Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why the ballot box is a viable route for change for First Nations

With protests, hunger strikes, and the obstruction of transportation links, Canada’s first nations have forced themselves to the top of the political agenda for 2013. While their underlying concerns have deeper roots, the recent target of their ire has been the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. But Canada’s aboriginal peoples have an easier path to force change: voting.

You can read the rest of the article at The Globe and Mail website.

The article spells out why the ballot box is a viable means for Canada's aboriginal peoples to effect change in this country. They do have the size to change outcomes, and if the Idle No More movement turned its attention to electoral politics it could have a huge influence.

If the movement had been active in May 2011 and targeted its efforts to get the vote out, they could have defeated nine Conservative MPs by convincing less than one-in-four aboriginal non-voters to cast their ballot for an NDP or Liberal candidate. More broadly, as mentioned in the article, targeted efforts could have reduced the Conservatives to a minority. More hypothetically, the aboriginal population is large enough to potentially sustain an aboriginal party that could hold the balance of power in a minority parliament. By looking at the results of the last election, it is possible to see what could be possible for the movement going forward.

This was an interesting article to research. Thanks to Elections Canada, who provided me with a list of polling divisions partly or completely located on a First Nations reserve, it was possible to make an estimate of how on-reserve aboriginals voted in the last federal election. The results were not exactly surprising, but the extent to which the New Democrats dominated between Saskatchewan and Quebec was remarkable.

In fact, the national totals mentioned in this article (43% for the NDP, 37% for the Conservatives) actually disguise the size of the NDP lead in many native communities. The Conservatives' on-reserve vote was located primarily in British Columbia, where the on-reserve (or at least those who voted) population is quite high. B.C. voters represented almost half of the entire pool.

Going through the returns, I noticed that the Conservatives were competitive on or near many reserves, but when a reserve voted for the NDP they voted en masse. It was not unusually to see the New Democrats taking 80% or more of the vote in a reserve polling division. As I mention in the article, the NDP took over 90% of the vote in Attawapiskat. That pattern was repeated in many native communities, whereas it was very rare to see this level of support for the Tories in any polling division.

But the analysis I made here is somewhat hamstrung. Elections Canada included any polling division that partly contained a First Nations reserve, making no distinction between polling divisions in which the on-reserve population represented 95% of voters and those in which only a tiny portion of voters were on a reserve. They did distinguish those polling divisions located entirely on reserves, however. But without a very detailed study of each polling division (and there are 1,300+ reserves), it is impossible to know how much the sample was skewed due to it including non-First Nations voters. It was likely not skewed to a huge extent, as many reserves are located some distance from non-aboriginal populations, but I suspect that a not insignificant portion of the Conservative vote tally actually came from non-aboriginals.

The results in Quebec particularly stood out, as the Bloc Québécois managed 19% support. This is a case where much of that Bloc support probably existed in polling divisions that were partly on a reserve and partly not on a reserve, as in some locations the Bloc's vote was virtually non-existant. But discounting the Bloc's vote on reserves in Quebec entirely would be jumping to a false conclusion: there were actually a few polling divisions that were located entirely on reserves in which the Bloc took a normal chunk of the vote. This makes it difficult to assess how much of that 19% is real First Nations support and how much of it was drawn from non-aboriginal Quebecers who merely live near a reserve. Here again, the Bloc's support is likely (but not completely) inflated, pushing the NDP's proportion up even more.

Nevertheless, this analysis captures virtually every First Nations voter who lives on a reserve (but as Elections Canada points out, it is possible that some on-reserve natives were directed to polling booths off of their reserve). Might we expect aboriginals who do not live on a reserve to vote differently? That is something we do not know, but we have some indication that they may vote similarly. As mentioned in the article, an Elections Canada study found similar turnout levels between on- and off-reserve aboriginals.

There are also eight ridings with large aboriginal populations (10,000+) but few reserves: Winnipeg North, Winnipeg Centre, Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou, Western Arctic, Vancouver Island North, Prince Albert, Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, and Nunavut. On average, the NDP took 41% of the vote in these eight ridings, with the Tories taking just under 40%. Not dissimilar from the national on-reserve totals. And the NDP managed 43% or more in five of the eight ridings (and averaged 44% if we exclude Nunavut). So it stands to reason that the on-reserve estimate is probably not unrepresentative of off-reserve voting habits as well.

