The Election Result Was Predicted Five Years Ago

Edmonton - Thursday, July 15, 2004 - by: Ron Thornton Marriage, Be It Same Sex, Same Family, Same Harem
  Five years ago, I was part of a little band that was not terribly pleased with Preston Manning's decision to gut the Reform Party in favour of his United Alternative. We put out a research paper that  indicated that such a move would not work. Recently, one of the fine folks who I worked with in hoping to safe-GUARD our hopes mentioned that our paper seemed rather close to the mark. I had not read it in ages, but I thought you might be interested in taking a look at what we wrote in 1999.



April 27, 1999


92 seats. That is all the United Alternative theory is about in terms of seats Reform could have won, according to calculations from the 1997 results from Elections Canada. 92 seats represents the maximum number of seats the Reform/U.A. theory would have garnered in 1997 had the Progressive Conservatives not "split" the vote. 92 seats represents the most optimistic figure, though a figure of less than eighty would have been more realistic. For the prospect of claiming just 92 seats, we are currently being asked to fight to preserve our principles by our own leadership, to retain our constitution and the mechanisms of grassroots democracy, to risk having to compromise to accommodate non-Reformers in an United Alternative. However, the statistics from the 1997 election indicate the theory behind the United Alternative initiative is nothing more than a great "right" hoax.
According to the 1997 election statistics, along with retaining its 60-seats in the federal election, the U.A. theory would have seen Reform likely pick up:
Nova Scotia (2 PC seats): Cumberland, West Nova

New Brunswick (4 PC seats): Charlotte, Fundy/Royal, Saint John, and Tobique/Mactoguac

Ontario (4 Liberal seats): Bruce/Grey, Simcoe/Grey, Victoria/Haliburton,York South*

Manitoba (2 PC seats): Brandon/Souris, Provencher

Yukon (1 NDP seat)


