Alberta Politics

A closer look at Alberta’s new electoral map

Readers of this blog will know that I have a long-time interest in the topic of redrawing electoral boundaries. Over the next few months I plan to take a closer look at some of the latest electoral district changes in Alberta that will take effect when the next provincial general election is called. If there is an area of the province, or a specific new district that you would like me to look at, please let me know.

South of the border, FiveThirtyEight has come out with a fascinating series of podcast episodes – the Gerrymandering Project – that focuses on how electoral boundaries are redrawn in some parts of the United States of America (we may have some problems in Canada, but they are nothing compared to the extreme level of partisan interference in some US states). Take a listen and enjoy.

14 replies on “A closer look at Alberta’s new electoral map”

Overall the latest Commission seems to have done a good job, at least in terms of meeting their mandate while providing balance and/or remaining impartial. Each party has ridings that, on paper at least, appear to have gained or lost in strength. For the governing NDP, Banff-Kananskis improved (the removal of Cochrane and addition of Tsuu T’ina) while Central Peace – Notley got much tougher (the addition of Valleyview and Fox Creek), as just two examples. Likewise for the UCP, Airdrie-Cochrane feels like a safer riding than before (the addition of Cochrane & rural areas) whereas Cardston-Siksika got more challenging (the MLA’s recent comments surely didn’t help either).

Ridings that could use an in-depth look include those listed above, as well as Calgary-Glenmore (gave up it’s strongest orange polls), Morinville-St.Albert (is this winnable for the NDP?), West Yellowhead (does the addition of Whitecourt swing the math UCP?), as well as the interesting decisions that went into the new urban riding of Stony Plain-Spruce Grove and it’s sandwich bread friends in Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland and Drayton Valley-Devon.

I think it would be interesting to look at how the new boundaries relate to franco-Albertans and indigenous peoples. Are there ridings with a large percentage of either of these communities? Could be interesting to look at especially with the new census data.

I was wondering when you would reference the fivethirtyeight gerrymandering series with your interest in electoral boundaries!

I thought the shout-out at the end of the series to Canada’s electoral boundaries process was nice to hear about. I will think the electoral boundaries usually make sense, and the commission’s are usually open to feedback when they end up drawing something weird.

Looking forward to your own series!

The gerrymandering in the United States is quite blatant and breathtaking. No wonder the House of Representatives re-elects over 90% of incumbents in most cycles. But what do you expect when you have state legislatures (i.e. politicians) drawing the boundaries in most cases?

Iowa is one of the only exceptions that I am aware of, where redistricting is completely non-partisan. It’s no surprise to me that Iowa is one of the only states where: a) all of the congressional districts make logical/geographic sense, and b) all of the districts are generally quite competitive in most election cycles.

Closer to home, I’m curious about SpaceDawg’s comment that Cardston-Siksika is now more challenging for the UCP. Surely this is one of the safest areas for small-c conservatives in the province? Cardston-Taber-Warner had the distinction of being the only riding to elect a member of the Alberta Alliance in the pre-Wildrose days, and last election the NDP was a distant, distant third (even with no Liberal candidate). The rest of the new riding is being carved out of Little Bow, again, a longstanding small-c conservative stronghold from the Ray Speaker days. Hard to see how this is anything other than a UCP slam dunk, unless I’m missing something?

Grande Prairie has an urban-only riding for the first time ever. Poll by poll historical breakdowns show it could follow Edmonton urban trends – but likely won’t be a sure thing for any party.

The confusion is that our area, of Grande Prairie (The Avondale area) use to be the Grande Prairie-Wapiti Constituency. Now, it appears to be the Grande Prairie Constituency.

One aspect is, our city has been effected by the anti-pipeline and anti-oil, which would seem to make it bad for NDP, but yes… hard to know…

This should be more widely known, for long time Grande Prairie residents, that our Constituency’s have changed.

Agreed on Banff-Kananaskis. Removing Cochrane and its odd melange of cowboys, ranchers, and white-collar folks who commute to Calgary every day has really shifted the balance toward Banff and Canmore with their high immigrant populations, workforce that is dominated by low-paying service/hospitality jobs, and NDP-friendly municipal governments.

However, where I live in Springbank has now been included in Canmore and Banff. Springbank has always been conservative. Now we are pushed into Banff Canmore to be offset against a large NDP population. That is Gerrymandering to me.

At the end of August I got a call from volunteers of one of three UCP ‘hopefuls’ asking me to vote in the Maskwacis-Wetaskiwin riding at Mulhurst Bay. I was told by that volunteer that Mark Smith was no longer my MLA as of 2015. That seemed weird and I asked how they knew which new riding I was now in. They said by my postal code and also they had a list. I was on that list they said. I show up at the polling station the next morning with my UCP card and ID and the fellow looks in the binder, indeed, there I am! He hands me a ballot and I vote. It seems Rick Wilson is the winner over Andres and Kim. Then I find out several months later that I’m not in that riding at all. My MLA remains Mark Smith until this spring’s new election at which at that time I will be voting in the riding of Jason Nixon in Rimbey-Rocky-Sundre! So for 4 years I have NO REPRESENTATION because Smith is arrogant and knows those on boundaries will not be his constituents next time around, so he treats us as though we are dirt. Unless Joe Anglin runs I won’t even bother voting next time around because I have no choices. Why vote for a Mama’s boy that takes my tax dollars to set up WAR rooms against those of us tormented by the petroleum industry poisoning us and taking our land without input into projects prior to application to the AER ( Alberta Energy Rubber-stamper? is what I put in my SOC/ Appeal to app 1915821 Baytex which was denied because the AER fears me like the plague!)

We have been in the Brooks-Strathmore riding for 35 years. We live 5 minutes east of Strathmore and now I find my new riding is Didsbury, three Hills, Olds? I’ve never used any services at any of these towns. Our children grew up and attended school in Strathmore. My office is in Strathmore, we get our mail and use the Strathmore Community centres as well as our doctors and hospital there. Strathmore is our community and we’ve always supported local business there. The cut off for our riding is literally one minute from our home. Who decides these things? Our vote this year is not even going to matter as it will not be feasible due to the fact that I never will travel to my new riding as it is 87.5 km away. There are massive people in our farming community that are very upset about this.

Thank God our electoral boundaries are not shaped (gerrymandered) by political partisans. Overall, it seems they finally got it right with (largely) equal representation for urban, suburban and rural/northern electors. Time to give credit where it’s due!!

I have been vainly searching for a Election boundary map for Lethbridge. Why is it so difficult? I went to so many sites and couldn’t get into some, but nowhere could I get a map specifically of the boundaries in
Lethbridge. Can I be sent one or can you post one that can be actually read on line?

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