It will be interesting to see what political consequences the recent protests will have. Will aboriginal leaders consider the ballot box as a means for change? Will the federal parties start prioritizing First Nations issues in order to get their support? I suspect that we will be discussing these issues for quite some time to come.

62 comments:

  1. One can purely hope they do as removing the Cons is a National Necessity !!

    ReplyDelete
  2. First nations should continue their extra parliamentary efforts but these can certainly be conducted in concert with a voting effort. Kenora, and a few seats in Saskatchewan and Alberta would certainly be in play if a large First nations turnout voted NDP in a block. JKennethY

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Activism on all fronts is most effective. In fact, look how much it has taken to get native issues (back) on the national stage. The parliamentary route has been taken, in the form of Charlie Angus, who raised the issues of Kashechewan and Attiwapiskat, but it was Theresa Spence's extraordinary measures that drew full attention.

      Delete
  3. Truly fascinating. Thanks for this original and instructive analysis.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "If the movement had been active in May 2011 and targeted its efforts to get the vote out, they could have defeated nine Conservative MPs by convincing less than one-in-four aboriginal non-voters to cast their ballot for an NDP or Liberal candidate."

    I don't understand what this would accomplish, given that these issues are now on the agenda (unlike with previous governments). Also,John Ibbitson had an interesting statistic regarding the inflow of immigrants to Canada during a two year period exceding the number of peoples living on Reserves...time is not on the side of aboriginal electoral muscle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I spell out in my Globe article, reducing the Conservatives to a minority would have prevented the passing of the omnibus bills, which were the driving force behind sparking the protests. Conceivably, throwing their weight publicly behind an opposition party would encourage the party to prioritize FN issues.

      I mention the 9 MPs because it wouldn't have taken much to defeat them. To defeat the three others that would have reduced the Tories to a minority would have required a bit more work.

      Delete
  5. And just might have kept the really good thing that got destroyed by the Tories. The Kelowna A Accord !!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paul Martin did not have any money only talk for Kelowna Accord in the budget. The same,Prime Minister Paul Martin who had his Canada Shipping Co registered offshore to avoid paying govt taxes as I have to pay on my business dealings.

      Delete
    2. In two words Bull Crap

      He had a signed deal with the First Nations. Before he could present it to Parliament his Govt was defeated on a different issue. Stop drinking the CPC water !!

      Delete
    3. Too bad that the Minority Liberal govt under Paul Martin left it to the "last minute" to put the accord in place.
      Prior to 2006, Liberals won majority govts starting in 1993, 1997, 2000 and up to 2004 but didn't feel inclined to do an accord until the end of 2005.
      Liberal govts were more inclined to decrease corporate overall taxation than do anything about an Accord.
      No priority was there, sadly.

      Delete
    4. Ian

      After extensive and difficult negotiations Paul Martin's govt gets the Kelowna Accord. Seventy two hours later his Govt is defeated in the House and an election called. Martin loses and Harper proposes carrying on with Kelowna. Then Harper gets defeated, when he comes back all reference to Kelowna disappears. Tell you anything ??

      Delete
    5. The Kelowna Accord did nothing to strengthen Aboriginal rights or opportunities. It was simply throwing good money after bad. Ill conceived and frankly dangerous it would have provided bands money without increased oversight, accountability or transparency. Nor would it have improved democracy or accountability on-reserve.

      Paul Martin was willing to give money but, was unwilling to do the heavy lifting necessary to create sustainable Aboriginal governance or sign treaties.

      Some one in the Know

      Delete
  6. This is a really good analysis of an complex issue. One of the more recent examples of the clout First Nations people can demonstrate was in the victory of Peter Penashue (Conservative) in Labrador. He defeated incumbent Todd Russell (Liberal) 4,256 to 4,177 votes, a margin of only 79 votes.

