"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Monday, June 29, 2009


This corner raises a question:
How does the map of road work requested by Premier Fiddler compare to the provincial electoral map as it stood prior to dissolution?
Contrarian issues a friendly challenge:
Mr. McLean is welcome to test this hypothesis by going through the list and calculating the number of projects proposed per rural Tory riding vs. the number proposed per rural opposition riding. I’ll publish the results.
Mkay. Here you go:

Of the 37 projects put forward by the late Macdonald government in NS, five were located in Liberal districts, and five in NDP districts, based on the 2006 election results. (The list was drawn up before the recent NDP government took power in N.S.)

Twenty-six were located in districts which the Tories held, or had won in 2006.

(One project eludes classification; Trunk 1 from Prospect Street to Lakeside Drive. It looks suspiciously like Kings South, and you’d think an Acadia grad might know for sure, but no such luck. Kings County motorists are welcome to clarify.)

So, 26-5-5, or, in other words, 72% of the projects put forward by ex-Premier Fiddler were in rural PC districts, subject to the caveats below about district-straddling work. And yes, pace Contrarian:
Provincial paving, by its nature, takes place mainly in rural ridings. That’s where provincial roads are. Before June 9, Tories held most of the province’s rural constituencies, so most of the proposed projects were undoubtedly in Tory ridings.
Now, it’s a bit of an open question what constitutes urban and rural, but take, as a rough approximation, the districts which appear on Halifax inset of the Wikipedia electoral map of Nova Scotia as “urban”. Notionally classify everything else – even urban Cape Breton and the Halifax exurban fringe – as “rural”, and you have 40 seats left outside the old pre-amalgamation cities of Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford, and part of Sackville. Of those 40 districts, the Tories in 2006 won 22, the NDP ten (of which half in the Halifax fringe and industrial Cape Breton) and the Liberals eight.

So, in other words, the Tories held 55% of the rural and rural-ish seats, yet collectively represented 72% of the proposed highways projects. The N.S. Dippers held a quarter of the non-Halifax seats, and had 14% of the proposed projects. And in the Liberal column, the figures are 20% of districts, and 14% of projects.

But wait! – with apologies to the late, annoying, Billy Mays – there’s more! The Tories also win, hands-down, in terms of the gross value of the proposed highways projects. PC districts accounted collectively for 71% of that value, compared to about 14% each for Liberal and NDP districts. If the mystery project above is in Kings South, then the PC total would be bumped up by another 1.5%.

And this, even after allowing for some projects which straddle the boundaries of districts won by two different parties in 2006. One paving project is roughly 25% in Liberal Kings West, with the balance in formerly-Tory Kings South. Another seems from its description to straddle the Antigonish-Pictou county line, and has been notionally valued at 33% NDP, 67% PC. (The other straddle projects straddle two 2006 PC districts, and so make no difference to the provincial partisan totals.)

Of the projects which were finally approved, 81% of the approved project value was in Tory districts, compared to 11% for the NDP, and 8% for the Liberals.

Contrarian lays down one final friendly statistical challenge:
To show bias, one would have to demonstrate that province’s proposed infrastructure projects disproportionately favored Tory ridings like the premier’s over rural Liberal ridings like Stephen McNeil’s.
The list of proposed projects contained just one in Liberal leader McNeil’s Annapolis district. And, apart from the partial straddle noted above, this was quite conspicuously the only project on the list from the large bloc of four contiguous, solidly Liberal districts in the western end of the Valley.

Equally conspicuously, but for the opposite reason, Tory-held Inverness was good for four project proposals out of 37 province-wide. Now, admittedly, Inverness is, by Nova Scotia standards, a large district. Yet its four projects accounted for a whopping $7.6-million, or 11.3%, of the aggregate project proposal value (almost 16% among PC districts!), and 10.9% of the project approval value. Inverness, of course, was the electoral chateau-fort of former Premier Rodney Macdonald.

By way of comparison, the former PC highways minister had two projects in his district (both approved), valued at an anemic $3.6-million.



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