The Green Papers
The Green Papers
Historical Data

Canadian Political Parties by Region

Fri 21 Mar 2014

NOTE: This page is intended to be utilized as a supplement to CONGRESSIONAL Political Party Breakdown by SECTION and Region

Both Joel Garreau (in his early 1980's work The Nine Nations of North America) and Colin Woodard (in his American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America) argue that the 'Nations' into which North America is so divided also tend to cross international borders in the same manner in which they cross the geographical limits of American States (in other words: if, as is noted on the page to which the link just above this paragraph will take the reader, the very concept of a constituent State of the American Union is not so easily shoe-horned into a concomitant concept of SECTIONS and their included Regions throughout the United States of America, then even more so can this be said of the borders between both that United States of America and Canada and the USofA and Mexico!). Thus, the SECTIONS and Regions seen within the United States effectively "bleed over" into both of America's neighbors (each of which also happens to be a federation, just as is the United States itself).

This "bleed[ing] over" of Garreau/Woodard 'Nation's even over those national borders recognized as such under International Law was already touched upon (if only in passing) within the explanatory verbiage on the aforementioned web page linked to above where it was written that South Florida is today far more a part of the Caribbean Basin than North America [Miami having much closer ties to, say, San Juan or Santo Domingo than to, say, Atlanta or New Orleans (let alone Charleston or Richmond!)]; clearly, then, the southeasternmost tip of the United States itself has much in common with, say, the Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico (and, if various and sundry geopolitical circumstances hadn't gotten in the way, many other parts of the Caribbean Basin such as Cuba or even Venezuela)-- but South Florida also has much in common with non-Spanish speaking islands and island groups within the West Indies: such as the Bahamas or Jamaica, the Virgin Islands (those which are British, as well as the American), Martinique or Barbados, Dominica or Trinidad, etc. etc. (thus, it is not simply that South Florida has ties to the Hispanic Caribbean, but rather to the Caribbean as a whole.

Likewise, the norteamericano (aka norteño) subculture straddling the border between the United States and Mexico affects both sides of that border which itself is but a product of the mid-19th Century (well after the roots of said subculture were already in place in that location): for the Spanish Provincias Internas- the northernmost reaches of Spain's Viceroyalty of Nueva España- have not at all disappeared merely because Historical Atlases have long been able to contain maps of the United States with 'Mexican Cession:1848' and 'Gadsden Purchase:1853' stamped over America's southwestern quadrant. Those Provincias Internas that transmogrified into- and remained, after 1848 and 1853- some of the Estados Unidos Mexicana- States with names like Sonora and Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Durango, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon or Tamaulipas- still have much in common with other polities called States with names like Arizona and New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada (or, for that matter, at least large portions of both California and Texas)... and neither 'Fed' nor Federale (or, for that matter, no drug cartel!) can at all change this.

And so it is as regards Canada...

thus, if only "just for kicks", it might be at least somewhat interesting (if not even also fun!) to here take a look at similar Regional aspects of Canadian national politics to that which has been outlined in those tables doing same re: the United States!

Four of the eight 'Regions' (those geographical divisions of the USofA found in Table II via the aforementioned link) do seem to have also become part of America's northern neighbor: only America's 'Mid-Atlantic', 'Upper (Border) South', 'Lower (Deep) South' and 'Lower Midwest' do not have any direct effect on Canadian politics and society. A concomitant result that Canada does not have much- if any- of the political culture of these four American Regions which, besides Canada's so obviously divergent history- especially after 1775/1776- as compared to the United States, actually explains a lot about much of political Canada (for instance: it may well be rather oxymoronic to ask where, in Canada, an equivalent of the American 'Tea Party' movement[s] of the 20-teens might nowadays [or, at least, lately] be found [of which more below, by the way], largely on grounds that, come the original Boston Tea Party and the [over?]reaction of the British Home Government to same, English-speaking Nova Scotia [which, back then, included New Brunswick] didn't at all care for what it saw its neighbor and then-fellow British Province, that of Massachusetts Bay [which, back then, included Maine] was doing; but also on grounds that all but one of the more 'Tea Party'-friendly Regions of the United States do not even "cross-pollinate" with Canada in the first place!).

