Friday, July 17, 2009

Michael Ignatieff - About Time?

Michael Ignatieff represents the riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore in Toronto. That got me thinking. Who was the last Prime Minister to represent a riding in Toronto, the largest city in the country?

The answer, as far as I can tell, is William Lyon Mackenzie King, but only during his first term from 1921 to 1926. No Prime Minister since then has been elected in a Toronto riding. Toronto has had very little representation in the PMO. That is a little surprising, isn't it? Looking at the United States, the last President from their largest city, New York, is Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s and 1940s. Are North American leaders from the country's metropolis unelectable?

I thought it would be interesting to look at how long some of the major cities in Canada have been represented by a Prime Minister (roughly estimated):

Quebec City, Quebec - 24 years (Laurier, St-Laurent)
Kingston, Ontario - 19 years (MacDonald)
Montreal, Quebec - 19 years (Trudeau, Martin)
Halifax, Nova Scotia - 9 years (Borden)
Calgary, Alberta - 8 years (Bennett, Harper)
Toronto, Ontario - 5 years (King)
Vancouver, British Columbia - 1 year (Turner)

So, during roughly 60% of Canada's existence, a major city (and Kingston was a major city during MacDonald's era) has provided the country with a Prime Minister. I suppose that roughly matches our proportion of urbanisation. But one would have expected Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Winnipeg to have had their feet in the door more often.

Food for thought over the weekend.