Mapping the results of the 2018 Ontario provincial election

Some of you may be up to more interesting things on the Victoria Day long weekend, but given that we’re into the most important period of a provincial election in Ontario at the moment – I thought I’d take some time and mash-up, clean-up, and mark-up data from Elections Ontario of the last provincial election to give us some important historical context for the vote coming up on June 2nd.

Jump in and explore the mapping tool I built.

The results of the 2018 Ontario provincial election

As with my previous mapping efforts, I’m sharing these as a non-partisan resource for all political volunteers who find a lot of use for political maps in campaign offices. If you appreciate that effort, write a nice tweet about the project, or better yet blog about it – if you still do that kind of thing.

The 2018 provincial election saw the end of the 19-year Ontario Liberal dynasty with the election of the newly-minted Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford after the dramatic ouster of Patrick Brown from the job just months earlier. Ford won a majority government in 2018 and is now looking to increase his seat total in this year’s contest.

Patrick Brown’s former riding of Simcoe North was easily retained by the PCs in 2018

Ford struggled – as all government leaders did – with administration during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve just seen Alberta Premier Jason Kenney fall to populist discontent within his own party due to his own balancing of individual liberties versus public health during the crisis. Ford has faced similar criticism but looks to have wealthered the storm. Calling an election during a downtime in COVID cycles – and as Ontarians are off to the cottage – will likely see Ford return to the Premier’s Office when all of the votes are counted. We’re also expecting lower-than-usual voter turnout which usually favours incumbents.

Premier Doug Ford won the riding of Etobicoke North

As I’ve mentioned, the Ontario Liberals were wiped-out in 2018, being reduced to 7 seats. Putting the results on the map shows us their Toronto and Ottawa urban strongholds and where they may seek to increase their totals this year with their new leader Steven Del Duca.

The Liberal electoral map in Toronto looked quite different in 2018

Over on team-orange, this is NDP leader Andrea Horwath’s fourth election as head of her party. With falling Liberal fortunes in 2018, the Ontario NDP more than doubled their seats to 40. The riding distribution shows NDP strength in Toronto, Kingston, London, Niagara region, and Windsor.

The NDP won every poll in London–Fanshawe in 2018. Seeing the NDP win every poll in a riding is a rare sight.

Organized labour could also be a factor in redrawing the map. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton’s work in his portfolio has split up Progressives and the dreaded Working Families Coalition. Many of the founding members of the coalition – including the Ontario Pipe Trades Council, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers – have endorsed the re-election of Progressive Conservatives and a refreshed mandate for Ford as Premier.

Monte McNaughton’s won the riding of Lambton—Kent—Middlesex. The NDP won one poll on the western edge of the riding

By most accounts, Green Party leader Mike Schreiner impressed the province during the Ontario Leaders debate. His opposition to highway 413 and greenbelt issues may translate into additional seats for the Greens. With a split on the left between Liberal and NDP support, we could see Ontario progressives rally with strong green representation in some ridings. However, it’s more likely that this will clear the way for additional Progressive Conservative gains.

Green Party leader Mike Schreiner won Guelph in 2018. Here, his strength in the riding is mapped by poll from maximum (green) to minimum strength (red)
Schreiner won most of the polls

I’ve mapped out areas of strength in each riding for each candidate that ran in 2018. Whether your party was successful or not in your local riding, you can see where it’s strength is growing or declining and these maps can help you focus on neighbourhoods where you can get out the vote. Whether you’re actively campaigning or not, you can also use these maps to see the distribution of party strength geographically within a riding using these strength/weakness settings for the poll-by-poll maps. How did your neighbours vote? Find out!

The NDP carried the riding of Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas in 2018. You can see their urban vs rural strength mapped here.

There’s a search bar at the top of the app as well so you can easily zoom around the province if you know the riding you want to look at but can’t exactly remember its geospatial position. Future updates will include a method to jump around to neighbouring ridings and to look at the results of previous Ontario elections in context. I’ve already added these features to my federal maps, so do check those out as well if you believe that the 2021 federal election provides some helpful context for this current provicial election.

The many minds of Kingston and the Islands. CFB Kingston is to the east, Queen’s University and the Prisons are to the West and the Liberal cottages are on the nicer part of Wolfe Island

Hopefully you find this to be a useful resource if you’re colouring in maps in a campaign office, or if you just can’t get enough of Canadian politics. If you are neither, I hope you’ll still find the visualization of Ontario electoral politics to give you some bearings on the priorities of your community.

So give the map database a try and geolocate your vote!

Aline Chrétien has died

Aline Chrétien, the wife of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has died at the age of 86. Chrétien was an audidact, having spoken five languages and teaching herself piano in her 50s. Like her husband, she could also handle herself, defending the Prime Minsiter’s life at 24 Sussex when a knife-wielding intruder broke into the official residence; Chrétein wielded an Inuit stone carving until the RCMP arrived.

Tributes from across the political spectrum have been posted today to honour the life of the partner of Canada’s 20th Prime Minister.

Warren Kinsella is one of Jean Chretien greatest defenders and has a touching blog post about his memories of Aline.

In the thirty-plus years I have worked for him and supported him – because I have never really stopped doing either – there has been always one truth about Jean Chretien, Canada’s twentieth and best Prime Minister: he would have never been Prime Minister without her.  He would have never achieved the great things he achieved without her.

