Monday, September 21, 2009

On appointments, and Liberal women candidates: A stat breakdown

Much fuss has been made about the seeming appointment of Nathalie Le Prohon for the Liberal nomination in Outremont. Those who have defended the appointment of Le Prohon for the nomination say that is important for the party to get more female candidates in winnable ridings. Without commenting on the Coderre-Cauchon battle, I want to use it as an opportunity to examine the ideas of running more female candidates for the party, and if the party is actually putting female candidates in winnable ridings (one of the oft-heard complaints about the appointment system and any quotas, official or unofficial to get at least 33% female candidates is that women will get appointed in unwinnable ridings just to get the total number of female candidates up).

First up, the use of the appointment system. Dion did not hesitate to use the appointment system at times, with mixed results. I can't find any sort of list of candidates who in the last election were appointed directly by the leader, but off the top of my head, I do seem to think that Dion used his appointment power mostly to instal female candidates, sometimes with positive results in safe Liberal seats (such as Kirsty Duncan and Michelle Simpson) and other times not as positively (see Joan Beatty in Desnethé – Missinippi – Churchill River). Since Dion publicly called for at least 33% female candidates in his leadership platform (and exceeded that goal) lets start by taking a look at how many female candidates ran in seats that could be considered "winnable" in the 2008 election. I'm going to set the "winnable" threshold here at 15%. So here are the seats that the Liberals came within 15% of winning in 2006, with those that had female candidates in 2008 in bold:

(Note: Ridings not in order of margin)

Hamilton East – Stoney Creek
London – Fanshawe
Burnaby – Douglas
Sault Ste. Marie
Parkdale – High Park
Western Arctic
Hamilton Mountain
Trinity – Spadina
Burnaby – New Westminster
Ottawa Centre
Timmins – James Bay

Toronto – Danforth
Brossard – La Prairie
Jeanne-Le Ber
Chicoutimi – Le Fjord
Brome – Missisquoi
Vaudreuil – Soulanges

Parry Sound – Muskoka
Winnipeg South
Glengarry – Prescott – Russell
St. Catharines
Tobique – Mactaquac
Fleetwood – Port Kells
Simcoe North
Ottawa – Orléans
Kitchener – Conestoga
Ancaster – Dundas – Flamborough – Westdale
Niagara Falls
Northumberland – Quinte West
Edmonton Centre
Whitby – Oshawa
Sarnia – Lambton
St. John's South – Mount Pearl
Ottawa West – Nepean
Kildonan – St. Paul (Although Lesley Hughes was forced to withdraw, she was still the Liberal candidate at the start of the election, so I'll count it)
St. John's East
Chatham-Kent – Essex
Charleswood – St. James – Assiniboia
Port Moody – Westwood – Port Coquitlam
Haldimand – Norfolk
Lambton – Kent – Middlesex
South Shore – St. Margaret's
Saanich – Gulf Islands
Kamloops – Thompson – Cariboo
New Westminster – Coquitlam

And seats in which Liberal incumbents retired, again with ridings which ran female candidates to try and hold the ridings (which due to the incumbency, I will count all of them as "winnable")

Random—Burin—St. George's
Brampton West
Etobicoke North
Nickel Belt
Scarborough Southwest

I'm also going to include Mississauga-Streetsville in the count, due to it being a Liberal held seat before Khan crossed the floor and was defeated by woman Liberal candidate Bonnie Crombie.

So on the whole then, we have 73 "winnable" ridings without an incumbent Liberal MP running in 2008, and of that 73, the Liberal Party ran female candidates in 25 of them, so of the 73 ridings which could have been considered "winnable" for the party in 2008, 34% had female candidates in 2008, almost exactly the quota. This would indicate that the party did not, in fact, in the last election, throw loads of women into unwinnable ridings, but on the flip side, I'm going to look at some of the "lost cause" ridings from 2006, and see how many of them ran female candidates. If the percentage of women in "lost cause" ridings is significantly higher than then 34% of winnable ridings which had female candidates, then those who complain about the party offering female sacrificial lambs might have a point. In order to have valid comparisons and an equal sample size, I'll take the 73 ridings in which the Liberal Party performed the worst in terms of percentage of the vote in 2006, and again bold the ones which had female candidates in 2008.

