Saturday, July 7, 2012

Proposed AB Boundaries Offer *Some* Opposition Hope

The new boundaries for Alberta - or at least, the new proposed ones - are fairly interesting, and Daveberta and CalgaryGrit offer up some insightful comments on them, so be sure to check them out.

But given the scope of this blog, let's look at the two main cities - the two main areas for an Opposition pick-ups, Edmonton and, yes, even Calgary.

Edmonton will technically have only one new seat, though boundaries have shifted around a lot. That new seat - Edmonton-Manning - will take over essentially the portions of Edmonton-Sherwood Park that were in Edmonton, plus cropping off the top of Edmonton-East and a bit of Edmonton-St. Albert. This riding will remain solidly Conservative, by the way.

But it segways nicely into the first probably pick-up - Edmonton-Giesbach. No, I don't know why it is called that, but I like it. And it will be a big target for the NDP, whose good showing in Edmonton East in 2011 will help win this riding. Though how much of the dynamics will change, I'm unsure. Geisback will take a portion of Edmonton-St. Albert kwown as Calder, and provincially the NDP own the riding that covers this community; yet it voted heavily Conservative in 2011. But at the very least it should prove fertile ground for the NDP, as Geisbach is almost tailor-made for a Dipper pick-up.

Edmonton-McDouggall is another pick-up opportunity, but only because it changed only a bit from Edmonton-Centre, a perennial pick-up opportunity for centre-to-centre-left forces in the province. It makes the riding less Conservatives, but not by much; the riding loses the Meadowlark community (where provincial Liberal leader Raj Sherman represents), but that was always somewhat contested anyways. Its less of a possible pick-up for either the NDP or the Liberals than Giesback will be, but the fact that it takes in no new Conservative areas is always a plus for the Opposition.

And outside of that... eh. While these new Edmonton ridings are more urban, and therefore more likely to lose Conservative voters and by virtue of that, have a stronger Opposition presence, it still doesn't stack up too well. Except for Giesback, I'd rate all of these ridings as safe Conservative seats - even McDouggall. Edmonton-Strathcona, meanwhile, remains easily NDP, even with a little Conservative portion tacked on from Edmonton-Leduc.

Meanwhile, Calgary will gain three new ridings technically - Calgary-Shepard, Calgary-Forest Lawn, and Calgary Spy-Hill - it still remains fairly bleak for the NDP, and mostly for the Liberals as well, except for one notable exception.

Calgary-McCall is the new north-easternmost riding, replacing, erm, Calgary-Northeast. This is the riding in the last election where the Liberal scored 27%, based around the riding's Taradale, Saddle Ridge, and Martindale communities. These are ridings with a large immigrant presence - Taradale is, according to some statistic, 37% East Indian - and the candidate in 2011, Cam Stewart, was fairly good at getting their support it seems. While he still fell behind Devindor Shory by almost 30%, it was the best riding for any Opposition party in Calgary.

McCall, meanwhile, has chopped off the southern portions of Calgary-Northeast which voted mostly Conservative, and gained no new areas except for a small bit farther north. This will probably pump the Liberals up to 30%-35% in the riding, a very good opportunity for Liberals if they capitalize on what happened in 2011. It helps that the provincial riding of Calgary-McCall, held by Liberal MLA Darshan Kang, is within this riding.

Calgary-Confederation would represent the next best riding for the Opposition parties, split between both the Liberals and the NDP. Focused mostly on the old riding of Calgary-Centre North, it also adds the community of Varsity, centered around the University of Calgary, and combined it with a riding that, while not leaving the Conservative fold anytime soon, has some areas of contention. Confederation, after all, contains the provincial riding of Calgary-Mountain View with Liberal MLA David Swann. Combined with a university population and his personal populatiry in this part of the riding, if Swann wanted to run federally, I think he'd have a very good chance of winning here. But only if he runs. (hint hint)

On the other hand, Confederation taking Varsity has the unfortunately side effect of making Rob "Zzz" Anders' riding, most likely to be Calgary-Signall Hill, a virtual lock forever for him.

Other than those ridings, however, Calgary remains a good lock for the Cons. While Forest Lawn takes some Liberal areas of Calgary-North East, and Calgary-Centre loses a chunk of Conservative polls, its nowhere near enough to tip these ridings over. Conservative locks all.

Finally, Lethrbidge. This is the only riding outside of the two main cities that could feature a possible pick-up, in this case by the NDP. Lethbridge has shrunk quite a bit, losing all of its southern parts and all of those polls were Conservative (and one Liberal poll). The NDP are almost exclusively focused in Lethbridge, and provincially they almost won Lethbridge West last go around. The above map, which will include the new riding of Lethbridge (except the gray parts), shows why.

But the thing for the NDP is that outside of the city itself, all areas are Conservative. And unfortunately, Lethbridge East is included in this riding, and that area is very Conservative. A lot of Dippers harp on Lethbridge as a prime pick-up, and it can be - but its more along the lines of Calgary-Northeast than it is Edmonton-East (or Giesbach!). There are very specific areas of this riding that will vote for the party, and it will be very hard to get the other areas to do so as well. And unfortunately, simply winning the western portion of the city is not enough to land this riding in Dipper hands.


  1. A point on the name Griesbach; this part of northern Edmonton is referred to by this name because Griesbach used to be an army base around there. It has since closed down and been consolidated into the base at Namao north of town. So, now you know where that name comes from!

    1. Thanks for the correct name spelling, and thanks for the history! Very curious name they chose.

  2. Griesbach is also the name of one of the new neighbourhoods in that riding. Terrible name, still. My analysis calls for the riding to be named "Edmonton East--Calder".

    1. I agree, though I the eastern part of the riding - Highlands, Northlands? - should be included. So maybe Edmonton-Northlands-East Calder?

    2. I'd think "Edmonton-Teddy" is better, or perhaps "Tedmonton" but that's neither here nor there!