The four remaining Regions playing out within the northernmost tier of the United States, however, do each have more than a little influence (or, perhaps, a far better word here might be that aforementioned "cross-pollination") on those Canadian Provinces located just beyond the border of same... here's a quick listing of each such Region (the American-based name of which appears in [brackets]-- no, the Canadian Maritimes, despite their fairly swarming with Boston Red Sox fans, are not actually part of America's New England!) and the Canadian Provinces included in each (with the same caveat as was given regarding just such a thing in the United States itself: Provinces- like American States- are often actually split between such Regions [or what Messrs. Garreau and Woodard would call 'Nation's]; however, as, again, "it is the political relationships within a federation we are expounding here!" and Canada is a federation of Provinces and not of such Regions, one simply has to do the best one can to determine which Region might predominate within such Provinces-- again, "just for kicks").

As is the case with the similar tables on this topic done up re: the United States, further explanations of the above assignment of Province[s] to Region will be found below the table on this page.

It will easily be seen, by the reader, that two of the ten Canadian Provinces have not been included in the listing above: these being Newfoundland and Labrador and Québec. These two Provinces, most truly, each stand outside any of the Regions "bleeding over" into Canada from the United States because of their respective (as well as unique) provincial histories (which will also be further examined in verbiage to be found beneath the table on this page). For now, I will only say that I herein refer to Québec (solely as a "Region" for purposes of this page and its included table of data, that is!) as 'French Canada' (and the italicized 'Canada' is here purposeful, evoking that older Canada [in a language other than English] of les habitants amongst Canadiens that- while Québec has, as a society, moved quite far from such local feudalism of more than three centuries ago- is still an important, albeit long-ago, part of its own unique history).

Now, on to the table (which "regionalizes" the Political Party Divisions within the Canadian House of Commons based on the results of the most recent Canadian nationwide General Elections of 2 May 2011)...

Political Parties specifically listed in the table below:

C L ND BQ other
Newfoundland and Labrador 1 4 2 -- --
NE 1 [New England] 13 8 4 -- --
French Canada 5 7 59 4 --
MW 1 [Upper Midwest] 73 11 22 -- --
W 1 (A) [Interior West] 51 2 3 -- --
W 2 [Pacific Coast] 21 2 12 -- 1
not including Territories
164 34 102 4 1

[NOTE: The three Territorial units in far northern Canada are each entitled to 1 member in the House of Commons: Conservatives were elected from Yukon and Nunavut, while a New Democrat was elected from the Northwest Territories, giving the governing C a total of 166 (out of 308 seats) in the House of Commons and the ND (currently the principal Opposition Party in that body) a total of 103 seats. The Territories of Canada were not included in the table above, however, because- as Colin Woodard has pointed out in his American Nations- these areas are dominated by what Woodard refers to as 'First Nation' (made up of Native American groups- primarily Inuit [formerly known as 'Eskimo'- a term the Inuit themselves would prefer not be used] and Cree- with the Inuit, in particular, having strong ties to related groups in both Alaska and Kalaallit Nunaat [that is: Greenland]); agreeing here with Woodard, these areas are not included within the Regions delineated in the above table]

