Paving the way for Tories – another view

Some days ago, contrarian reader Wallace J. McLean challenged contrarian to determine how many of the paving projects Nova Scotia submitted for federal stimulus funding were in provincial Tory ridings. “Too much work,” we said, and went back to surfing Digg and Stumbledupon.

Well, turns out Wally is a blogger himself, and after days with a magnifying glass comparing project lists with the boundaries of Nova Scotia’s 52 provincial ridings, he offers an answer:

Of the 37 projects put forward by the late Macdonald government in NS, five were located in Liberal districts, and five in NDP districts, based on the 2006 election results…. Twenty-six were located in districts which the Tories held, or had won in 2006.

One paving project defied classification because it straddles a boundry between territory held by the Liberals and the Tories. (All these designations pre-date the June 9 election.). His conclusion:

Tories held 55% of the rural and rural-ish seats, yet collectively represented 72% of the proposed highways projects. The N.S. Dippers held a quarter of the non-Halifax seats, and had 14% of the proposed projects. And in the Liberal column, the figures are 20% of districts, and 14% of projects.

Unfortunately, there are methodological problems with this analysis. Prior to the last election, most rural ridings were in Tory hands, and that’s where provincial highways are located. McLean acknowledges this, but then miscounts the rural ridings by accepting a Wikipedia definition that excludes such urban ridings as Cape Breton North (Tory), South (Liberal),  and Nova (NDP), as well as Glace Bay (Liberal). There are few provincial highways, and only one paving project, in any of these ridings.

One final nugget:

Tory-held Inverness was good for four project proposals out of 37 province-wide. Now, admittedly, Inverness is, by Nova Scotia standards, a large district. Yet its four projects accounted for a whopping $7.6-million, or 11.3%, of the aggregate project proposal value (almost 16% among PC districts!), and 10.9% of the project approval value. Inverness, of course, was the electoral chateau-fort of former Premier Rodney Macdonald.

Contrarian’s conclusion: McLean makes a case for moderate bias in the allocation of provincial paving priorities, but nothing close to the naked gerrymandering imposed by Peter MacKay and Steven Harper in their approval and rejection of proposed paving projects in Nova Scotia.