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

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Contrarian is, well, contrary. Good for him! Quoth he:
Unfortunately, there are methodological problems with this analysis. Prior to the last election, most rural ridings were in Tory hands, and that’s where provincial highways are located. MacLean [sic] acknowledges this, but then miscounts the rural ridings by accepting a Wikipedia definition that excludes such urban ridings as Cape Breton North (Tory), South (Liberal), and Nova (NDP), as well as Glace Bay (Liberal). There are few provincial highways*, and only one paving project, in any of these ridings.
Alrighty then. In addition to striking out the Wikipedia Halifax inset, let’s also strike the industrial Cape Breton one, which eliminates five more seats from consideration. The total for our “rural” seats held by the three parties, after the 2006 election, is now 21 Tories, 8 Dippers, and 6 Grits.

In doing this, we are also striking the (ultimately rejected) Keltic Drive proposal from consideration, which was in a Liberal-held district. Tory districts still end up being disproportionately favoured in the proposal put forward by the late Rodney government, viz.:
   A  B  C

PC 60% 74% 74%
Lib 17% 11% 11%
NDP 23% 14% 14%
Where (A) is the percentage of rural seats held by each party, (B) is the percentage share of the number of projects put forward by the Rodney government, and (C) is the percentage share of the total dollar value of those projects.

But there’s another way of looking at these numbers that should eliminate any worries about defining what’s “rural” or “urban” on the electoral map. Again, let’s just consider the seats outside industrial Cape Breton, and where Metrobuses don’t run, or at least don’t run frequently. And let’s do it with a cleverly colour-coded map:

The colours follow the traditional partisan colour scheme, with the darker, saturated tone indicating districts in which Rodney put forward highways projects, and pale tones, districts where he did not.

Turning this map back into numbers, the Rodney government proposed work in two** out of six rural Liberal districts (33%); three** out of eight rural NDP districts (38%)… and 13 out of 21 rural PC districts.

That’s 62% of them.

What you have here is the Galilean telescope of pork-barrel pavement, in which the list of “priorities” is focused through not one, but two electoral lenses; the federal one was the subject of Contrarian’s original, also cartographic, posting. In short, this all looks like a reduced-scale model of the Peckford-Crosbie Roads for Rails plan, twenty years later and one province over.

QED. Again.

* College Road in Truro, parallel to and one block south of Rte 4… is that a provincial highway?

** Or three and four, counting line-straddling projects which are mostly located in what were neighbouring PC districts.

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At 9:19 PM, July 02, 2009 , Blogger Edward Hollett said...

Wait a second.

You are in a debate of sorts with Parker Donham over Tory porkbarreling in Nova Scotia?

I mean if anything in Cape Breton is now considered "urban" then we'll have to rethink that typology in any of a number of rural areas of this province.

The people of the burgeoning metropolis of Gander will underoubtedly start rejoicing not to mention what will happen in places like Marystown.

At 1:24 PM, July 03, 2009 , Blogger Unknown said...

See here, Eddy, I don't care what you call seats with few provincial highways. Call them 'beebblefratz' if you like.

The point is that provincial paving takes place on provincial highways, and provincial highways are located disproportionately in non-bebblefratz ridings.

If you are trying to demonstrate paving bias on the part of a government whose seats are almost exclusively rural, then you need to exclude bebblefratz seats from the comparison.

Exactly which ridings -- opposition and government -- to exclude is a legitimate methodological question.

In my view, beebblefratz ridings in Industrial Cape Breton include CB North, CB South, CB Nova, CB Centre, and Glace Bay, but not CB West. All but CB West should be excluded. That list is what Labradore and I disagreed about. I haven't even looked at the ridings he included from Metro, but there are some (Waverly-Fall River-Beaverbank, Preston, Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville) that could go either way. I honestly don't know whether those ridings contain many provincial highways. I know enough about the CB ridings to venture an opinion.

Larbradore seems to have concluded that provincial paving recommendations showed moderate bias (my term, not his). I am unconvinced that the correlations he demonstrated are clear enough to fall outside a random distribution, but it's certainly enough to raise suspicions.

My original post, based on an FOI request, was whether Harper and MacKay selected projects in federal conservative ridings for approval. The answer to that was overwhelmingly yes -- like four to one.

Parker Donham

At 2:55 PM, July 03, 2009 , Blogger WJM said...

I haven't even looked at the ridings he included from Metro, but there are some (Waverly-Fall River-Beaverbank, Preston, Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville) that could go either way.

Indeed, they could: but it's pretty well academic, since none of them had any highways projects on the list, so we need not worry about whether they are rural, urban, or beeblefratz at all.

And yes, the federal end of the porkbarrel was more pronounced than the provincial end... but there WAS a provincial end of the porkbarrel. And, discounting Inverness which was a diehard provincial PC Premier's own riding embedded in a federal Liberal one, the areas where the Tories were strong provincially overlapped, not exactly, but reasonably so, with areas where they (or Bill Casey) hold (held) seats federally.

The list was very clearly focussed through two partisan lenses; one maybe more intensely so, but that's partially a function of the list the feds were given in the first place.


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