Monday, January 16, 2017

Saint-Laurent By-Election

With the resignation of Stephane Dion, a by-election will need to be held in this riding.

I wanted to take a look at the riding, and examine who might win. The answer to that part is simple, the Liberals. However, there is more to an election, and by-elections by extension, than who wins.

The riding was created in 1988. Prior to this, most of the voters in the riding were in the Dollard riding, merged in with the municipality of Dollard, an anglophone community. In 1984, the former Mayor of Dollard, a Tory, managed to win the seat in a close race. Outside of this one blip, the seat was held by Liberals going back to 1953, at which time, this riding, which developed in the 'suburban boom' after WW2, had a very different nature. 

In short, this riding has been Liberal for it's entire life. 

In 1993, the PC Party managed to take 7.4% in this riding. In the 1996 by-election where Dion was first elected, the joint PC and Reform vote was 15.5%, and in the 1997 general election, the joint vote was 15.3%. 2000 saw the joint vote drop to 9.4%, and in 2004, it hit a low of 6.2%.

2006 saw the start of an increase in the vote here. First to 13.2%, then to 17.2% in 2008, and 17.5% in 2011, despite the "Orange Crush" in the province and across Montreal. This only increased to 19.5% in 2015, despite the Liberal surge.

It is, in fact, the resiliency of the Tory vote in this riding, despite the ups and downs in nearby ridings, that caught my attention. 

I harken back to Calgary Northeast. Which the Liberals won with 45.9% of the vote, compared to 39.8% for the Tory Incumbent. In the last election the margin was 56.8% for the Tories to 27.7% for the Liberals. In fact, despite a steady decline in the Liberal vote province-wide, the party held firm in this riding.

It is similar riding trend VS province-wide trend differences that is what's catching my attention here.

The question is to why. The answer is somewhat simple; minorities. Some of the boost in vote comes from the parts of this riding where a large number of Jewish voters live. There, however, is also a trend in the riding from areas where other minority groups live. The party's strategy of reaching out to minorities has not only been successful in the Toronto area, but in this riding here in Montreal. 

So, where are we in terms of how far off a Tory victory is?

The Tories won't win this by-election. The entire political system would have to be turned on it's head for that to happen. Nor will they win this riding in the next general election, and likely, not even in the one after that.

However, the MP elected in the by-election may find themselves in a difficult battle by 2023, and if they win, 2027 may see this riding go Blue, especially if the Tories manage to win a majority government in said election. 

10 years may seem like a long time off, but when it comes to breaking through in a place that has not elected a Tory MP since Justin Trudeau was a teenager, it's quite significant. 

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