20 June 2015

What district is Earle in, again? #nlpoli

Since the bill to change provincial districts cleared the House last week,  the provincial New Democrats have been tweeting sanctimoniously about the harm done to rural districts by the bill.

All those rural seats lost,  they wail.

All very undemocratic,  they cry.

And all very much a load of shit, at least as far as the Dipper claim goes.

Rural Newfoundland has been over-represented for most of the time the province has been in Confederation.  The legacy of that has carried on more recently since the last redistricting or two failed to shift districts out of the less populous areas of the province to the ones where more people live.

That’s thing:  people aren’t living in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, like they did back when Earle was occupying the university president’s office and drinking all the booze in the liquor cabinet.  If you redistricted properly with 48 seats,  the people of rural Newfoundland would have fewer seats than it currently has.

That’s because there are fewer people there.

The problem with Bill 13 is not only that it cut seats without any advice from the people directly affected –
the voters – but also that it created a raft of new inequalities. 

The bill preserves four seats in Labrador.  Right off the bat,  that means that a vote in Labrador is worth more than a vote anywhere on the island.

That’s fundamentally undemocratic.  All three political parties have been silent on that issue because they want to pander to the folks in the Big Land.  

On the island,  some districts have way fewer people than the baseline if you divide the population on the island by 36 or 37.norm.  While the rules allow for it,  Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune, for example has only about half the number of voters as a seat on the northeast Avalon.  That’s an extreme example,  but it is just the sort of thing you get from a redistricting process that was premised on exactly the sort of unfair, unequal, undemocratic principles that the NDP complaints about Bill 13 actually endorses!

Your humble e-scribbler has jabbed at the Dippers tweeting this nonsense.  After all, in solidarity with the benighted folks of rural Newfoundland, the glorious NDP leader Earle McCurdy has decided to run in a townie seat.

It’s where he lives,  replied Gerry Rogers.

Your humble e-scribbler thought this was odd, given that back in May, Earle lived in Mount Pearl,  by his own account.  Earle told the Telegram’s 20 Questions that he lived in Mount Pearl South and therefore he didn’t vote for Steve Kent.

The district was Mount Pearl North for Steve Kent or Paul Lane for Mount Pearl    A little bit of sleuthing turned Earle up in a development sandwiched between a Roman Catholic cemetery and a former shopping mall turned office complex off Topsail Road, in Mount Pearl.  Turns out Earle got his MHA right, but got the district wrong.

Despite some initial mistakes by your humble e-scribbler on Twitter, a check of the last official boundary map from the redistricting commission shows that Earle McCurdy lives  - still - in the district of Mount Pearl North.

That’s the same district Earle lived in when he spoke to the Telegram.

And it's the same district he was in for the initial proposal of the boundaries.

And yes,  folks, Earle got the MHA right but the name of the district wrong back then.

Why would Earle run in a district he doesn’t live?  asked Gerry of your humble e-scribbler.

Why indeed, given that he lives in Mount Pearl North and plans to run in St. John’s South.

The answer is known only to the denizens of the Dipper back rooms but we can all venture a good guess.

In Mount Pearl North,  Earle would likely get his ass handed to him by Steve Kent,  currently working steadily as Paul Davis’ stand-in.  The match-up would be brave, even if the numbers were decidedly against the Dippers.

The district would still fall within the metro region and therefore, the Dippers could use their plan to pool their resources into one major effort in support of several metro candidates.  Earle can’t run outside that protective umbrella because basically the NDP doesn’t have a party to speak of outside the overpass.  Such is Lorraine’s legacy.

And that,  by the way, is the reason Earle is talking about the harm done to rural Newfoundland, while he runs in a seat that isn’t even close to rural Newfoundland. 

But why is Earle running where he doesn’t live?

Well,  it must be that the Dippers figure they have a shot at St. John’s West.  Or at least a better shot given that Earle is up a weak Conservative cabinet minister who only won the seat the last time by a Joan-Marie-Aylward kinda margin.   

As it is,  St. John’s West will be a three-way fight.  Liberal Siobhan Coady is running one of the best-organized campaigns there and has been practically since the last provincial election.  For Earle’s part,  it is surprising the Dippers didn’t send him to Labrador West.  The local union infrastructure there and current sentiment should give the NDP a shot at winning back a seat they held for years before now. Lab West remains probably the only seat outside metro where the Dippers have a shot.

Earle didn’t pick an easy fight, as it turns out after all. 

But make no mistake,  unless they shifted the boundaries again after the final boundary report,  Earle does not live in the district in which he is running.

We can only wonder why.

Maybe Gerry Rogers can explain it to us.

She can do that as we wait for the beleaguered George Murphy to tell us what seat he will contest, now that Lorraine has told him to frig off out of the seat she wants.

Will George run in the district in which he lives?

Only time will tell.