Newfoundland and Labrador (the official name of the Province since the recent Turn of the Millennia) has its own so unique History that it cannot easily be shoe-horned into any of the Regions of North America found in most of the rest of Canada (as well as within the northern tier of States in the continental United States per se). At one time considered "Britain's oldest colony" (Newfoundland- as the Province was called up till the Turn of the Millennia- was first settled by Englishmen less than half a decade after the first permanent English settlement in the Americas [Jamestown in Virginia which, of course, ceased to be a British overseas community as a result of an American Revolution that had no direct political effect upon Newfoundland), it did not even become a Province of the Dominion of Canada until 1949. Prior to that, Newfoundland had been a Dominion in its own right (although its Dominion status had been placed in abeyance in the early mid-1930s as a result of both the Great Depression and financial chicanery by its officeholders): originally a colony of fisherman, it was- early on- governed by a Commodore-Governor (a British naval officer who was only actually on the island during the fishing season [in the off-season, the islanders were left to govern themselves]: resident full-time Governors were not introduced until the early 19th Century) and the colony would not get what the British call 'Responsible Government' (with a Political Executive, apart from the Crown-appointed Governor, responsible to the local legislative body) until mid-19th Century; when the federation known as the Dominion of Canada was itself created in 1867, Newfoundland stayed out (becoming- as already noted above- a Dominion in its own right not long before the outbreak of World War I).

NE 1 [New England] in Canada: what are known generally as 'The Maritimes'- those three Canadian Provinces north and east of the New England States (these being New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island)- are, politicoculturally, extensions of New England (after all, the area is fairly lousy with fans of Baseball's Boston Red Sox no less than is New England proper); until fairly recently, in fact, Maritimers would regularly refer to America's New England as "the Boston States". Back in the 1770s, however, the denizens of Nova Scotia (which, back then, also included New Brunswick) were not- as has already been noted above- exactly fans of what was, at that time, going on in the neighboring British Province of Massachusetts Bay (which, back then, also included Maine: so, yes, Nova Scotia and Massachusetts were neighbors); the 'Boston Tea Party' and its aftermath simply did not sit at all well with those living in a region which had only so recently- merely some two decades earlier- expelled its French-speaking Acadians (leaving many of these to become the Cajuns of Louisiana): continued loyalty to the Crown, thus, overrode most other considerations and it through was so retaining its position as a British Province- despite the creation of the United States of America to its south- that Nova Scotia (and, once it was formed from same in 1784, New Brunswick) ended up making certain that there- if only eventually- would be not one, but two large mostly English-speaking federations spread across the continent of North America... but none of this at all changes the fact that the Maritimes (including Prince Edward Island- the one time Island of St. John) still retain at least some connection to New England itself: for each of these three Provinces would, at first, develop Counties that were themselves collections of smaller self-governing communities (as was done in New England) and, later on, such Counties would fall into disuse as administrative units (as also happened in New England), thereby leaving the more local units of government as the principal Civil Divisions in each Province.

French Canada: with more unique a History, among Canada's ten Provinces, than even Newfoundland and Labrador, Québec stands well apart from any other North American Region. At first, the very core of New France, it- the original 'Canada'- came into British hands for good upon the Plains of Abraham in 1759 at the edge of Quebec City; however, unlike the Acadians, who were expelled from Nova Scotia (as already noted above) near the start of a Seven Years'/French and Indian War which included that epic battle, the French-speaking Canadiens got to stay in what was, by then, their homeland and, further, were also able to retain much of their French-originated culture (thus, Carleton's Paradox [attributed to Guy Carleton, British Governor of Canada (a geographical concept which, at the time, only referred to the St. Lawrence Valley) as the American Revolution was first getting underway] to the effect that, in order to keep Canada [here meaning, again, what is now Québec] for the English, its inhabitants had to be allowed to remain French). The implementation of Carleton's Paradox- in the form of the Quebec Act of 1774- would have angered many, if not most, Americans within the "original 13" in any event, but its including much of the Ohio Valley (what would, later, become America's own 'Northwest Territory') within the bounds of the Province proved to be one of the many "powder kegs" that lit the American Revolution aflame. After the Second Peace of Paris of 1783- formally ending that Revolution (at least as far as the Great Powers were themselves concerned: a "small-r" revolution internal to the new United States of America would yet lead to both the American Federal Constitution and its Bill of Rights)- stripped Canada=Quebec of the Ohio Valley, the Province would- by 1791- find itself divided in two: the very sparsely populated (at least by White people) western portion would be known as 'Upper Canada' (which we will come back to shortly) while the more populated French-speaking eastern portion within the St. Lawrence Valley would become 'Lower Canada'. It would be 'Lower Canada' that would come into the Canadian Confederation in 1867 as the Province of Québec.

