats. The NDP (19) and Liberals (135) together come up one seat short of a majority. This makes for an extremely unstable minority government. Was there a recount in the NDP or Liberal favour to change those totals? Or did I misread you?

  5. Jon Husband says:

    We need a couple of pixels of red somewhere in the icinity of Vancouver (although I voted NDP – my pencil swerved from Green at the last second, ’cause I knew the ideas and platform of the NDP candidate and liked what he had to say, and hadn’t heard anything from the Green candidate).My riding also had a Communist candidate :-) Bet thare aren’t any of those in the United Snakes of America any more.

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