Riding Talk

The electoral commission could have saved us a lot of time by painting this map blue

The new riding maps are out! The new riding maps are out! It’s Christmas in July for political geeks!

As you may be aware, new riding boundaries will be in place for the 2015 election, and the commissions tasked with drawing said ridings have begun releasing them. Yesterday, the proposed Alberta maps were published, following up Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and British Columbia.

While riding changes inevitably lead to squawks of protest, my first reaction to the Alberta map is almost completely positive. Gone are Edmonton’s awkward rurban ridings, with the majority of Edmonton’s seats now purely urban. The Calgary-Edmonton corridor is more tightly contained, as is Lethbridge. Even the riding names have improved – gone are the boring compass ridings in Calgary (“Calgary North East”, “Calgary East”, “Calgary South-East”…), replaced with far cooler names like Calgary Heritage, Calgary Confederation, and Calgary Spy Hill. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to be the MP for Calgary Spy Hill?

Although there are some fairly significant changes to the rural map, the commission added new urban ridings without having to use too much white-out on the map. Edmonton Strathcona remains largely unchanged, which is good news for Alberta’s lone opposition MP. Ditto for the riding formerly known as Edmonton Centre (AKA Anne McLellan’s old seat). Without doing any kind of vote transposition, my eyeball estimate also pegs Edmonton Millwoods and Edmonton Griesback (have I mentioned how much I love the new names?) as possible pick-ups for the non-Conservative forces, if everything breaks right. (Edmonton before and after can be seen here, over at Daveberta)

In Calgary, the changes needed to be a bit more pronounced, with two new ridings added to the city. Still, the Calgary Centre that will host a by-election this fall will be largely the same Calgary Centre we’ll see in 2015. As for the other seats, I would expect Stephen Harper to claim Calgary Heritage, Jason Kenney to grab Calgary Midnapore, Rob Anders to take Calgary Signal Hill, Michelle Rempel to run in Calgary Confederation, Dianne Ablonczy to continue her reign over Calgary Nose Hill, Devinder Shory to choose Calgary McCall, and Deepak Obhrai to set up shop Calgary Forest Lawn. That would set up hotly contested Tory nominations for the new Spy Hill riding in the city’s rapidly growing north-west, and Calgary Sheppard in the city’s rapidly growing south-east.

While there’s no reason to believe the Tories won’t go 10 for 10 in 2015, the new ridings do offer a glimmer of hope for the Liberals and NDP in the long run. Calgary Centre remains a progressive oasis in the city’s downtown, but the real gift from the new boundaries might be the change from Calgary North-Centre to Calgary Confederation, with the richer suburbs to the north punted in favour of the University of Calgary campus. The riding is now full of polls the Liberals carry provincially, so it’s not unfathomable to imagine it might one day turn red. The demographics of Calgary Forest Lawn should also make it a long-term target for progressives in Calgary.

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Alberta Politics, Federal Politics

About CalgaryGrit

A former Calgary Liberal, now living in Toronto. My writings on politics can be found at www.calgarygrit.ca and online at the National Post.

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13 Responses to Riding Talk

  1. Jason Holborn

    Seriously, who wouldn’t want to be the MP for Calgary Spy Hill?

    Agreed; these names are far cooler than the usual kind!! Enthusiastic thumbs up.

  2. Jim R

    At first I thought “Calgary Nose Hill” was a typo, then I googled it. Silly me.

  3. Jim Vavra

    It’s actually Calgary Centre-North. It started out as North-Centre, but changed within a year.

  4. Scott

    Just to clarify, Edmonton-Griesback is actually Edmonton-Griesbach (pronounced grease-bah).

  5. Aman Hayer

    What about Calgary-McCall being in play? That new McCall is very similar to the provincial Calgary-McCall of 2008 which Darshan Kang carried.

    Temple, Monetary Park and Panorama are the only ridings which have been added on to the Calgary-McCall of 2008. But those communities have very similar demographics to there neighbourhoods in the rest of McCall. Temple and Falconridge are very similar demographics. While Panorama and Monetary Park are very similar to Coral Springs and Taradale.

    • Aman Hayer

      Note to self: proof read better next time :)

  6. Justin Bumstead

    I’ll have to disagree with long term hopes of the LPC in the proposed Calgary Forest Lawn. Using the 2011 data, the LPC would have received just over 2100 votes in CalFL, or 8% of the vote. The CPC plurality would be over 64%. If you match the 2008 polls to those boundaries, the showing is a bit stronger, but you are still looking at a 58% showing for the CPC.

    Whether you are running ecological models, or using survey data from the CES, I can’t see the demographics of CalFL matching being favourable to the LPC without a serious growth in party support. Although, with a miserable 39% turnout in those boundaries, it could possibly be done.

    Your assessment of Calgary Confederation is spot on though, and is the only riding in the new boundaries where center left vote exceeds that of the CPC, and one of few where the LPC would exceed the city and provincial averages. Cal Center is actually a stronger CPC riding than Confed in the new boundaries.

  7. Justin Bumstead

    Re Aman:

    Cal-McCall wouldn’t be in play, barring a major restructuring of Tory support. Despite a strong provincial Liberal presence, the CPC drastically outperforms its provincial counterparts in the riding.

  8. Pingback: Proposed AB Boundaries Offer *Some* Opposition Hope | Liblogs

  9. jc

    i prefer Edmonton Centre to Edmonton “McDougall”. just for the record.

    and i am delighted i no longer share my riding with people from Spruce Grove. like, they have nothing to do with my city. and now the Liberals might have a chance in the new riding, one day, as the provincial Liberals have held several seats in the area in recent history (such as Raj’s seat in Edmonton-Meadowlark, but also McClung).

  10. Art

    The Liberals are not about to win McDougall or any other seat in Alberta. The last poll put them at about 7% in the province.

    It was the NDP who came second in McDougall, and it’s the NDP who hold much of Greisbach provincially. Frankly, I have an easier time imagining the NDP winning in Calgary than the Liberals.

    • jared

      this is typical rhetoric coming from the NDP. the party is insufferably pompous and arrogant.

      and they haven’t even won an election yet.

  11. Aman Hayer

    @Justin

    I agree that it would require a major restructuring of the Tory support in the area for the Tory support to change. However, I am also of the belief that the area has a depressed voter turnout and if that could change the riding could tip in favour of the Liberals or NDP.

    The area is largely populated with new immigrants who are unlikely to vote. Since the riding was redistricted for the 2004 provincial election the voter turnout has consistently been well below 40 percent. Civic elections this is true as well when you look at Ward 3.

    If one of the parties can run a candidate who can tap into the immigrant vote in the area as the provincial Liberals have done this riding could tip in favour of the LPC.

    In fact take a look at the following:
    http://www.electionmapper.ca/election/map/2008/48004

    The voter turn out is consistently below 40 percent in that area. Only the Panorama, Coventry Hills area has a voter turnout above 40 percent. In many of the polls the Tory victory was between 30-50 votes compare that to the typical city average of 90-300.

    It is even better results for the Liberals in 2011:
    http://earth.smurfmatic.net/canada2011/polls/#48004

    The campaign team in both elections was the same as the campaign team in 2008 for Darshan Kang. I know that team has a heavy focus on the advanced vote so I’d imagine the Liberal vote is a little underestimated in the poll by poll result.

    Also generally the higher voter turnout in each of those polls correlates to a Liberal win or a tight race.

    I think the foundation is there and this riding could tip away from the Conservatives.

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