    Penashue, an Innu from Sheshatshiu, dominated the two Innu communities in Labrador in 2011:

    Natuashish:
    1 (Green) 5 (NDP) 97 (Con) 8 (Lib)
    Sheshatsheits A:
    0 (Green) 1 (NDP) 79 (Con) 12 (Lib)
    Sheshatsheits B:
    1 (Green) 5 (NDP) 132 (Con) 8 (Lib)

    Compare that to the 2008 results, when Penashue was not a candidate:

    Natuashish:
    4 (Green) 20 (NDP) 7 (Con) 52 (Lib)
    Sheshatsheits:
    3 (Green) 15 (NDP) 7 (Con) 39 (Lib)

    The Conservatives run a distant third each time. Such a dramatic shift to the Conservatives in the 2011 election are notable.

    However, throw in the advance poll data from 2011, and it becomes clear how favoured Penashue was in these communities:

    Natuashish (2011 advance poll):
    0 (Green) 1 (NDP) 63 (Con) 0 (Lib)
    Sheshatsheits (2011 advance poll):
    0 (Green) 0 (NDP) 298 (Con) 9 (Lib)

    In 2008, 0 electors voted in the advance poll in Natuashish, and 9 electors voted at the advance poll in the non-reserve community of Northwest River, adjacent to Sheshatsheits. Elections Canada split that advance poll to give Sheshatsheits its own advance poll in 2011.

    Clearly, the Penashue campaign was successful in mobilizing these communities to its crushing advantage.

    (Source of data: Elections Canada OVR)

    Thanks,
    D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Penashue carried 97% in the advanced poll in his hometown, and 88% on election day. Impressive.

      What's even more "impressive" is that 56% of people who voted did so in the advanced poll, and not on election day. Don't see that very often.

      Delete
  7. Why any First Nations people would vote Tory is beyond me. false consciousness.

    George Orwell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Perhaps because they welcome the move toward individual freedoms over communal ownership. Chief Louie of the Osoyoos band has been quite outspoken about how it is the responsibility of individuals to help themselves. The Stoney band owns and operates a profitable manufacturing facility.

      Some bands do quite well for themselves, and would likely benefit from less government administration of their affairs.

      Delete
    2. During the Liberal's time in power federally they had the same approach to Aboriginals; deny and delay as long as possible so that they (Aboriginals) run out of money and drop their legal cases or acquiesce to the Government's position on negotiations.

      The Tories while admittedly not perfect have both historically and at present attempted to sign treaties and move the relationship between the Crown and Aboriginals forward.

      Gordon Campbell was arguably the most successful politicians in advancing Aboriginal rights in Canadian history. The NDP while in power signed Nisga'a Campbell signed 5 or 6 treaties and made significant progress on about a dozen more. Paul Martin offered Aboriginals a $5 billion handout. Harper and Gordon Campbell want to make Aboriginals prosperous.

      I ask you George Orwell, if the NDP and Liberals are so concerned about Aboriginal rights and if voting for them is in the "best interests" of Aboriginal people why have they done so little for Aboriginals?

      -Someone in the Know

      Delete
    3. @Someone in the Know

      I'd just point out that a lot of that progress you're talking about happened under the governments of Chretien and Martin. I do agree that Gordon Campbell deserves a lot of credit here, but given that he lead a coalition of both Liberals and Conservatives I hardly think it's fair to use him as a tool to crap all over the Liberals.

      The Conservatives have continued the BC treaty negotiation process that started under Martin and Chretien though, much to Harper's credit. So I fully agree with your point that the NDP or Liberals or anyone else shouldn't take the Aboriginal vote for granted. I just think you're overreaching a bit with the anti-Liberal polemic.

      Delete
    4. Hi Ryan,

      The treaty process started over 20 years ago in BC under Mulroney (though the larger process of Aboriginal rights and treaties have been ongoing since the 1970's). The Liberals as you point out continued the general framework but, over the next 13 years very little movement was made with the exception of Nisga'a. Martin-Chretien had political motivation for stalling-money. In the early Martin-Chretien years austerity and budget cutting made it very difficult to support the financial and fiscal implications of modern treaties.

      By the time Campbell became premier in 2001 the treaty process was almost dead. Fortunately renewed leadership and improving fiscal conditions got the process moving again.

      In the past century the Liberals were in office federally for approximately 68 years. To be kind change was incrementally small during their governments. So I think it unfair of George Orwell to insinuate only the Liberals and NDP have the best interest of Aboriginal Canadians at heart. Both parties have done surprisingly little for a constituency they purport to care about. I am not using "Campbell as a tool" to crap upon the Liberals; merely, as an example of someone with initiative in the modern treaty process.

