21 April 2016

Prairie blues

On Monday, a political colour map of the Prairie provinces would have shown a blue stripe hemmed in by orange on both sides. Today, the palette shows a decidedly blue shift.

The Conservatives' impressive win over the incumbent New Democrats in Manitoba on Tuesday follows the Saskatchewan Party's victory in Saskatchewan earlier this month.

But even these two elections don't fully illustrate the conservative grip on the Prairies. Under our corrupt first-past-the-post voting system, parties commonly win elections with less than half of the popular vote. Not in these two cases. The Manitoba Conservatives won with a solid 54 per cent and the Saskatchewan Party with an almost unheard of 62 per cent. And it's worth remembering that in last year's Alberta election, conservative parties won a combined 52 per cent of the popular vote. Not much potential here for Leaping into Manifestos.

The Manitoba election leaves the Alberta NDP as the lonely progressive government on the Prairies. Indeed if we include the B.C. Liberals, who often take on a conservative hue, we might say the only progressive government in the West. Fortunately, it is a highly effective government that has pushed the progressive agenda along admirably—an optimistic orange swatch in the blue background.

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