The Fraser Valley: a many-hued political picture

We analyzed the results of the 2019 federal election to show how the Fraser Valley's many neighbourhoods supported the Conservatives, Liberals, NDP, and Greens

By Grace Kennedy | August 31, 2021 |6:46 pm

Some might be inclined to paint all Fraser Valley residents with a blue brush, given the long tradition of Conservative MPs in much of the valley. But that would discredit the richness of the Fraser Valley’s many neighbourhoods, whose electoral leanings come together to paint a many-hued political picture—even if not every colour makes it into Parliament.

To start our examination of the Fraser Valley’s political spectrum, we must examine the Conservatives—the blues in our political painting. Four of every 11 votes cast in the Fraser Valley in 2019 went to the Conservatives. They did better than that in Abbotsford, Chilliwack-Hope, and Langley-Aldergrove, and slightly worse in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon and the Langley part of Cloverdale-Langley City. The party improved on their vote share from four years prior, when the latter two ridings had been won by the Liberals.

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Drilling deeper down into the polling station results reveals more interesting variations in the Fraser Valley’s communities, and those neighbourhoods’ voting habits. Blue voters were generally concentrated in the valley’s farmland, with the strongest support in two Abbotsford and two Chilliwack regions: Mt. Lehman, Sumas Prairie, Greendale, and eastern Chilliwack including Rosedale.

In those areas about two-thirds of the vote was cast for the Conservatives. (One polling station in the Fraser Canyon’s Walhachin community also voted more than 70% in favour of the Conservatives.) No other political party was able to match that support in any Fraser Valley polling station in 2019. But support for the left-of-centre parties was still strong in some areas, if not as widespread.

In west Abbotsford, the Liberals secured about half of the vote. The largest Liberal lead in any Fraser Valley polling station came from Clearbrook, where they won 56% of the votes. That area is part of the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding, which voted in favour of Liberal candidate Jati Sidhu in 2015. (The riding flipped back to the Conservatives in 2019, with the election of Brad Vis.)

In Abbotsford, both the Liberal and the Conservative strongholds are younger than the average for the city. But that is where the similarities end. The Liberal stronghold has a significantly larger Indo-Canadian population, with close to half the population of South Asian ancestry. In Abbotsford’s highly Conservative areas, the residents are predominantly white, with two in five people of either Dutch, German, or British ancestry.

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Across the Fraser Valley, the most Conservative areas tend to also be inhabited by wealthier residents. In Abbotsford, the residents in the Mt. Lehman make about $1.28 for every dollar made by a resident in west Abbotsford. That trend held true in Chilliwack as well. Although the Conservatives captured nearly every poll in the Chilliwack-Hope riding, their support was not as strong in downtown Chilliwack and Garrison, where more than half of residents voted for either the NDP, Greens, or Liberals. (Both areas had at least one polling station where the NDP won.)

Residents in Conservative strongholds Rosedale and Greendale make more than the average in Chilliwack-Hope, and more than 50% more than residents in downtown Chilliwack. In Garrison, where the NDP also did moderately well, earnings were also above average. Garrison and Rosedale also had a similar number of people in their households, showing that political differences don’t simply come down to the amount of money you make or who you live with.

In Langley, as in Chilliwack, Conservative support was widespread, with the party winning nearly every polling station outside of Langley City. (Within Langley City, the Liberals won nearly a dozen polls, and the NDP won one.) The notable exception was Glen Valley, which saw more than 60% of its votes in favour of the NDP while being surrounded by neighbourhoods that had more than half of their votes in favour of the Conservatives.

In all of the Fraser Valley’s ridings, the strongest support for the left-of-centre parties was in Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon. The Liberals, as previously mentioned, were strongest in west Abbotsford, one of the most-heavily populated parts of the riding. But the NDP and Greens were also relatively popular in the Fraser Canyon, where they won five of the 23 polling stations, and tied with the Conservatives in another. The Greens garnered just over one out of every five votes in the Fraser Canyon. Those areas show the challenge of elections in such a large and diverse riding: despite making up more than half of Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon’s landmass, they had just 12% of the voters.

What happens next in the Fraser Valley will depend in part on how the valley’s diverse neighbourhoods have changed since 2019. Conservative support has decreased over the last decade, with Conservative MPs registering at least 60% of the vote in the mid-2000s. Last year, Fraser Valley Conservatives won with about 50% of the vote—which itself was an improvement from four years prior. Liberal incumbents in Cloverdale-Langley City and Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon were ousted by narrow margins in 2019, and have the potential to switch back. It all rides on the votes counted in all of the valley’s many communities on Sept. 20.

To see how our readers are feeling heading into the 2021 federal election, check out the results from our survey, available in our morning newsletter.

Grace Kennedy

Reporter at Fraser Valley Current

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