Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Labrador by-election

Labrador holds the distinction of having the smallest population of any riding in Canada with only 26,728 people in the 2011 census.   This is lower than all three territories and all four PEI seats.

Labrador is not one place but really several rather disconnected locations.  Labrador City and Wabush  together they represent about a 1/3 of the population in the riding and are more than 500 kilometers from Happy Valley - Goose Bay which has 28% of the population.   The remaining 38% of the people are spread out over a number of small communities along the coastline no closer than 330 kilometers from Happy Valley-Goose Bay.  At least the Trans-Labrador highway exists now.

What this means is that there are very different populations that have no real reason to be in a single riding and therefore it is hard to find an individual that is well known in all the areas.

Elect   Liberals    Cons 2004-11   NDP         Greens    Other
                   PC 1988-2000
2011   4,177 39.07% 4,256 39.81%  2,120 19.83% 139 1.30%
2008   5,426 70.28%   615  7.97%  1,378 17.85% 302 3.91%
2006   5,768 50.53% 4,528 39.67%  1,037  9.08%  82 0.72%
2005By 5,438 51.48% 3,415 32.33%  1,045  9.89%  68 0.64% 598  5.66% Ind
2004   5,524 62.23% 1,400 15.77%    856  9.64% 178 2.01% 919 10.35% Ind 
2000   7,153 68.99% 1,254 12.09%  1,284 12.38%           677  6.53% CA
1997   6,182 50.62%   842  6.89%  4,615 37.79%           573  4.89% Ref
1996By 4,032 40.47%   867  8.70%  1,974 19.81%         3,027 30.38% Ref
1993   8,724 77.11% 2,146 18.97%    444  3.92%
1988   7,126 53.50% 4,400 33.03%  1,508 11.32%           286  2.15% Ind
Before 1988 Labrador was part of a riding with areas on the island of Newfoundland

Provincial Election results for the four Labrador seats - NDP only ran in two of the four seats in 1999-2007
Elect  Liberals          PCs       NDP          Labrador Party
2011  3,383 31.48%  4,741 44.12%  2,622 24.40%
2007  4,299 34.91%  5,910 48.00%  1,995 16.20%   109  0.89%
2003  3,997 30.22%  4,074 30.81%  2,762 20.88% 2,392 18.09%
1999  7,327 58.30%  2,307 18.23%  3,023 23.88%

The NDP has done well in two of the ridings on the provincial level.  They won Labrador West, the area with Labrador City and Wabush, in 1984, 1999, and 2003 and were competitive there in 2007 and 2011.  In Lake Melville, the riding with Happy Valley-Goose Bay they were a competitive second in 2011.

Peter Penashue, the recently resigned Conservative MP, is from an Innu community.  Liberal Todd Russell, MP from 2005 to 2011, is of Inuit decent.  Neither one of them comes from the two largest population centres in Labrador.     The Liberal MP from 1996 to 2004, Lawrence O'Brien, was a former town councilor from Happy Valley-Goose Bay.   Lawrence O'Brien was the first MP to come from Labrador, before his time the riding was one that spanned the Strait of Belle Isle and the MPs all came from the Island of Newfoundland.

So where does this all leave us in looking at what may happen in the by-election?

  1. The Liberals should win this, they should not have lost it i n2011, but I am not sure how well organized they are or if they have a good candidate in mind.  If I were the Liberals I would try to entice former Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones to run.  I think it would be mistake for them to run former MP Todd Russell again.   This by-election could very likely happen during a Trudeau honeymoon which would boost the Liberal's chances of winning.
  2. The Conservatives are not out but much depends on who the candidate is - as I understand it at the moment Peter Penashue may not be the candidate.
  3. The NDP is not dead in Labrador and a strong candidate coming from Labrador City could possible win this seat for them.   
  4. Can the Greens have an impact?   I am not sure about that, they would have to choose their issues well and mange to recruit someone with some standing in the area.  


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