      I am afraid I do not subscribe to the idea the BCLIberals are a Coalition. In the 1940's and '50"s there was a parliamentary coalition of Conservatives and Liberals that subsequently fell apart with the election of Social Credit in 1952. The modern BCLiberal party is not a coalition; it is a small "c" conservative party. To say the BCLiberals are a coalition is to delve into philosophy; obviously any mainstream party needs a diversity of opinion in order to attract enough voters to form government. In this sense all major parties are coalitions or brokerage parties but, not Coalitions. The federal Liberal party are constitutional monarchists but, one rarely says they are a coalition of Liberals and Conservatives or of Bay St. and monarchists. If one looks at the popular vote in BC; the BCLiberals do significantly worse in the popular vote than a true Coalition of (federal) Tories and Liberals would deliver. A true Coalition would garner close to 60% of the vote. With the exception of 2001 they have been significantly under that number. Likewise, the BCNDP usually does significantly better than their federal counterpart attracting 50% more voters than their federal cousins. One may say the BCNDP is a coalition of a diverse group of people; environmentalists, union activists, hippies, including federal Dippers but, one rarely states they are a Coalition is a formal sense.

      In any case it is mainly semantics.

      Cheers,

      Someone in the Know

      Delete
  8. Why would the Bloc vote be suspicious? The Quebec government has a better record of working with natives than the Canadian government does. It'd be no surprise to hear some first nations think an independent Quebec would help them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I seem to recall that the native vote in the 1995 referendum was 95% against, or something along those lines.

      Delete
    2. And the Bloc's vote may not be very representative, because most of the reserves in the EC data were in southern Quebec. A large number of natives live in northern Quebec, but they aren't considered to be on reserves.

      Delete
    3. The New Teddy,

      I think the record of the Government of Quebec and Aboriginals somewhat mixed. The James Bay and other Hydroelectric projects were mostly opposed by First Nations people often vigourously.

      Almost universally First Nations believe an independent Quebec is not in their interest. The fiduciary relationship between them and the Crown is not likely to continue in an independent Quebec republic. In addition the Indian Act provides status on-reserve Indians with tax exemption unlikely to be repeated within an independent Quebec.

      Finally, the amount of constitutional and case law regarding Aboriginal rights is well founded in Canada. In an independent Quebec Aboriginals would have to start from square one.

      Some one in the Know

      Delete
  9. The federal riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley is another good example of a rural riding where First Nations are able to have an impact on the vote.

    Also, It is interesting to note on a provinical level in B.C. The riding of Cariboo-South is typically held by the NDP (although always a very close race). There is a large portion of rural First nations reserves that really do matter in deciding the outcome of the riding.
    In 2009 there was a redistribution which changed to the riding to Cariboo-Chilcotin, it eliminated a few reservers out of the new riding and the NewDems lost by an extremely narrow margin. I know the NDP on the ground has been really active in the First Nations reserves and communities over the last couple of years. It will be interesting to see how this riding goes in 2013, and whether or not we will be able to tell if the larger provincial swing to the NewDems is what determines the riding or if the lighter nuances of the rural communities will still have their big impact.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Eric - Dunno if you've considered this yet, but the Musqueam, Tsawwassen and Squamish First Nations all host pretty large non-aboriginal populations on their reserves. The subdivisions and condos developed by those First Nations have become VERY affluent areas too. Even a polling division that's 100% of the Musqueam reserve would still only have 45% Aboriginal voters (assuming equal turnout, which is a big assumption.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't know that, thanks for the information.

      Delete
    2. I can also corroborate Ryan's assertions that the Musqueam, Tsawwassen, and Squamish First Nations have a high level of non-aboriginal population as well - residing in generally affluent residential subdivisions and condos.

      In fact, the Tsawwassen First Nation is in the process of adding another several thousand more non-natives in their new residential developments... which are typically on 99-year land leases.

      Another BC First Nation, Westbank First Nation (near Kelowna), has ~5,500 non-natives residing in residential subdivisions out of a total population of ~6,200.

