Thursday, January 27, 2011

With a dozen MPs vulnerable, NDP faces defensive campaign

Jack Layton marked his eighth anniversary as Leader of the New Democratic Party this week. He has much to celebrate, having brought the party back to the glory days of Ed Broadbent and enjoyed a popularity rating that’s outpaced that of the last two Liberal leaders. In 2008, the NDP made breakthroughs in Newfoundland, Alberta, and Quebec and was a prorogation away from forming part of a coalition government. But Mr. Layton’s fourth campaign could be his toughest.

The full article can be read on The Globe and Mail website.

As with the other pieces I've done on the Greens and the Bloc Québécois, here is a full account of the ridings that factor in to the NDP's electoral calculus.

In general, these ridings are listed in order from most to least (secure/vulnerable/ etc.), but that was not a focus of my analysis.


St. John's East
Sackville - Eastern Shore
Acadie - Bathurst
Timmins - James Bay
Vancouver East
Windsor West
Hamilton Centre
Winnipeg Centre
Windsor - Tecumseh


Burnaby - New Westminster
Skeena - Bulkley Valley
British Columbia Southern Interior
Nickel Belt
New Westminster - Coquitlam
Nanaimo - Cowichan
Hamilton Mountain
Toronto - Danforth
London - Fanshawe
Ottawa Centre
Hamilton East - Stoney Creek
Algoma - Manitoulin - Kapuskasing
Elmwood - Transcona


Vancouver Kingsway
Sault Ste. Marie
Trinity - Spadina
Edmonton - Strathcona
Thunder Bay - Rainy River
Western Arctic
Thunder Bay - Superior North
Burnaby - Douglas


Saskatoon - Rosetown - Biggar
Surrey North
Vancouver Island North
Winnipeg North


Kamloops - Thompson - Cariboo
Nanaimo - Alberni
Parkdale - High Park
South Shore - St. Margaret's
Beaches - East York
Hull - Aylmer
Pitt Meadows - Maple Ridge - Mission
Brossard - La Prairie
St. John's South - Mount Pearl
Regina - Qu'Appelle
Fleetwood - Port Kells
Newton - North Delta
Kildonan - St. Paul
Jeanne-Le Ber
Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca
Edmonton East
Portneuf - Jacques-Cartier
Kitchener Centre
Vancouver Centre
Dartmouth - Cole Harbour
York South - Weston
Kitchener - Waterloo
Halifax West
Kingston and the Islands
London North Centre
Vancouver South
Kings - Hants


  1. Can you identify who is the primary opponent for the NDP in each riding? Since the realistic best case scenario for them is a stable coalition government together with the Libs, I would expect that their strategy would involve a stronger effort at targeting Conservative and Bloc ridings where possible.

  2. Well, I won't go into it riding by riding, but here is the breakdown of who placed second (or first for targeted and potential) by riding classification:

    SECURE: 9 CPC, 6 LPC
    TARGETED: 3 CPC, 1 LPC, 1 BQ
    POTENTIAL: 17 LPC, 16 CPC, 1 BQ, 1 IND

    So, in ridings where the NDP is playing defense their main opponent is Conservative in 19 ridings and Liberal in 17 ridings.

    In ridings where the NDP is playing offense, their main opponent is Conservative in 19 ridings, Liberal in 18 ridings, Bloc in two ridings, and an independent in one riding.

  3. Layton has done a terrific job as NDP leader, reaching electoral heights they've not seen before (the unadjusted numbers show Broadbent as more successful, but Broadbest faced a less fractured electorate and worked in a 3-party system).

    That said, I don't see a path forward for the NDP that doesn't include a collapse of Liberal support, and a collapse of Liberal support would have to be the result of a Liberal misstep. All Layton can do at this point is position his party well and hope for the best.

    But if the best doesn't happen, I don't think he'll be able to contest another election after this one (though he might not want to - it's been a long haul).

  4. St. John's East I wouldn't really consider a fortress. It's a conservative riding and the big reason why Jack Harris did so well in 2008 was becuase he was really the only candidate. The Liberals had a former minister who stile thousands of dollars from the government and the Conservatives had a super anti-Danny, plus there was the ABC. There are two potential higher profile people seeking the CPC nomination, including John Crosbie's daughter Beth. Harris should win but if the Liberals also attract a good candidate I expect Harris' vote to drop by almost half. He never use to do that well as an MHA.

    The NDP will also have a hard time in St. John's South Mount Pearl, they only did well because of ABC and Ryan Cleary. Cleary's gone and Siobhan Coady is a star.

  5. That's interesting, Eric. In both offesive and defensive ridings, the NDP's main opponent (albeit by a small margin) are the tories, not the liberals. That kind of diminishes the liberal message that a vote for the NDP will let the tories win. If anything, a vote for the liberals in those ridings would let the tories win. I wonder if the NDP will use that message.