MW 1 [Upper Midwest] in Canada: the Province of Ontario [which was that known as 'Upper Canada' prior to Canadian Confederation in 1867], much like the States found in the Upper Midwest of the United States, developed a system of local governance featuring its own version of the so-called 'Supervisorial System' once so prevalent in those States in which the chief officer of a Township in Ontario- the 'Reeve'- also doubled as his Township's representative on the Council governing the County of which said Township was a part. Although this system of Local Government has been much modified- principally in the southern, more populated, portions of the Province- by the development, over the past half-century, of 'Regional Municipalities', themselves based on the geographical limits of its Counties, Ontario is clearly still at least somewhat tied in to the Upper Midwest in terms of its own political system.

W 1 (A) [Interior West] in Canada: the Provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta were each surveyed under the Dominion Land Survey which, as in the Federal 'Public Land Survey' in the United States, divided the land into 6-mile square Townships, each themselves further subdivided into 36 1-mile square Sections (though a key difference between the Canadian DLS and American PLS would be that "Road Allowances" between Sections were specifically built into the Canadian version [thus, unlike the case in the United States, those owning property abutting Section lines did not have to lose at least a small portion of their own acreage to the Public Domain in order to then provide for a rectangular "grid" of farm-to-market trunk highways and feeder roads]: as a result, Townships surveyed via the Canadian DLS tended to be 3 chains [1 chain= 22 yards or 66 feet] "higher" from south to north and 6 chains "wider" from east to west [that is: between Range lines] than similar Townships surveyed via the American PLS [which were, optimally, 480 chains (31,680 feet= 6 miles) on all sides]). However, as was seen in North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma (and subsequently avoided in all States to the west of these), it became readily apparent that such artificially, same-sized, rectangular Townships throughout a Province were not- alone, by themselves- going to at all be a sound basis for local self-government: thus, in these three Provinces, the 'Rural Municipality'- made up of a collection of multiple Townships- would, instead, prevail and, in essence, become the replacement- on the Canadian Prairies- for those Counties made up of Townships found to their east, in Ontario (and, thereby, become something equivalent to the 'Strong' County found south of the 49th Parallel). Therefore, these three Prairie Provinces have something of a connection to the States of the Interior West south of their respective borders as regards their own political development.

W 2 [Pacific Coast] in Canada: British Columbia is, essentially, all that portion of the one-time 'Oregon Country' remaining north of the 49th Parallel after its division between Great Britain and the United States in 1846 (in fact, the southernmost border of Alaska- the former 'Russian America'- with British Columbia is that very "54°40" [North Latitude] over which, prior to 'Oregon Country' so being divided, many Americans proclaimed themselves so willing to "fight"!). As both Washington State and Oregon itself also came out of this same 'Oregon Country' as has British Columbia, this alone (besides the many in and around, say, Vancouver who were positively giddy when the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII) illustrates a lineal connection between the Pacific Coast States and Canada's lone Pacific Coast Province.

Finally, a few words about the Political Parties in Canada (if here only from an American perspective!):

It is difficult- where not also foolhardy- to make definitive comparisons between those Parties found on one side of the US-Canada border and those found on the other. However, it should be noted that, after the Dominion of Canada first confederated in 1867, two Major Parties of Dominion-wide scale developed and- as was the case in Great Britain at that time- these were denominated the Conservatives and the Liberals. The Conservatives- long known as the 'Progressive Conservatives' (but now, once again, called 'Conservatives' [of which more shortly])- are, to no little extent, the closest thing Canada has to America's own Republican Party (with the caveat that it is has, historically, been far more dominated by the Canadian equivalent of those many, if not most, elements of the 'Tea Party' movement in the States would decry as 'RINO's ["Republicans in name only"] than is the Republican Party US itself): thus, these 'Conservatives' are Canada's "right of center" Party; meanwhile, the 'Liberals' are those in Canada who would more likely find a home within at least the more pragmatic wing of the Democratic Party in the United States and, therefore, make up Canada's "left of center" Party.