      I'm sure that many more such examples exist in BC or will become a reality in the future.

      Eric said: "The Conservatives' on-reserve vote was located primarily in British Columbia."

      When I read that, I frankly had a hard time believing same. Sometimes, where 100% of the population situate on a First Nation are aboriginal, the NDP receives as high as 100 votes for every few votes that another party receives. The NDP solid victories in these First Nation areas are very, very lopsided in their favour.

      Delete
  11. Btw... You said, "There are at least 10 ridings (five Conservative, four NDP and one Liberal) in which the aboriginal population is large enough to elect their own candidates, if their turnout was high enough."

    I assume Nunavut and the NWT are two. Which are the other 8? I have to admit on first glance I'm pretty skeptical of the viability of such a party. If you look at New Zealand, even in the 7 100% Maori seats the Maori Party only takes 4 of them (with Labour taking 2 more and Mana taking another 1).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Labrador, Kenora, Desnethé-M-C, Yukon, Abitibi-B-J-N-E, Churchill, Skeena-BV, Winnipeg North.

      If it was easy, it would have already been done!

      Delete
    2. Hrm. The Yukon is only 25% Aboriginal, so even voting if every aboriginal person in the territory voted as a block (which I doubt. Even 80-90% is a stretch imho) I seriously doubt a hypothetical Aboriginal Peoples' Party could take the seat. Are any of the other ridings' demographics more favourable? I'd think 45%+ aboriginal voters would be a must.

      Though on the other hand, have you ever heard of the Democratic Forum of Germans in Romania? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Forum_of_Germans_in_Romania) The party started as a vehicle for representing the German minority in Romania, but it has since managed to grow and reach beyond the German ethnic community and holds the mayorship of places like Sibiu, which is only 1.1% German. Their party president (and mayor of Sibiu) Klaus Iohannis is actually a possible future President of Romania, and he came very close to being named Prime Minister. So that would support your own perspective :).

      If only we had a better electoral system that didn't suppress the emergence of new parties. I'm not sure that under a PR system an Aboriginal Peoples' Party would or should exist, but it would at least force the major parties to take aboriginal issues more seriously.

      Delete
    3. Theoretically, 25% might be enough to win if the turnout of non-aboriginals was low and the vote was split between the national parties. But some of the 10 would require perfect storms. Others are more feasible.

      Delete
    4. Ryan,

      The Canadian political system does not lack from the emergence of new parties: The CAQ in Quebec, the emergence of the NDP as a major player nationally and in Nova Scotia, the BC Conservative party, Reform, Canadian Alliance and the CPC, the Saskatchewan Party, Wildrose, the Yukon Party. None of these parties existed in their present form 25 years ago.

      A very good case can be made that FPTP encourages and fosters new parties since, 30% of the vote in 1 constituency is often all that is needed for a seat in the legislature. This would represent approximately .03% of voters.

      Delete
    5. Beauchesne - The suppression of the emergence of new parties is a known and well studied feature of FPTP. We're just lucky that our regional and linguistic divisions have pushed things in the opposite direction.

      CAQ is actually a very good example of how FPTP suppresses new parties actually. CAQ got 27% of the vote in 2012 but only 15% of the seats. Under any sort of PR system CAQ could be expected to take somewhere in the area of 34 seats instead of just 19. Québec solidaire would go from 2 seats to 7 or 8, and Option National would go from 0 to 2. Most of the other examples you have are either rebranding or merger of existing parties, not genuinely new parties. The BC Conservatives are already dead on arrival thanks to the fear of a perverse outcome due to FPTP. Don't be on them winning seats this year or being around after that. If you look federally, I think it's pretty clear that FPTP delayed the NDP's emergence as a major player by almost a decade.

      You're right that it's not so bad for parties that have their support strongly concentrated in a few ridings. Is that a good thing though? FPTP overepresented the Bloc and Reform parties while underrepresenting the NDP, Progressive Conservatives and Greens. Is the promotion of regional parties at the expense of national parties a desirable feature of an electoral system? Both Reform and Bloc took a lot of votes, and certainly deserved a lot of seats. Just not quite so many. (The same goes for the Liberals in Ontario).

