Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Numbers don't lie: Tories doing pork-barrel politics in Nova Scotia and beyond


It should come as no shock that the Chronicle Herald is reporting that in Nova Scotia, stimulus money is pouring overwhelmingly into Tory held ridings:

More money — $162 million — is being spent in those three Tory ridings than in Nova Scotia’s other eight ridings put together...Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s riding of Central Nova is the big winner, with $87.7 million in stimulus money, 13 times as much as the $6.6 million being spent in Dartmouth, held by a Liberal. In fact, Mr. MacKay’s riding received more money than all five Liberal ridings in the province combined...

If the $322 million in federal stimulus funding so far announced were divided evenly among Nova Scotia’s 11 federal ridings, each riding would get $29 million. Central Nova is receiving about three times that much, while Dartmouth has received only a fourth of that amount...

The metro Halifax ridings — which lacked Conservative representation at either the federal or provincial level — got the smallest amounts of money, except for Halifax, which benefited from university infrastructure spending...

And further down the line:

Two large funding commitments in Tory ridings weren’t added to the list because they were not made under the Economic Action Plan. They are $66 million in funding for CFB Greenwood, including a new recreation centre, in Conservative MP Greg Kerr’s riding of West Nova, and $12 million for a new recreation centre in Pictou County, in Mr. MacKay’s riding...

Several similar projects in opposition-held ridings have been unable to get federal money even though they, unlike the Pictou County centre, have firm funding commitments from the provincial and municipal governments.

One of the Tory talking points when confronted with objective facts that money is flowing more into Tory held ridings is that Tory ridings tend have higher unemployment, so they need more funding.

Of course, the information gathered by the Chronicle Herald and census data clash with this. According to Pundits' Gude, the riding in Nova Scotia with the highest unemployment rate is Syndey-Victoria, a Liberal held riding, yet it has collected barely 1/3rd of the money that Central Nova, the seat of cabinet minister Peter MacKay has, $33 million compared with $83 million, despite having the 8th highest unemployment rate in the country. Going down the list, the riding with the second highest unemployment rate, and thus according to the Tory talking point, the most deserving of funding, is Cape Breton-Casnio, with the 10th highest unemployment rate, yet it has, according to the Chronicle Herald, received a relatively paltry $18 million. West Nova, a Tory held riding with an unemployment rate over 4 points lower than Cape Breton-Casnio, has received $41 million.

Here are some province-wide numbers, again using Pundits' Guide:

Average unemployment rate in Liberal ridings in Nova Scotia: 10.5%

Average unemployment rate in Conservative ridings in Nova Scotia: 10.4%

So as you can see, Liberal and Conservative ridings on average have virtual the same unemployment rate. Lets compare that to the number of projects on average in Liberal vs. Tory ridings, and the amount of spending calculated by the Chronicle Herald:

Average number of projects and spending in Liberal held ridings in Nova Scotia: 18, and $16 million

Average number of projects and spending in Conservative held ridings in Nova Scotia: 38 and $54 million

This extends beyond Nova Scotia obviously. According to the Status of Infrastructure Funding Report by Gerard Kennedy, in Ontario, of 10 ridings which recieved the most funding, 6 were Tory held, and 5 of those 6 were held by either cabinet ministers of the Parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister. Indeed, Carleton-Mississipi Mills, home of cabinet minister Gordon O' Connor recieved more money than the Liberal held Mississauga East-Cooksville, despite Mississauga East-Cooksville having an unemployment rate almost twice as high. Tory arguments that Tory ridings get more funding on average because of they are larger and rural and need more money are also debunked, as the Tory held riding of Oakville, a suburban riding of 83 square km, got $10 million more than Liberal held Guelph a demographically similar riding at 92 square km. It's also worth noting that the different between Guelph's and Oakville's unemployment rate is 0.2%. Additionally, John Baird's suburban Ottawa West-Nepean district of 88 square km got almost as much spending as Guelph, despite OW-N having almost half the unemployment rate as Guelph.

The numbers don't lie: If you don't live in a blue riding, Stephen Harper just doesn't care.

1 comment:

Mark McLaughlin said...

Actually, numbers lie all the time. I think Mark Twain had a quote about it. I think it went something like "Lies, damned lies and statistics."

I'm being cheeky though.

What we don't know is how much money was applied for in which ridings, and what percentage was approved. It could be as simple as the larger $$ projects were applied for in Con ridings. If nobody asks for it, they won't get it.

It's absolutely possible that Con ridings are getting more money, and that it's done deliberatly that way for political reasons. Cherry picking Nova Scotia and their handful of seats as a proxy for the whole country might be a bit of a stretch though.

I doubt it's going to help the opposition much to point out that if you elect Cons, you get more scratch. Voters might believe you and do the unthinkable, elect more Cons so that they get more scratch.