According to the 1997 statistics, the Liberals would have likely claimed a minimum of 134 seats, compared to 73 for Reform, 31 for the Bloc, and another 12 for the NDP, while 51 would have been difficult to determine exactly how the PC voters would have affected the outcome. Of those fifty -one races, the Liberals would have played a factor in 50 of them,the Bloc in 23, and the NDP 17. Reform would have been a factor in just 18, including two in Newfoundland, five in Nova Scotia, one in New  Brunswick, nine in Ontario, and one each in Saskatchewan and Alberta. The chances of success in these ridings would have been varied. In many cases, Reform/UA would have required a large number of PC votes just to get on even terms, and then a plurality of the remainder to claim victory.  Even if they got all the votes they needed to catch up, and a three-way split of the remainder, the Reform/U.A. candidates would have had to win a significant majority of the PC vote to claim victory. For example:
ST. JOHN'S EAST (PC) - Between 73% and 80% of the total PC vote to win.
ST. JOHN'S WEST (PC) - Between 85% and 89% of the total PC vote to win
NOVA SCOTIA (3 PC seats, 2 NDP seats)
DARTMOUTH (NDP) - Between 85% and 88% of the total PC vote to win.
KINGS/HANTS (PC) - Between 64% and 73% of the total PC vote to win.
PICTOU/ANTIGONISH/GUYSBOROUGH (PC) - Between 68% and 76% of the total PC vote to win.
SACKVILLE/EASTERN SHORE (NDP) - Between  72% and 79% of the total PC vote to win.
SOUTH SHORE (PC) - Between 62% and 71% of the total PC vote to win.
NEW BRUNSWICK (1 Liberal seat)
FREDERICTON (LIB) - Between 60% and 70% of the total PC vote to win.
ONTARIO (1 PC seat, 8 Liberal seats)
DUFFERIN/PEEL/WELLINGTON/GREY (LIB) - Between 70% and 78% of the PC vote to win.
HASTINGS/FRONTENAC/LENNOX & ADDINGTON (LIB) - Between 68% and 76% of the PC vote to win.
LEEDS/GRENVILLE (LIB) - Between 70% and 77% of the PC vote to win.
MARKHAM (PC) - Between 72% and 79% of the PC vote to win.
NIAGARA FALLS (LIB) - Between 66% and 74% of the PC vote to win.
OSHAWA (LIB) - Between 71% and 78% of the PC vote to win.
OXFORD (LIB) - Between 64% and 73% of the PC vote to win.
PARRY SOUND/MUSKOKA (LIB) - Between 73% and 80% of the PC vote to win.
RENFREW/NIPISSING/PEMBROKE (LIB) - Between 68% and 76% of the PC vote to win.
CHURCHILL RIVER (NDP) - Between 66% and 75% of the PC vote to win.
ALBERTA (1 Liberal seat)
EDMONTON WEST (LIB) - Between 65% and 74% of the PC vote to win.
Realistically, of these 19 seats Reform/UA would have had to claim more than 70% of the PC vote to avoid losing 13 of these races. Even with the PC's out of the picture, it would appear Canadians would have still had another Liberal majority government, and left Reform/UA with a best case scenario 92 seats, far short of forming a government of any description in a 301-seat legislature.
There would have been additional consequences to having the Progressive Conservatives out of the picture. In Quebec, the PC seat of Chicoutimi would probably have been lost to the Bloc, while the freed PC vote would have had the Bloc and the Liberals dueling over 23 seats (4 PC, 5 Liberal, 14 Bloc) most of which could likely have been picked up by the Liberals assuring their majority government. In the end, U.A. could have resulted in a 36th parliament featuring from 134-184 Liberals, 72-92 U.A. Reformers, 31-54 Bloc, and 12-30 NDP. Even if allowances were made for any errors in these calculations, the evidence is overwhelming that U.A. will not deliver the reins of power to its proponents and their supporters. This would be a low return for an initiative which has eroded both our confidence and our credibility as a political party and a political movement.
So, if U.A. is not about winning government in the next election, then what could it be about? For clues, one needs only to look at the other party invited to join in the exercise. One party has been the traditional alternative to the Liberals. One party has traditionally received financial contributions from those opposed to the Liberals. One party just fifteen years ago could have claimed to be the ONLY ALTERNATIVE, and did indeed sweep the Liberals from power. As recent history has demonstrated, when a party is the ONLY ALTERNATIVE it doesn't necessarily need to stick to principles, promises, or even ideology. So, if U.A. isn't about seats then might it be possible that it is all about power and all that it offers? It hasn't a thing to do with principles, grassroots democracy or changing the way politics is done in this country. Quite the contrary.
With a lack of documentation, hard facts, or proof being offered in this debate to justify the United Alternative, we had to make some assumptions based on common sense interpretation of the 1997 federal election. Our position is that if Reform/U.A. would have been assured of victory by claiming a 60% or less share of the PC vote, we could be fairly confident they would have won that seat.  Conversely, our position was if another party could have claimed a seat by just capturing a 20% share of the PC vote, then we could have been fairly confident that party would have won that seat. If neither criteria was met, then we determined that the outcome would have been in doubt.
Further, we looked at UA's "Magic" 55 ridings, those that have been deemed lost through the split in votes on the right. We looked at exactly how many P.C. votes would have been required to give the "U.A." victory in those ridings. We remain in the dark as to how much of the P.C. vote we could hope to expect. We are left unsure as to the future support of Reformers who refuse to risk their hopes, their principles, their democratic ideals, or their grassroots philosophy with this divisive and manipulative United Alternative process. Simple logic dictates that when two groups come together there must be compromise, or one group must accede to the other. If Reformers are to compromise to make room for their United Alternative partners, then what principles are to be sacrificed? To sacrifice such principles for power is unconscionable. To sacrifice such principles for just 92 seats in a 301-seat parliament is lunacy at best.
  How close we were in our forecast back in 1997, and what it means for 2004, I leave it to you to judge.


Ron Thornton




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