      Delete
    6. Eric - That assumes every Aboriginal person would vote as a block. I highly doubt that is in fact feasible. If you're only reaching out to a quarter of the electorate in your riding I think you're pretty much dead in the water in our electoral system.

      What's the highest percentage of the vote the Bloc ever received in a riding? What's the lowest percentage of the vote a seat has been won with in Quebec (or anywhere else in Canada)? Those might be useful guides to see the limits of what's achievable in Canadian politics.

      Delete
    7. Parties have won with under 30% of the vote, I think that occurred in Gatineau in 2008.

      Yes, it would require almost a perfect voting block for aboriginals, but we are talking theoretical situations.

      But even so, imagine aboriginal turnout in a riding with 25% aboriginals was 75% (not unfeasible) while turnout among non-aboriginals was 50% (also not unfeasible).

      At that point, the 25% aboriginal electorate turns into 33% of the votes. If, say, 30% was the goal, they would need to get 90% of the aboriginal vote. From what I saw from some reserve polling divisions, that is not unbelievable.

      So, you could have 30% for the FN Party, 25% for the CPC, 22% for the NDP, 13% for the LPC, and 8% for the GPC, and you've got yourself an aboriginal MP from 25% of the electorate. Voila!

      Delete
    8. There's a lot of ifs there. Yah, Gatineau was 29%. I know Vancouver Centre was won with 31% last election, so 30% is probably a good place bar to set for the minimum vote share to win a riding.

      To be frank, I don't honestly think you will ever see aboriginal voters become 50% more likely to vote than non-aboriginal voters. Even bringing the two groups to parity would be an achievement. Factors like poverty and youth depress turnout in non-aboriginal communities too, and both factors are disproportionately present in aboriginal communities.

      Keep in mind too that 25% of residents doesn't even equate to 25% of eligible voters. The birthrate among aboriginal people in Canada is 50% higher than the Canadian average, and the median age of aboriginal Canadians is 12 years lower than the Canadian average. Simply put, a big chunk of that 25% is too young to vote.

      In terms of voting as a block, I do think it could happen. Keep in mind though that even when places like Crowfoot vote 84% Conservative, a lot of that has to do with the other parties not bothering to put resources in to such a non-competitive riding. If there's a seat that can be won with just 30% of the vote, you better bet that the other parties will all be dumping huge resources into that campaign.

      Anyways, I do think it's plausible (if not likely) in ridings where Aboriginal people constitute 35% or more of the population. I just think that 25% is a bit of a low bar.

      Do you have the %s for each of those ridings you identified? I'd be curious to see them.

      Delete
    9. When I was making the assessment of ridings, I only looked at those who would have been eligible to vote - not just the whole population.

      Obviously some of the ridings would be long-shots and would require a lot of effort and luck, but I didn't set out to see what could be done if nothing changes.

      Delete
    10. I hardly think a huge jump in Aboriginal turnout and the emergence of a new party that has the support of the overwhelming support of both on and off reserve Aboriginal people in Canada would be nothing changing.

      What were the percentage of eligible voters that identify as Aboriginal in these ridings? I'm actually just curious how many ridings there are with how large of an Aboriginal population.

      Delete
    11. I don't have the numbers in an easily transferable format. It isn't hard to calculate, though - just take 60% of the aboriginal population in each riding, according to Statistics Canada's district profiles.

      Delete
    12. Ryan,

      I don't want to beat this issue to death but, I find your assessment of PR somewhat idealistic. Almost all PR system are still basically two-party-plus systems. In Australia (preferential voting) the two main parties captured 96% of the seats last election with minor parties/ independents taking 4%. This is not fundamentally different to Canada where minor parties (BQ and Green) captured slightly less than 2% of seats. I would note in the UK 12 parties are represented in the House of Commons whereas in the German Parliament 6 parties are represented. Or in Ireland where only 8 parties are represented (the use a form of constuency PR I believe called Hale Clark) . Even the Lower House of the Dutch parliament which has true PR has only 11 groups represented. The Knesset which also uses true PR only 13 parties are represented. South Africa also 13 parties in their lower house.

      So while FPTP may under-represent minor parties it does not suppress them. FPTP is very capable of allowing minor parties to enter Parliament or a Legislature and has as good a track record as many PR systems.

