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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[LINK] “Who won Canada’s rural vote?”

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At MacLean’s, Nick Taylor-Vaisey notes, in detail, how many rural ridings the Liberals won. That he goes into the methodology of the analysis is a nice bonus.

Canada’s big electoral map gives the impression that rural Canada largely rejected the victorious Liberals. The splotches of blue and orange make it seem as if Conservatives and New Democrats won the hearts and minds of the sprawling hinterland where one-fifth of Canadians hang their hats. Aside from the massive northern territories—always a boon to parties who want to be put on the map—how many rural Canadian ridings do Liberals represent in Ottawa? Look at that map again and fancy a guess.

The answer: Liberals hold about one-third of rural ridings, by our count. Feel free to quibble.

How did we arrive at that conclusion? It’s complicated. When academic researchers classify ridings as urban or rural, or something in between, they often look at population density. Farmers Forum decided that any riding with fewer than 100 people per sq. km counts as rural. Louise Carbert, an associate professor of political science at Dalhousie University, divided ridings into four categories for a paper on an enduring deficit of female representatives in rural ridings. Statistics Canada used to make it easy: The agency helpfully offered density for the 308 now-defunct ridings based on the 2011 census.

Unhelpfully, StatsCan no longer provides that data at the riding level. It’s hard to come by. A Wikipedia page lists population density, but its sourcing is inconsistent. The best measure of riding density we consulted was via Google Earth, a mapping platform that allows users to measure the area of digital shape files. They generally match up with the land areas on that mysterious Wikipedia page. But even Google Earth provides an imperfect measure, as shape files don’t remove bodies of water from land-area measurements. Our own calculations of density are, therefore, flawed. But we gave it a try, anyway.

Even after those density calculations, a small subset of ridings pose a unique challenge: They dip into heavily urban or suburban areas, but also include a wide swath of populated rural land. Farmers in those places might wildly disagree with being called urban. Suburban homeowners might laugh at being called rural. Our solution: Sort riding densities listed on the Wikipedia page, and classify every riding with a density between 150 and 300 per sq. km as “rurban.” (We double-checked the densities of those particular ridings against Google Earth’s measurements.)

More, including detailed conclusions, at the site.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 12, 2015 at 8:42 pm

[LINK] “Missouri state senator aims to block student’s dissertation on abortion”

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Al Jazeera America’s Massoud Hayoun reports on an astonishingly brazen attempt to control education, by trying to prevent a graduate student from researching the effects of abortion bans.

A University of Missouri doctoral student plans to continue research for her dissertation on the effects of the state’s recently imposed 72-hour waiting period for abortions, despite a state legislator’s push to block the research, the student told Al Jazeera in an exclusive interview.

“I stand by my research project,” Lindsay Ruhr said Wednesday. “I feel that my research is objective, and that the whole point of my research is to understand how this policy affects women. Whether this policy is having a harmful or beneficial effect, we don’t know.”

State Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Republican from Columbia, Missouri, who chairs the Missouri state senate’s interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life, sent a letter in late October to the University of Missouri calling Ruhr’s dissertation “a marketing aid for Planned Parenthood — one that is funded, in part or in whole, by taxpayer dollars,” according to a copy of the letter posted to HuffingtonPost.com. Schaefer called for the university to hand over documents regarding the project’s approval and said that, because the University of Missouri is a public university, it should not fund research that he said would promote elective abortions. Missouri law prohibits the use of public funds to promote non-life-saving abortions.

“We are still in the process of responding to Sen. Schaefer’s request for documents,” Mary Jenkins, public relations manager for University of Missouri Health, said Wednesday in an email. Schaefer did not respond to Al Jazeera’s multiple interview requests.

Missouri in September 2014 enacted a 72-hour wait for abortions, becoming one of several states that have restricted access to the procedure — moves that reproductive rights advocates have called legal attempts to chip away at the rights established by the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Other legal restrictions, passed in Missouri and some other states, have required that women seeking an abortion undergo an ultrasound scan and receive informational material that abortion rights advocates say aims to dissuade women from undergoing the procedure.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 12, 2015 at 8:34 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • Centauri Dreams reports on the non-existence of Alpha Centauri Bb.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the exciting new findings from Pluto, including news that it supports a subsurface ocean.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at the power of student protests at the University of Missouri.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the promise of anti-viral injections in treating HIV.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reacts to a historical student of slavery in the US urban south.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the slow pace at which US immigration records are being digitized.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that before 1960, contrary to the current trend, African-Americans with identifiably African-American names did better than average.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes the size of Poland-Lithuania in 1635.
  • Towleroad notes how a photo of Justin Trudeau with the same-sex family of Scott Brison went viral.
  • Transit Toronto looks at the upcoming TTC open house on the 12th.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that North Caucasians have reason for protest apart from ethnicity and suggests Russian regionalism is not related to ethnicity.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • blogTO shares photos of Yonge and Dundas in the grimy 1970s.
  • The Big Picture shares photos from a Tibetan Buddhist assembly.
  • Crooked Timber shares a photo of Bristol’s floating bridge.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on an estimate of the number of extraterrestrial technological civilizations.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes an atlas of drought in Europe.
  • Geocurrents examines the fallacy of environmental determinism.
  • Joe. My. God. notes how open travel between the European Union and Ukraine has been endangered by the failure to protect gay employment.
  • Language Hat links to an essay by a feminist talking about what it is like to live in a language environment, that of Hebrew, where everything is gendered.
  • Language Log engages with fax usage in Japan and notes rare characters in Taiwan.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the plight of the dying steel town, all the worse because it was evitable.
  • Marginal Revolution has a bizarre defense of Ben Carson.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog and Window on Eurasia report on a rectification of the Russian-Chinese frontier.
  • Window on Eurasia is critical of village values in Russia, and notes the return of ISIS fighters to Azerbaijan.

