So now it’s (semi) official. I read it in the Globe and Mail. Ontario is to gain 21 electoral districts in the re-distribution of seats due to population changes. There will undoubtedly be howls of protest across the country, but I will refer those interested in the facts about the issue to check out this link. It basically summarizes the supreme court rulings, and the nuts and bolts of re-districting. For Green Party of Canada activists, and organizers, the question immediately rises to the forefront. How will this impact our electoral chances? I cannot answer categorically, because the answer will lie in the gory details, but here’s a quick look at the details that will have the most impact.
In Toronto, the outlying districts have the most coherent concentrations of Conservative voters. These ED’s could possibly be crafted to return one Conservative plurality. The downtown ridings are a write-off for the Conservatives. The Conservatives have a definite interest in splitting districts around the perimeter of the city. My guess is that they will create one more Toronto ED, based upon population growth, and an average population of 105,000 per ED in Ontario. I am not as familiar with the other Ontario Cities, but I assume that a similar calculus will come into play.
Rural Ontario will not change very much, but suburbia will get a lot of new ridings. The implication for the GPC is that a positive message promoting stronger transit, and commuter links will have a very positive impact on our electoral outcomes in suburban Ontario.
For the Green Party, those ridings where they have concentrated pockets of support will benefit. This includes most ridings which have active EDA’s, that focus their resources during elections. In the case of Bruce Grey Owen Sound, and Guelph, the new boundaries should be very closely scrutinised. These ridings both have relatively high levels of support, and boundary changes could make either, or both quite winnable in the next election. Because most EDA’s have focused their efforts on a small part of their riding, you can expect that those new ridings that contain these target polls will gain on average 1%-2% on a per riding basis. This will tip the balance for many EDA’s over the 10% threshold to receive a rebate of 60% of their election expenses. That will have a nice impact on subsequent elections.
The most important factor will be how well the GPC meets the challenge of organizing 21 new EDA’s. We mustn’t forget that Alberta will see 5, and BC will see 7 new ridings added, and these will have a pretty big impact on the GPC’s electoral prospects also. BC could break out with one or two winnable ridings as well, so I can only hope that the GPC notes well it’s opportunities, and allocates resources accordingly.
As usual, the most important factor will be how many members, and volunteers the GPC can recruit before, and after these changes come into effect. Because many EDA’s are at, or below a critical mass of volunteers, further dilution will see many EDA’s shrink to something too small to do much of anything. The GPC simply must refocus efforts on recruiting, and organizing the membership.
If you want to have a lot of fun, working with people who love their country, and are prepared to sacrifice their time, effort, and money to make a real difference, I encourage you to Join the Green Party NOW!