      The question of regional parties v. national parties is a very interesting one. At base I have always been of the belief that the people are always right. However, that does not mean their choice(s)are necessarily in the best interests of Canada. I do think having a regional or local option is important and beneficial for Canadians. Canada is a large and diverse country and I find it quite natural that some localised electoral outcomes would occur. I would point out that although PR may create more "national" parties it may be a false dichotomy since, regional variations are still likely to occur. In PR a party may still have a regional base.

      I do not think FPTP delayed the NDP surge so to speak. If anything the localised result of FPTP is responsible for their current seat totals-however, I feel the major criterion was Layton. It was strange so little attention had been paid to Quebec by the NDP in the last 50 years. I feel they could have done much better sooner had they concentrated on strategic localised outcomes.

      In any case this is an interesting debate. Please feel free to respond. Unfortunately, I will not be able to write back until Monday.

      Cheers,

      Beauchesne

      Delete
  12. The Canadian election survey included a question on aboriginal status. The breakdown for Metis, First Nations and Inuit voters was:
    NDP: 51.5%
    CPC: 15.6%
    LPC: 11.1%
    BQ: 4.3%
    Green: 4.5%

    However I caution that there were only about 60 aboriginals in the survey, even lumping Metis, First Nations and Inuit together. I also note that the Tories did much better among Metis (who would mostly be off-reserve) than among First nations voters (many of whom also live off-reserve).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A sample of 60 is not too informative, but it seems to be broadly in the right direction.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous15 January, 2013 19:43 that is a good thought.

      I used the CES too but since it's a pannel I thought it'd be interesting to see if I could increase the sample a bit. The Metis, First Nations and Inuit quesion was asked in 2008 as well as 2011. So I managed to add some more cases by combining the two responses. I then took a quick look at each person for the most recent election we had data on how they voted. So this combines data from a bunch of election, it's a bit messy but it told a similar story. The sample size for Metis, First Nations and Inuit repsondents was 120 and the result:
      NDP 45.0%
      CPC: 22.5%
      LPC: 20.0%
      BQ: 4.2%
      Green: 8.3%




      Delete
    3. It's also worth noting if I look at the 'Did not vote' in the last election the number of First Nations, Metis or Inuit who said they did not vote in the last election for which I have data is double the number of everyone else in the sample.

      Delete
  13. Curious how much though you put into Maori style seats for Canada? I've done a bit of thinking on this myself, but was always confronted when drawing riding boundaries with the problem that some FN groups won't want to be lumped in with others.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sometimes a social movement is the best way for social change. While I do not support all aspects of the Idle No More movement, it did bring First Nation issues to national attention.

    No doubt the Harper government is looking at this situation carefully and with calculations. I think they will make some token policies that would favour First Nations people and also tone down the anti-environmental rhetoric that was witnessed since the Tories won a majority. I think Harper's original plan was to govern to the right for the first two years in the majority and move a little closer to the centre in the last two years once he shakes up his cabinet.

    The NDP and Liberals would be looking at this situation carefully too. First Nations support won't make or break either party, but I do think they will take their issues to consideration as it does not contract their ideology or potential governing style.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The GeoServices guys at Elections Canada are terrific at giving you all the data you ask for, but it's not always data that's easy to use.

    ReplyDelete
  16. When is somebody going to point out that the voter turnout of on reserve aboriginal people is extremely low. Last provincial election 10% of Attawapiskat voters bothered to vote. (and those are from the registered voter list) This is not encouraging.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Um, I'm pretty sure I did in my article. Federal turnout was about 30% in Attawapiskat.

      Delete
    2. Appart from voter turnoug being one of the main themes Eric's article I mentioned it too in the comments:
      "the number of First Nations, Metis or Inuit who said they did not vote in the last election for which I have data is double the number of everyone else in the sample."

      Delete
  17. So this is why the ballot box is probably a bad way for aboriginals to go:
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canadians-attitudes-hardening-on-aboriginal-issues-new-poll/article7408516/

    Much of the Canadian public is, if anything, more extreme than Harper on this issue. 60% believe that problems on reserves are largely brought on by natives themselves, and only 27% believe chiefs manage their money well. There is 81% support for audits before spending more money. Spence, with a 29% approval rating, is a terrible spokeswoman for the movement as well.

