Here are some really great maps showing responses to poll questions before the 2011 federal elections in every Canadian riding:
This explains pretty much everything about how politics in Canada works. Here are some things I think are interesting:
1. Québec is different. It’s totally out of step with the rest of Canada on most questions. And in unorthodox fashion. It is way more left-wing economically while trusting government significantly less. And it’s also way more left-wing culturally while also being way more xenophobic. In a sense, when we ask why the Parti Québecois has the weird, oftentimes unpleasant agenda that they do, maybe the answer is that they’re tailoring themseleves to the political requirements of what Québeckers want
2. Another part where Québec is out of step with Canada is that it wants closer cooperation with the US. Which at first seems strange since the views of Alberta, say, are much closer to what we think of as US politics. But the difference is that Québec doesn’t define itself against the US – because it defines itself against Canada. BC is the most anti-American province by far, which might have to do with the fact that it’s probably the place where crossing the border means the least. It might also have to do with the lumber industry.
3. They went and imported a piece of Alberta into the Fraser Valley. The Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon district is apparently totally out of step with the rest of BC, but totally in step with Alberta on the environment, economics, the military, even marijuana and abortion. Why, Chilliwack, why?
4. Newfoundland hates the environment. When my friends Anya and Maria were biking through Newfoundland, they found a lot of people who work in Fort MacMurray and spend freewheelingly in their home province. This picture is consistent with Newfoundland ridings having a rosier picture of the oil sands than their neighbours. And also the oil industry at home and the decimation of the cod fishery has made Newfies less ready to support environment than anywhere outside of Alberta. At the same time, Newfoundland has been a poor province for long enough that in many other respects – like wanting stronger pensions – it is very much unlike Alberta.
5. Alberta is kinda OK with Québec separating. This is my favourite part of the survey. Alberta and Québec couldn’t be more different in terms of opinion (except wanting less immigration) but that is also exactly why they agree that they shouldn’t be in the same country. We finally don’t have to take orders from those oil baron buffoons, say Québecers. Good riddance, maybe we won’t have to support those lazy frogs, say the Albertans.
6. Unlike the US, the views of people on the environment and on social and economic issues are not strongly coupled. I already mentioned Newfoundland. Another case is BC, where some of the most pro-environment ridings are also the ones that are most economically conservative. This is a good sign that culture war politics hasn’t yet totally triumphed in Canada, and a push for a conservative environmentalism is something that can be done.
7. Similarly, the views of people on immigration and on social and economic issues are not strongly coupled. Or, at least, that coupling is reverse in Québec compared to the rest of Canada.
8. Saskatoon, Regina and Nova Scotia like immigrants. Unlike the other niche trends, I don’t know the reason behind this one. Can someone illuminate? Are there lots of new immigrants there? Or, conversely, not enough?
9. Yukon is the best. I kinda figured as much. But New Brunswick’s weird mix of social conservatism, wanting higher taxes and strong deficit concerns, was, on the other hand, a complete surprise.