Monday, March 10, 2014

The shift in Canadian politics over the last two generations

There has been a long term but steady shift of the number of seats in the House of Commons coming from BC, Alberta and Ontario.It means that the nature of Canada as a country will change as the political power shifts.

This is a table of percentage of the seats in the House of Commons in each region and how it is changed over time

Years     BC     AB   BC+AB The West Ont    Que  Atlantic
1953-65  8.30%  6.42% 14.72% 26.42% 32.08% 28.30% 12.45%
1968-74  8.71%  7.20% 15.91% 25.76% 33.33% 28.03% 12.12%
1979-84  9.93%  7.45% 17.38% 27.30% 33.69% 26.60% 11.35%
1988-93 10.85%  8.81% 19.66% 29.15% 33.56% 25.42% 10.85% 
1997-00 11.30%  8.64% 19.93% 29.24% 34.22% 24.92% 10.63%
2004-11 11.69%  9.09% 20.78% 29.87% 34.42% 24.35% 10.39%
Next    12.43% 10.06% 22.49% 30.77% 35.80% 23.08%  9.47%

The four provinces of Atlantic Canada now have fewer seats than any one of the four provinces with the most seats.   In the 1988 election BC had as many seats as all of Atlantic Canada.  In the 2015 election Alberta will have more seats than Atlantic Canada.   In the 1950s and early 60s BC and Alberta combined had only six more seats than Atlantic Canada.

Quebec has also been on long term decline with respect to its relative number of seats in the House of Commons.   From 1953 to 1965 the gap between Ontario and Quebec was only 10 seats, it will now be 43 seats.   Quebec had more seats than all of the West till 1979 to 1984, it now only has two more seats than BC and Alberta combined.

For many years the Liberal Party of Canada could win power because it would win the vast majority of the seats in Quebec.  In 1980 the Liberals won 74 seats in Quebec leaving them only 67 seats required from the rest of the country to achieve a majority.   In the next election if a party were to win all of the seats in Quebec, they would still have to win 92 seats in the rest of the country to get a majority.

BC and Alberta have combined seen a 50% rise in their proportion of the seats in the House of Commons.   To be able to win a majority government in Canada now requires that you have success in the west, specifically in BC and Alberta.  Alberta has been a right wing strong hold going back generations but BC has also reasonably right wing over the last two generations.  In the 13 elections since 1972, only in 1988 when the NDP won 19 of 32 seats did the right not win the majority of the seats in BC.

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