But she loved people, and people loved her.

Warren Kinsella

Former Harper minister and current Alberta Premier also memorialized Aline Chrétien.

Former Primer Minister Stephen Harper and his spouse Laureen Harper sent their condolences.

Kathleen Monk was a CTV producer and is now an NDP strategist and public affairs consultant at Earnscliffe. She remembers the ‘remarkable’ nature of Aline Chrétien.

Our sincere condolences to the Chrétien family and those who are grieving today.

Could Alison Redford be the next Trudeau minister from Alberta?

Justin Trudeau has a problem on his hands. The Liberal caucus that formed a majority government in 2015 for Trudeau has been reduced to a minority. The new distribution of seats has exposed troublesome regional divisions in Canada. The separatist Bloc is back in Quebec, while Alberta and Saskatchewan formed its own block of Conservative seats, save one lone NDP MP.

The prime minister faces the prospect of forming cabinet without regional representation in either Western province. With such regional divides and alienation rising, this is an issue that Trudeau cannot ignore.

There are a few options that have been bandied about in the establishment press about how Trudeau can begin to address the resentment felt by these two Western provinces. Some have been tone-deaf, and most have been poor ideas. From opposition MPs, Senators, or even former Premiers, what will Trudeau do?

Floor crossing or outsourcing?

In the end, Mr. Trudeau will need lone Alberta NDP MP Heather McPherson to cross the floor, or he will need to appoint an unelected Canadian into his cabinet. The federal NDP agenda is antogonistic to Western Canadians who voted for the development of energy projects and thus would be a non-starter. Prime ministers have appointed unelected Canadians to serve in ministries before. Stephane Dion and Pierre Pettigrew were initially unelected members of cabinet in Paul Martin’s government.

Ralph Goodale’s name has been offered up. The stalwart Liberal who was a sure-thing for Liberal cabinet makers finally went down in defeat on October 21st. His appointment to cabinet would ignore the outright rejection of a Trudeau mandate on the prairies. Goodale’s appointment wouldn’t be a surprise, however his presence would do little to stem the tide of resentment in this part of Canada.

Surely, not the non-partisan Senate!

Trudeau will also find it difficult to appoint a Senator to his cabinet. Though Stephen Harper appointed Senator Michael Fortier to the 28th ministry in order to reflect Montreal representation in his government, Trudeau has made a large show of the ‘non-partisan’ nature of the Senate. An appointment from the Upper Chamber to the government would shred the rest of his credibility on this file.

That brings us to an uncoventional appointment which would satisfy regional representation and complicate matters advantageously for Trudeau.

Red, Redder, Redford

Allison Redford is the former Premier of Alberta. She is seen by the central Canadian establishment as a ‘Tolerable Tory’ and the kind of ‘Conservative’ that Albertans should be sending to Ottawa. Of course, Albertans disagree. Redford’s popularity in that province plumetted to 18% after a series of entitlement and travel scandals, before she faced a caucus revolt and was forced to resign.

However, to those that matter to Trudeau, the prime minister would sell such an appointment as ‘reaching across the aisle’ and to bridge the divide between Ottawa and the West.

Redford would jump at the chance

For Redford’s part, she would say yes to such an appointment. Having felt unceremoniously spurned by a province that rejected her, Redford has been re-emerging in media and has been spotted testing the waters on re-establishing the esteemed reputation of an ’eminent Canadian’ among the Laurentian consensus.

Alison Redford
Alison Redford during governing times

Redford has indicated that she is willing to help the Trudeau government in an advisory capacity. Redford told CTV News, “I am happy to help in any way. This is something Canadians have been thinking about for a long time and I think the key is that there has to be a lot of voices at the table.” She added, “If there’s something I can do, I’m happy to help.”

Kenney conundrum

Redford’s appointment would be a fly in the ointment to the current Premier, Jason Kenney. Though 95% of PC and Wildrose members voted for merger that Kenney orchestrated, many saw the outcome as a Wildrose takeover by the PC party.

Kenney is wildly popular in the province, especially as the province wars against another Trudeau. As a former PC Premier, Redford could be a complicating factor for Kenney. This would be especially true if Redford were appointed to the post of Minister of Natural Resources.

Despite her reputational damage, the gravitas of a former Premier in Trudeau’s cabinet would put up an Albertan dissenter and appellative equal versus Mr. Kenney.

The 44th General election

Let’s not forget that with this minority Parliament, we could be back into an election soon. The longer that western alienation is left to fester, the more the ballot question will become about who is best suited to address regional anger and unite the country.

Liberals have had poor showings in Alberta for so long that we can easily say that they are traditionally unpopular in that province. A party cannot credibly govern a country if it has a deep-rooted antagonistic relationship with a significant portion of it.

For the Liberal Party of Canada, either the future looks like more of the same with an aloof attitude toward the West, or that party’s unsustainable track is addressed and they finally produce a plan for allowing Alberta to play to its economic strengths.

Would Alison Redford be the awkward beginning of such outreach to the West? We remain highly skeptical of her benefit to Alberta and to Canadian unity, but it certainly would do more for Trudeau’s cabinet recalculation than adding with zeroes.