  6. Oops, I partially withdraw my comment. I was adding fortress, secure, and vulnernable ridings when considering NDP defensive ridings on the cusp when really I should have only been looking at vulnerable.

  7. Matthew,

    I'd say the difference is really almost negligible. 7 vulnerable ridings with Liberals as the main opponents, versus 5 where the Conservatives are, though really, that should be put down to only 4, considering how close Welland really was.

    So, in other words, you should fully withdraw your comment.

  8. I doubt that Vancouver South is a potential NDP target seat or pick-up. The two provincial ridings within are Liberal (Vancouver Langara - strong Liberal; Vancouver fraserview - leans Liberal)

    VS has always been a red tory seat demographically.

    OTOH, Saanich Gulf Islands might be a potential NDP seat as the NDP picked it up once back in 1988, when the federal NDP garnered its highest vote total ever in BC at ~37%.

  9. Wow, what a timely article Eric, I just mentioned in your thread on Quebec yesterday that Jack must be getting desperate, and that a resonable deal on the budget could be reached.

    I also imagine he must be getting nervous listening to Ignatieff's rhetoric about corporate tax cuts, and hard-working (ie. blue-collar) families. That's Jack bread and butter right there.

    BTW Shadow, I left a response for you regarding federal funds for pro-sports venues down in that Quebec thread. Anyone who wants to discuss that, should probably clutter up that one instead.

    Regarding what kind of deal might be struck?

    I thought Iggy's idea about home care had some merit, but I heard something about raising the GAI for seniors instead. I like that idea better.

    I think about a billion (maybe less) will buy it. It's easy to justify, and show the "nice" PM Harper.

    Stay in power one more year. Strike next spring.

    It's good strategy. Trust me.

  10. AJR79 you mean the GIS which is the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

    (GAI refers to Guaranteed Annual Income, a policy concept writen about by Hugh Segal recently which doesn't currently exist.)

    So we have 4.3 million people who are 65+ as of 2006, more now obviously. So 1 billion on the GIS comes out to $20 bucks a month.

    Woot $20 bucks a month!

    Of course Jack also wanted an increase in CPP.

    And to remove the GST from home heating oil.

    And to revive a green version of the home renovation tax credit.

    Sorry AJR79 but your idea of making peace with the NDP would break the bank and cost far, far more than $1 billion.

    Their plan is to cancel the corporate tax cut and use that $6 billion a year for seniors.

    Wait, you're the guy complaining about a hundred million or so for an arena in Quebec ?

  11. The NDP has already made up its mind that it wants an election. The spin about waiting to look at the budget and being open to a deal is just a ploy to make Layton the centre of attention for the next month until the budget is brought down - but make no mistake about the the chances of Harper actually giving in to Layton on anything is practically nil and in fact i think that Layton's biggest fear is that Harper would actually give and leave the NDP with no excuse for voting down the government.

  12. Ira,
    Layton has done a terrific job as NDP leader, reaching electoral heights they've not seen before (the unadjusted numbers show Broadbent as more successful, but Broadbest faced a less fractured electorate and worked in a 3-party system).

    Unadjusted figures? Broadbent won more seats when the House was smaller.
    Part of the reason the electorate is more fractured is because they have defected from the NDP since the 1980s, and I think Layton has to take some responsibility for that. The Greens existed when Broadbent was around, but they had almost no support, partly because some of their current voters identified with the NDP. And the Bloc existed, too, but it ran under the guise of the Quebec Progressive Conservatives. Broadbent with his rudimentary French and no organization got 14% of the vote in Quebec, where Layton has peaked at 12%.

    I'm not saying Layton hasn't done much better than his two immediate predecessors (and maybe as well as anyone else in the NDP could do), but he hasn't achieved Broadbent's success.

  13. "Broadbent with his rudimentary French and no organization got 14% of the vote in Quebec, where Layton has peaked at 12%."

    A few things to correct. First of all, while Broadbent's French was (and is) heavily accented - he is actually very fluent and has a large vocabulary. He spoke French like Jean Chretien spoke English.

    Second of all, in 1988 the BQ did not exist at all so the NDP got 14% in an election where left-leaning Quebec nationalists had absolutely no where else to go and the ONLY choices were Liberal, PC or NDP.

    Third of all, its a totla fallacy to say that the NDP had "no organization" in Quebec under Broadbent in 1988. In fact, because the NDP had been doing very well in the polls in Quebec in 1986-87 - they actually invested millions into the campaign in Quebec that year and sent in organizers and had lots of high profile candidates. I would say that the NDP campaign in Quebec in 1988 was probably more expensive in relative terms and was better resourced than the NDP Quebec campaign was in 2008!

  14. Shadow,

    You are almost certainly right about the GIA vs. GAI.

    You do realise that this program is a form of targeted GAI thou right. Just like the working income tax benefit the CPC introduced.

