Monday, November 19, 2007

Liberal growth potential in the 905?

As a frustrated Greg Weston earlier griped, if it were up to Ontario the Liberals would be in government and Stephane Dion would be Prime Minister. Indeed, most polls have showed strong Liberal strength in Ontario, both for Dion and for the party.

Indeed, the latest SES numbers show the Liberals up by nearly 10 points in Ontario:

Liberals: 35.7 per cent
Conservatives: 26.6 per cent
NDP: 15.6 per cent
Greens: 5.3 per cent
Unsure: 16.9 per cent (more than support the NDP, interesting)

And when only decided voters are included:

Liberal: 42.9 per cent
Conservatives: 31.9 per cent
NDP: 18.8 per cent
Greens: 6.4 per cent

What is also interesting, and could lead to positive seat growth for the Liberals, is some of the demographic shifts taking place in the 905 belt, that suburban area outside of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). This suburban area is where Mike Harris won his majorities. They tend to be more Conservative-minded, and this is where Harper has been making inroads, with plans for more in the next election.

An interesting article in the Globe last month however, written after the provincial election, identified an interesting trend that could have important federal implications as well. The 905 ridings are becoming increasingly urban and, therefore, more likely to vote Liberal:

Ryerson University political scientist Neil Tomlinson said the movement of people from Toronto to rapidly growing suburbs such as Milton or Barrie was reflected in the shift away from the Tories on Wednesday. Their share of the provincial vote fell in 21 of 23 ridings, only eight of which went Conservative.

Prof. Tomlinson said the change in 905 voting comes from a fundamental shift in values.

"The whole character in these areas is now so different than a traditional suburban area. They are really urban. ... And as the character of an area changes, the issues that resonate with them change," he said.
And those issues are particularly interesting, as they are issues that the Harper government has all but ignored, not boding well for his chances in the 905. The whole drop dead incident comes to mind. The issues?
…the new suburbanites are more concerned with issues such as urban sprawl and the environment than the 905 denizens of the past, who found their rural and small-town values better represented by the Tories.

Now, in the interests of fairness, the professor does say he doesn’t think Harper needs to worry, as provincial issues and dynamics drove the seat results in October. True enough. But if he’s correct in identifying the demographic shifts then I’d say Harper does need to worry.

If the Liberals can make city issues front and centre, issues Harper has continued to ignore, then there would seem to be great room for growth in the 905. And, if nothing else, fighting a holding action would make Harper’s majority much more difficult to achieve.

Now, the other major driving factor in the 905 belt is ethnic issues, an area Harper and Jason Kenney have been putting a lot of effort into. But that’s a whole other story, and one others are better suited to address then I.

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Koby said...

It should be noted that the 905 is the worst represented area in all of Canada. If the Liberals were to stop defending the status quo and actually get behind the rep, by pop they might actually cash in the 905.

The biggest and most cases fastest growing seats in the 905 are all Liberal.

Bramalea - Gore - Malton

Brampton West


Mississauga - Erindale


Oak Ridges - Markham



The problem is right now the Liberal position is this.
“To enhance representation by population, the federal government needs to engage in an honest and open dialogue and consultation with the provinces,”
The last thing the Federal need to do is honest consulation with the provinces. There is nothing that says the Federal government must consult the provinces before going ahead with such a plan and there is nothing really to discuss. The closer we get to rep by pop the better. The further away the worse. It is just that simple. "Consultation" would just distort the the process and open the door to electoral blackmail.

Koby said...

There are currently 4 plus million living in the 905 and there are currently 32 seats for an average of just over 127,000 people per riding. By contrast there are 4.5 million people in Sask, Man, NWT, Nuv, Yuk,PEI,NS, NFLD,NB and there are 62 seats for an average of 72,000 people per riding. Given current growth trends. There will be more people in the 905 than the aformetioned by 2011 and by 2011 there will be nearly 145,000 people per 905 riding.