    The best way for aboriginals to achieve their objectives is to do so quietly, by working with elites. Establishing relationships with senior civil servants, cabinet ministers and the relevant epistemic communities.

    The more salient aboriginal issues are, the more the Conservatives (and indeed the other parties) will be encouraged to take a stance on-side with the median voter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just because the average person feels a certain way on an issue doesn't mean that that issue is their priority. How many of those 60% vote primarily based on a party's position on Aboriginal issues? I doubt very many. Of the 2% of Canadians of Aboriginal descent, how many consider Aboriginal issues their most important issue? Probably a pretty decent chunk. If people agree with you on 9/10 issues but that other 1 is the one they really care about, they won't vote for you. Ask the Liberals.

      Delete
    2. You're right that there are differences in issue salience between aboriginals and non-aboriginals (indeed aboriginal issues are probably not priorities for non-reserve FN folks or Metis).

      But the risk of a very public campaign (like Idle No More, or like Spence's hunger strike) is that it raises the salience of aboriginal issues for non-aboriginal voters.

      Even if only 4% of non-aboriginals shift to listing aboriginal issues as their top priority, that could make the difference in a lot of ridings.

      On the flipside, on-reserve aboriginal voters are unlikely to be electorally decisive because:
      A. many reserves are in solid ridings.
      B. the on-reserve vote is already solidly for the NDP in many cases.

      Delete
    3. That's true. I wouldn't advocate for using Idle No More's rhetoric or tactics either. I do think there is room for more nuanced forms of advocacy that do not risk such a backlash though.

      Delete
    4. The Aboriginal population in Canada is approximately 1.4 million and may be closer to 6-7% of the population

      Someone in the Know

      Delete
    5. The last census in 2006 put the aboriginal population at just under 1.2 million. With an estimated national population of 35 million in Canada right now, the aboriginal population would need to be 2.1-2.5 million strong to represent 6% to 7%.

      Delete
    6. That is quite true Eric, however, there is strong reason to believe under-reporting occurs within the Aboriginal population; hence, "may be closer".

      The numbers I have from the 2006 census are different: 1.3 million representing 3.9% of the population from; http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/111207/dq111207a-eng.htm


      SITK

      Delete
  18. If you thought the gun registry was an electoral loser for the NDP and Liberals (and it was) can you imagine if the Liberals/NDP had to declare that they personally supported the Paul Martin Kelowna accord concept.... a multi-Billion dollar give away to First Nations with no accountablity...........OMG!!

    If that were to play out there would have to be an actual new coalition party that so many leftist dream of as both the Liberals and NDP would be reduced to rump parties.

    The CPC is just so political far ahead of the other parties it is scary.... Right now,at what should be their lowest point of support in their 5 year Mandate they would win another Majority..... based on latest the polls being as accurate as they were the few weeks before the last 2 election election.

    If Chretien were PM he would force yet another election tomorrow so he capitalize on this issue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chretien never called an election during another party's leadership race.

      Delete
  19. Why the assumption that natives won't vote Bloc?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In Quebec, First Nations have been staunchly federalist. This is more a reaction to the Government of Quebec and their treatment of Aboriginal issues than political philosophy. FNs in Quebec believe they are better off having a relationship with the Crown (Canada)than an independent Quebec republic, although in recent years much progress was made between Quebec and Aboriginals most notably the Inuit of Northern Quebec. Much bad blood was spilled by the James bay hydroelectric project.

      From a more philosophical stand point an independent Quebec has little room to include Aboriginals. Their claim to self-determination is based upon nationalistic ideals. The fact Aboriginals have prior claim to the land does not fit with the claim of self-determination and puts the Quebecois' right of self-determination into doubt. Some argue this could be solved by simply partitioning Quebec but, such an outcome would put severe economic strain upon Quebec's coffers and would not resolve legal issues surrounding the more populous areas of the Province.

      Delete

COMMENT MODERATION POLICY - Please be respectful when commenting. If choosing to remain anonymous, please sign your comment with some sort of pseudonym to avoid confusion. Please do not use any derogatory terms for fellow commenters, parties, or politicians. Inflammatory and overly partisan comments will not be posted. Please keep discussion on topic.