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crunching numbers

A voter casts his ballot for the federal election at a polling station in Ottawa on May 2 , 2011.FRED CHARTRAND/The Canadian Press

If you live in a Conservative riding, you are probably richer than the average Canadian and an anglophone. If a New Democrat is your MP, you are probably a francophone in Quebec. And if your riding voted Liberal on May 2nd, there is a good chance that you are a visible minority and/or university educated.

These are the results of an analysis of the average demographic profile of ridings held by the three main federal parties.

Of the three parties, the Conservative caucus is the one based most in the West and Ontario, while the New Democrats are most represented by Quebeckers and the Liberals by Atlantic Canadians. While the Liberals are the least Western-based party, the Conservative majority government finds the smallest proportion of its seats in Quebec while the New Democratic caucus has the smallest proportion of Ontario and Atlantic Canadian contingents of the three parties.

The NDP constituency, at 40.2 years, is the oldest of the three, with Canadians represented by Conservatives being the youngest at 39.3 years. The Conservatives have the highest proportion of male constituents, while the Liberals have a higher percentage of women in their ridings than the other parties.

With a median household income of $60,000 per year, Conservative constituents are richer than their Liberal and NDP counterparts, who have a median household income of $49,000 per year.

Linguistically, the Conservatives have the highest proportion of anglophones (72.4 per cent), the New Democrats have the most francophone constituency (51.1 per cent), and the Liberals have the largest proportion of Canadians with a mother tongue other than French or English (30.3 per cent).

Accordingly, the Liberal constituency is most ethnically diverse, while that of the NDP is the least. It is the same situation in terms of the party that represents the most highly educated Canadians.

Taken together, this provides a picture of what the constituency for each party looks like.

The Conservative constituency lives west of Quebec, is younger, more male, richer, more English-speaking, and includes more aboriginals than that of the two main opposition parties. The New Democratic constituency is based in Quebec and is older and more francophone, while the Liberal constituency is based in Atlantic Canada, and is more female, ethnically diverse, and educated than that of the other parties.

But which party represents the most Canadians within each geographic and demographic group?

On May 2, the Conservatives captured 39.6 per cent of the popular vote. That delivered 166 seats into their hands and the Tories now represent 56.1 per cent of the population. The New Democrats, who had 30.6 per cent support, represent 32.5 per cent of Canadians while the Liberals represent only 9.9 per cent of the country, though they took 18.9 per cent of the vote.

The Bloc Québécois represents 1.1 per cent of Canadians, while with their one seat the Greens represent 0.4 per cent of the population. Respectively, the two parties took 6 and 3.9 per cent of the national vote.

Regionally, the Conservatives represent 70.7 per cent of Ontarians and 77.8 per cent of western Canadians. Only 6.3 per cent of Quebecers have a Conservative MP.

Far more of them, or 79.3 per cent of Quebecers, are represented by a New Democrat. The NDP also represents 22.3 per cent of Atlantic Canadians and 19 per cent of Ontarians.

The Liberals have the bulk of their seats on the East Coast, and accordingly represent 35.2 per cent of Canadians in the four Atlantic provinces. They also represent about one in 10 Quebeckers and Ontarians.

As the Conservatives won almost all of their seats outside of Quebec, it should come as no surprise that they represent roughly 72 per cent of anglophones, compared to only 17 per cent represented by the NDP and 10 per cent by the Liberals.

Almost three-quarters of francophones are represented by the NDP, with 15 per cent having a Conservative MP and 5.4 per cent a Liberal MP. The Bloc's four seats include 4.5 per cent of all francophones nationwide.

Among those whose mother tongue is not English or French, 56.9 per cent of them have a Tory MP, while 26.8 per cent are represented by the NDP and 15.2 per cent by the Liberals.

The Liberals also punch above their weight in terms of the percentage of the country's immigrants (15.5 per cent) and visible minorities (18.3 per cent) that they represent. Nevertheless, the Conservatives represent a small majority of these two demographics, while the New Democrats represent roughly one in four. And of the country's aboriginals, 66.2 per cent are in Conservative ridings, compared to 27.7 per cent in seats occupied by the NDP and 5.5 per cent of those with Liberal MPs.

This is the new political landscape. The Conservatives are the party of English Canada and the New Democrats are the party of French Canada, while the Liberals have managed to remain relevant on the East Coast and in the downtown cores of Canada's largest cities. Gone are the days when a majority government could not be won without Quebec. The province is no longer a place where the New Democrats are a fringe party and the Bloc Québécois dominates. And the 20th century, two-thirds of which saw a Liberal government in Ottawa, seems like ancient history.

It is much too early to say whether the 2011 federal election will turn out to have been an accident or a lasting transformation, but it will undoubtedly change the way we look at Canadian politics and the political landscape for years to come.

Éric Grenier writes about politics and polls at

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