[LINK] “Turns Out, the NDP Just Wasn’t Ready”

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The Tyee‘s Bill Tieleman reviews the NDP’s performance and not only finds it lacking, but finds the leadership does not understand what went wrong well enough.

I think we emerged from this with a lot of hope for where we can go from here… We have a lot of opportunity going forward.” — Anne McGrath, NDP 2015 election campaign director

What?! Let me get this straight: the NDP blew its best chance of winning government in history, squandered its lead and dropped by 59 seats — over half from the 103 it won in 2011 — and there’s “a lot of hope” after the election?

The NDP also lost one million votes from 2011, despite higher turnout, and for the first time in Canadian history saw a third party, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, leap frog over the Official Opposition to win 184 seats — and there’s “a lot of opportunity?”

McGrath’s comments are delusional. The NDP’s monumental defeat was so devastating that it may take a generation before even a chance to form government happens again.

But McGrath wasn’t alone. NDP leader Tom Mulcair’s special advisor Brad Lavigne’s statements were equally absurd.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 6, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Posted in Canada, Politics

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[LINK] “Why Canada Needs to Elect More LGBTQ politicians”

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Torontoist’s Erica Lenti writes, in the wake of a federal election that saw many LGBTQ incumbents displaced, about the need for greater representation.

In late September, I attended Toronto’s only leaders debate that addressed LGBTQ issues precluding the federal election. The event felt underwhelming: the openly gay Conservative candidate who was slated to attend did not show up (thanks to lack of instruction from CPC HQ), and in his absence, merely one of three of the other candidates on stage self-identified as LGBTQ. In a room full of queer people eager to have their issues addressed, three white, cisgender men (two of whom were straight) spewed campaign policy at the crowd for a few hours.

The gay MP hopeful who did show up, NDP incumbent Craig Scott, was not re-elected on October 19. In the crimson tide that overtook this year’s election, Scott and two other LGBTQ-identifying incumbents—former Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine NDP MP Philip Toone and former Chicoutimi-Le Fjord NDP MP Dany Morin, both from Quebec—lost their seats. In their place, one new NDP candidate (Sheri Benson of Saskatoon West) and two Liberal candidates (Randy Boissonnault of Edmonton Centre and Seamus O’Regan of St. John’s-Mount Pearl) who identify as LGBTQ have been elected. That three LGBTQ incumbent losses were matched by three new LGBTQ candidates could be a cause for celebration.

But with Scott out of the picture, downtown Toronto is no longer represented federally by an openly queer MP.

More troubling is the fact that only six LGBTQ-identifying MPs have been elected this year, accounting for just 1.7 per cent in Parliament. If those numbers seem low, it’s because they are. In fact, those numbers have been unchanging since 2006—just one year after gay marriage was legalized across Canada. Only one of the elected MPs this year was a woman. Just 20 candidates across all four major parties were openly LGBTQ this election.

What gives?

Written by Randy McDonald

November 6, 2015 at 1:17 am

[DM] “On the return of the long-form census to Canada”

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I’ve a post at Demography Matters sharing the good news. I did not want to base a post on the speculation earlier this week, but today it has been confirmed. From the Toronto Star:

The mandatory long-form census is back.

Just a day after taking office, the new Liberal government announced Thursday that the 61-question census form — axed by the Conservatives in 2010 — will be reinstated for the 2016 census.

Navdeep Bains, the newly named Minister of Innovation, Science and Development, confirmed the news to reporters on Parliament Hill, declaring that the country needed access to high quality data.

“Today, Canadians are reclaiming their right to accurate and more reliable information,” said Bains, the MP for Mississauga-Malton.

With the 2016 census, communities will “once again have access to high-quality data they require,” he said.

I, for one, am very pleased.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 5, 2015 at 11:03 pm


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