    Hugh takes things too far, but negative income tax is one of the best ways possible to fight poverty.
    (See also child tax benefit)

    20 bucks a month might not seem like much to you and I, but I know my grandma would appreciate it.

    I think you are missing my overall point thou. I believe a (relatively) cheap deal can be struck with the NDP, due to their weak position.

    What is your alternative? Spit in his eye, and drive us to a $300 million election that hardly anyone wants?

    There will be no buckling on the tax cuts (nor should there be). I would suggest that throwing a small bone Layton's way, will force him to support them due to him having at least 1/3 of his caucus on the line, and Iggy flanking him on the left.

    Anything wrong with my thinking? Any better ideas of how this should go?

    BTW, it wasn't the $100 million for the QC arena that bothered me so much (although it did). It is all the other arenas/stadiums that would also have to be built if QC gets its way. It has been stated by the government (and PM Harper) that other projects would have to recieve money if Quebec City does.

    I left a longer comment about this on the other thread.

  15. DL,
    Ed Broadbent's French is nowhere near as good as Jean Chretien's English! I'm not faulting him, but Broadbent's French skills compared to Mulroney and Turner were a definite liability.

    But I suppose the point I was trying to make (poorly) is that the NDP can't blame their lack of success on the opposing parties. The socialist parties in Germany, France, and Italy all have competition from the left and right, but still attain power sometimes. After 50 years, the NDP has never done better than 3rd in Canada. Harper, for all his faults as a PM, is an excellent party leader-- he did what it took to put his party in a position to compete for power. The NDP needs to look at itself hard in the mirror and ask whether it is content to sit behind the Bloc on the opposition benches for another 50 years, or whether it would be willing to make some structural changes the way that the Reform/Canadian Alliance did.

  16. Shadow,

    I had a thought about your math, and the $20 a month.

    Not every senior qualifies for the GIA (my grandma probably doesn't, now that I think on it), so the benefit to those who do, would be greater then $20 a month.

    Food for thought.

  17. I don't know why I was calling the GIS the GIA, but in the future I will just refer to it as the GAI (for seniors)

    It's a good program anyway. The kind of social safety net I can get behind, efficient and effective.

  18. AJR79 the suppliment is nearly universal, although for immigrants it gets a bit patchy.

    Also the clawback starts around 60K I believe. (Not a lot of seniors actually make that much though.)

    However, I was using 2006 senior population figures. Since then we've had the first wave of the baby boom hit.

    So for the purpose of my back of the envelope calculation I ignored those factors.

    Anyways, i'm sure the NDP has costed out their platform.

    But I get what you're saying about them being a cheap date and not needing to spend a full 6 billion.

    I'd rather the election. Is Harper going to be in any better a position 1 year from now ? May as well get it over with.

  19. Shadow,

    I had a quick look regarding the GIS, and this is what I found.

    It could be that an election is unavoidable. I am expecting (hoping) for an austerity budget.

    I do think Harpers hand will be stronger going to the electorate if he can point and say, "The opposition claims they care about seniors, and families, but they voted down X# of dollars that would have gone directly to them"

    If Jack buckles and supports the corporate cuts, more the better. Let the Libs and Dips fight it out for the next year.

    Do I think Harper's chance at a majority will be better next year?

    With the tax cuts defacto, investment flowing in, and an improved economic outlook, next spring?... Yes I do.

    Plus, I'd rather see 2 billion pumped into programs I believe in, then one penny on naked vote buying. (which won't work very well policy-wise, or politically either, IMHO)

  20. AJR79 helping seniors is naked vote buying too.

    And there's an argument that they [seniors] have already piled up huge debt on the younger generations.

    With an inverted pyramid population model we need to be mindful of throwing around money.

    As for the politics of the NDP's proposal ? Excellent.

    Julian Fantino, our new seniors minister, should tour around old folks homes all around the GTA touting these new investments.

    Heck, make it a seniors budget.

    Have the PM play scrabble with old ladies and play the piano for them.

    Lots of ways to avoid an election, I agree. But I just don't know if waiting a year is really helpful. It gives the Liberals more time to fundraise.

    And the anger against the Liberal brand in BC/Ontario/Quebec will have dissipated with provincial elections or leader changes.

  21. "Jonny Quest said...
    I doubt that Vancouver South is a potential NDP target seat or pick-up. The two provincial ridings within are Liberal (Vancouver Langara - strong Liberal; Vancouver fraserview - leans Liberal)

    VS has always been a red tory seat demographically.

    OTOH, Saanich Gulf Islands might be a potential NDP seat as the NDP picked it up once back in 1988, when the federal NDP garnered its highest vote total ever in BC at ~37%."

    With Elizabeth May running in the riding I think that all NDP hope is lost there. When she ran in Central Nova the NDP lost 13.33% of the vote that they had gathered the election before. She will syphon off a lot of their vote making their chances there very slim


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