Monday, May 02, 2011

Mix, Match and Vote

As my fellow citizens all know, Canadians go to the polls today to elect new members of parliament. In every constituency, called a riding, voters select on their ballot one candidate, and the candidate who receives the most votes, even if it isn't a majority, become the elected representative for that riding. The party represented by the majority of elected candidates will most probably then be asked by the Governor-General to form a government, and that party's leader will become the next (or remain the current) Prime Minister of Canada.

Foreigners can test their knowledge of Canadian politics and Canadians can try to guess the punchline of the cartoon below.

I'd explain the inverted punchline for non-Canadians, but it's spelled out under the cartoon here. Americans probably think it's wacky, but I remind you that we think the same of your primaries.

Instead I'll throw in a linguistics tidbit and tell you the origin of the Canadian word riding. Old Norse influence in what is now northern England produced the word þriðing, which sounds like 'thriving' except with the v replaced with the th sound from this, and which means "third part." Yorkshire, for example was divided into three, the North, South and East. Say North Thrithing a few times and it quickly loses the second consecutive th sound and from there it morphed into something that folk etymologies often dream up a scenario with candidates canvassing potential voters on horseback. I wish. It would be a lot more entertaining than the autodialled calls I keep getting.

I've heard from the Liberals twice, the NDP once and the Conservatives, Greens and others not at all. Make that the Liberals three times. They literally called again while I was finishing that sentence. Also I saw the the Bloc Quebecois campaign bus yesterday on the tarmac, collecting BQ candidates from what was presumably their campaign aircraft, but I didn't have my camera with me. Too bad, it is definitely the coolest campaign aircraft of all the parties, and I can't find a picture of it online. Here is what it looks like. A Convair 580 turboprop still mostly in Nolinor colours. It was facing me head on, so I didn't see if it had BQ decals, too. They made the news last week doing a go around for sudden wind gusts in Gaspé. Love those massive propellers.

Both the Conservative and NDP campaigns are flying Airbus 319s chartered from Air Canada. It's a good thing for them that the Leafs didn't make the playoffs, because I think one of the airplanes might have gone to the hockey team if they had.

Can you guess by the decals on the Airbuses which party is more popular than its leader and which leader is more popular than his party?

The Liberals have leased an American-made Boeing 737-400 from Enerjet in Calgary. They had to scramble for an airplane last election because Air Canada couldn't spare any more A319s, so this year they booked in advance. This may be a picture from a previous campaign, because the FlightAware site records nothing since a Frobisher Bay-Kelowna flight two years ago, but I think they have the same type this year.

The Green leader Elizabeth May took a train last year, but this year I guess she's buying airline tickets. Or maybe riding a horse.

14 comments:

David said...

... and if the leader of the party with the most seats fails to win the confidence of the House, the Governor General may ask a different party leader to try and form a government. That's what makes this election so exciting for a politics nerd like me.

Rob42 said...

So what voting system do you use in Canada, and do you like it? In Australia, we've used preferential voting for decades, and everyone seems content with it, but it's been the subject of a lot of controversy in the UK, where they are considering changing from a "first past the post" system to a preferential system...

Peter said...

@Rob42, we use first-past-the-post. There was a referendum on a preferential voting similar (iirc) to Australia's in the 2008 election; it failed to gain enough support to pass.

I believe the main federal parties are against preferential ballots as it would give more power to smaller parties (at their expense).

Anonymous said...

I believe that the Liberal aircraft is leased from Flair, not Enerjet.

Ward said...

I wonder where Aviatrix was (and what she was doing) that she saw a BQ bus on the tarmac? Obviously somewhere in Quebec...

Atlanta Roofing said...

Truthfully, I'd like to see the NDP get a crack as the official opposition. I'm curious to see how and where they would make concessions on their ideologies, as is necessary when applying ideals to practical situations. I'm not especially hopeful, but I am curious.

Ed said...

I was wondering what a political party could do to lose my vote quicker than waging aggressive war — yes, autodialling would probably work.

Aviatrix said...

Oh I really made a mess of this blog posting with those pictures, didn't I? I promise it looked pretty on the preview screen.

And yes, Canada needs a voting system reform, but it's difficult to make it happen because at any time the party in power got there on the strength of the broken system we have now. When the right of centre vote was split among multiple parties and the Liberals had power, they liked it that way, and then when the right united under one banner and took power, they didn't want to change a system that's working for them now.

And yup, you'd expect I'd have to be at an airport in Québec to see the BQ campaign airplane, wouldn't I? And Québec is such a big province.

Ryan said...

Ms. May has literally used trains, planes, and automobiles, and ferries too, for that matter.

The Greens have made a deliberate decision to emphasize Ms. May winning a seat rather than national campaigning, though. You can see that those two travel days were from mid-April, and since then her itineraries have hardly budged from Saanich-Gulf Islands, which means mostly ferry boats and cars (maybe she rides her bike around the riding?)

Ryan said...

I'd be loath to suggest that a system that allows for orderly governing transitions among multiple parties (3 in the last 20-odd years; plus about five opposition parties) is in grave need of reform.

That said, a preferential ballot may encourage more minor parties to spring up and stick around. In Australia, however, the effect is to have two major, nearly institutional grand coalitions (right and left).

Foggy said...

Aviatrix,

I am really sorry to have to do this, but, Yorkshire was made up of three Ridings and the City of York up to the "Local Government(?)" reorganisation of, I believe, 1973.

The Ridings were: North Riding, West Riding, and East Riding. There has been, is not, and never will be a "South Riding" of Yorkshire. Parts of The East Riding of Yorkshire became "South Yorkshire" in the reorganisation; other parts went into "North Yorkshire" and some to an entity referred to as "Humberside".

I was born in the North Riding of Yorkshire and, like many of my fellow "Yorkists", continue to refer to the North, West and East Ridings, and the City.

Paul said...

Anonymous is half right, the aircraft is from Flair, subbed out to Enerjet (It flew under an Enerjet callsign and flight number).

Aviatrix said...

We're all right. And Elizabeth May won her seat, so maybe the Greens were right, too.

Aviatrix said...

Oh and Foggy is right, too. I read the explanation in a textbook I'd taken back to the library, and didn't remember the three Yorkshire districts so I looked them up on a website that turned out to be incorrect. Apparently it's a common error because there was a work of fiction set in South Yorkshire.