Saint-Bruno – Saint-Hubert
Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie
Prince George – Peace River
Nanaimo – Cowichan
Beauharnois – Salaberry
Westlock – St. Paul
Fort McMurray – Athabasca
Laurentides – Labelle
Edmonton – Sherwood Park
La Pointe-de-l'Île
Montmagny – L'Islet – Kamouraska – Rivière-du-Loup
Yorkton – Melville
Abitibi – Témiscamingue
Calgary Centre-North
Calgary East
Argenteuil – Papineau – Mirabel
Kootenay – Columbia
Haute-Gaspésie – La Mitis – Matane – Matapédia (It should be noted that in this riding the performance of female candidate Nancy Charest turned this from a "no hope" riding into one of the top Liberal targets in Quebec, and Charest was one of the very first Liberal candidates to be nominated for the next election)
Bas-Richelieu – Nicolet – Bécancour
Cypress Hills – Grasslands
Vancouver Island North
Battlefords – Lloydminster
Skeena – Bulkley Valley
Longueuil – Pierre-Boucher
Laurier – Sainte-Marie
Elmwood – Transcona
Saskatoon – Rosetown – Biggar
Saint-Maurice – Champlain
Calgary Southwest
Portage – Lisgar
Chambly – Borduas
Mégantic – L'Érable
Berthier – Maskinongé
Richmond – Arthabaska
Calgary Southeast
Beauport – Limoilou
Selkirk – Interlake
Saint-Hyacinthe – Bagot
Wild Rose
Peace River
Red Deer
Terrebonne – Blainville
Montmorency – Charlevoix – Haute-Côte-Nord
Charlesbourg – Haute-Saint-Charles
Verchères – Les Patriotes
Medicine Hat
Lévis – Bellechasse
Roberval – Lac-Saint-Jean
Vegreville – Wainwright
Lotbinière – Chutes-de-la-Chaudière
Portneuf – Jacques-Cartier
Jonquière – Alma

So of the 73 ridings in which the party did worst in in 2006 (so the "least winnable") the Liberals ran female candidates in 26 of them, or 36% of the no hope seats. This would seem to indicate that the Liberals, in the last election at least, did not stack women into hopeless ridings just to boost numbers. I don't have the time to breakdown the middle 162 ridings that are between "winnable" and "no hope", but I would be surprised if the percentage of female candidates in those ridings are significantly higher or lower than the mid 30% range.

I also think it is worth noting that of the few seats the Liberals did gain at the last election (Avalon, St. John's South-Mount Pearl, Papineau, Brossard-La Prarie, Parkdale-High Park, Mississauga-Streetsville) the gender split between the victorious Liberals was 50-50, with Bonnie Crombie, Siobhan Coady, and Alexandra Mendes picking up seats for the ladies with Justin Trudeau, Scott Andrews, and Gerard Kennedy winning for the males.

So with the retrospective done, lets look forward and see how Iggy is doing. I think it is notable that in the 3 ridings (at least that are known publically) where appointments have either been done or are a fait accompli (Halton, Ahuntsic, and now Outremont) a female candidate has been named (Deborah Gillis, Noushing Eloyan, and now Nathalie De Prohon). In terms of total nominations, using Pundits Guide as a source, the Liberals have 82 nominated candidates, with 33 women, for a 40% female total, above the 33% quota. I'm going to break it down further, and examine how many nominated candidates we have in "winnable ridings" (ridings we lost by 15% or less) and how many of these nominated candidates are women. Once again, ridings with female candidates are in bold, and I'll include Outremont and Ahuntsic in these as well.



Vancouver Kingsway

Thunder Bay-Superior North

Thunder Bay-Rainy River




Haute-Gaspesie-La Mits-Matane-Matapedia


Saint Lambert




Oak Ridges-Markham

Kitchener Centre

London West

Saanich-Gulf Islands







Ottawa West-Nepean



Saint Boniface



Winnipeg South

Two special cases for this as well, Burlington was supposed to have Paddy Torsney acclaimed, but the meeting has been delayed, and Jeanne-Le Ber, a top Quebec target which is rumoured to have a star female candidate appointed ala Ahuntsic/Outremont. Anyway, the bulk of the close/"winnable" ridings have nominated candidates already, 31 by my count, and of these 31, 14 have female candidates, for an impressive 45% of nominated candidates in winnable ridings being female. That number is more impressive when you consider the 40% total for overall nominated candidates includes a number of incumbant MP's, meaning that if all these nominated candidates were successful, the total female percentage of the Liberal caucus would see a spike in female membership.

This blog post isn't designed to comment on the merits or lack thereof of appointing candidates, and female candidates in particular, but I do hope that this breakdown can eliminate the myth of Liberal female candidates being mostly sacrifical lambs, and to celebrate that the party thus far has done a decent job of providing winnable ridings for female candidates.


The Pundits' Guide said...

A very nice piece of work, LS. Congrats.

Now, to answer one of your implied questions, I didn't systematically collect data on who was appointed, who acclaimed, who won a contested nomination, etc., in the last election, but I am doing so in this one. I'm also collecting data as to the date on which each candidate was selected.

To ask you a question, was Noushing Eloyan actually appointed in Ahuntsic? I read the story as saying she was Mr. Coderre's preferred candidate, but didn't realize that had extended to an appointment as yet or that the appointment had been announced already. Did you have a reference on that?

Again, good job.

The Liberal Scarf said...

I don't believe she had offically been appointed, but is would seem, as I said in the post, to be a fait accompli.