Editorial – Hamlets, settlements, farms all rule

Jeff Burgar

“Figures don’t lie. But lies come from figures.”

So the wise words go.

Looking at federal elections results, now that official numbers are released, gives just about anybody ideas to be happy or sad about. There are many interesting interpretations.

For our part, we only have a couple big takeaways here in Peace River – Westlock. Looking at the numbers, it helps that just about everybody voted for Conservative Arnold Viersen. Viersen got big numbers in most places, far overshadowing the other candidates.

Not all places, however. Atikameg voted for Liberal Leslie Penny. She got 65 of the 105 votes cast. Driftpile split their vote between Penny and the NDP candidate Jennifer Villebrun. Penny got 69 votes. Villebrun 63. Viersen managed to sneak in only 18 votes. There must be some kind of message in there but we aren’t sure what.

Jean d’or Prairie, Garden Creek and Fox Lake liked Villebrun too. Jean d’or gave her 112 votes. That, while awarding Viersen a measly two votes. It was a similar story in Garden Creek and Fox Lake, although Penny did better there.

But overall, for the total 229 polling stations, counting Advance and Mobile Polls, it was a Viersen sweep. This sweep pretty well mirrored just about every other place in Alberta, city or rural. Conservatives won, sometimes by not as big majorities as Peace River – Westlock, and they won handily. Only one seat went to a NDP, and that was in Edmonton.

Peace River – Westlock has no big cities. We are in a massive piece of land smack in the middle of north-central Alberta. The biggest centre is Whitecourt with a population of around 11,000. Next in size are Peace River and Slave Lake, followed by Westlock and Barrhead. Smaller centres include Falher, Grimshaw, Fairview, McLennan, High Prairie, La Crete, Swan Hills and Fox Creek.

In no particular order, the Viersen votes went: Peace River – 1,423; Falher – 407; McLennan – 310; High Prairie – 629; Slave Lake 1,572; Fox Creek – 569; Swan Hills – 410; Whitecourt – 3,001; LaCrete – 987; Fairview – 569; Grimshaw – 703; Barrhead – 1,683; Westlock – 1,444.

These are the “urban” centres in this riding. The places people say they are from, even if they live in districts outside. Together, these places totalled 13,003 votes for Viersen. The Advance and Mobile Polls counted 13,680 for all candidates. Total votes cast for everybody – 51,996 votes.

So, in a roundabout way, it can be said most of Viersen’s and other candidate votes came, not from the “big” places, but from rural voters. Excluding the Advance and Mobile, we have about 38,000 total votes including 13,000 urban. So about 25,000 people voted who do not live in the bigger communities mentioned above. Wow!

25,000 people is a lot! This sort of means half of our voters in fact are rural. Something all parties should keep in mind when thinking about new laws, policing, schools and health care. Not just here, but everywhere in Canada.

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