The Conservatives and Liberals were the linchpin of Canadian governance- on both the Dominion and Provincial levels- until the Great Depression, when the significant socioeconomic pressures of that era allowed what in America would be denominated 'Third Parties' to emerge, not only at the Provincial level, but also on a Dominionwide scale. One of these was the Commonwealth Co-operative Federation which, in the early 1960s, became the core of the 'New Democrats'- a Party more liberal than even the Liberals and that can best be understood as something of a combination of the more liberal wing of the American Democratic Party with a social democratic political entity such as is found in Europe: thus, the Canadian New Democrats are "left of left of center". And, finally, there is Bloc Québecois- the Federal ally of the Provincial level Parti Québecois that still hopes for a separate, independent Nation-State of Québec- if only eventually (as two referenda within the Province on the issue [one held in 1980, the other in 1995] have already failed of passage).

As for something along the lines of a 'Tea Party' movement in Canada, it- if only at first glance- seems rather silly to even discuss such a thing in a Nation-State which, at least in part, emerged out of those very areas (as already noted above) which had found the original Tea Party- that of 1773 in Boston- so appalling. However, and having said this, plaintive echoes (at least) of more fervent cries of "I want my country back!" have been heard in Canada- most recently, in the form of the Reform Party (not to be confused with that Reform Party in the United States which briefly emerged out of Ross Perot's independent campaigns for President of the United States in the 1990s). In essence, the Reform Party of Canada was nothing all that new: for it drew upon supporters of yet another Third Party which had emerged in Canada in the wake of the Great Depression- the Social Credit Party (which originally pushed so-called 'social credit' economic and financial policy [in which "Systems were made for men, and not men for systems"]): a Party, therefore, of conservative populism. But the Canadian Reform Party of the 1980s and 1990s added more than a dash of 'Tea Party'-style sociocultural conservatism and concomitant disdain for the Federal Government (in this case, of course, Canada's Federal Government [whose Progressive Conservatives were fairly seen- by these Reformers- as "Conservatives in name only"]) and gained its main support, as might well be expected, from within those Canadian Provinces included in the Interior West [W 1 (A) in the table above] from which it itself had first emerged (the Reform Party's leader was the son of a one-time 'SoCred' Premier of Alberta). However, the Reform Party petered out as a major political force as the Millennia turned: its core merged with the Progressive Conservatives (themselves reeling from a series of major electoral setbacks in the 1990s) to form, first, a 'Canadian Alliance' which, later, re-emerged as the just plain 'Conservatives' found in Canada today (meanwhile, the closest thing to the original essence of this Reform Party of Canada nowadays is the 'Saskatchewan Party' in that Province, a populist group which its opponents [principally New Democrats] deride as "Saska-Tories").

All in all, however, Canada has not- save for, perhaps, at least some within the Reform Party in its heyday- spawned the kind of strident political rhetoric heard from much of America's 'Tea Party' movement(s) of now the second decade of the 21st Century and this is not all that much an accident. Except for the aforementioned 'Interior West' (and, of course, both Newfoundland and Québec), Canada is primarily a federation of Provinces representing three Regions of North America that- within the United States- have not (as has already been mentioned near the very start of this web page) proven to be particularly 'Tea Party'-friendly; in addition, Canada- obviously- does not have the inherent historical sociocultural (where not also politicoeconomic) tensions between the northern tier 'Frost Belt' of the United States and its southern tier 'Sun Belt' going back a century and a half now to the very aftermath of the American Civil War (tensions which well fuel both the 'Tea Party' and its detractors), if only because most of Canada is- from the perspective of political analysis- itself so 'Frost Belt'! (In Canada itself, meanwhile, any such regional/sectional dynamism within its federation is- as the very emergence of its now-former Reform Party illustrates- East vs. West, not North vs. South [and not at all primarily because of Francophone Québec's position within an otherwise Anglophone confederation]).

Created Fri 21 Mar 2014. Modified .