Grande Prairie (provincial electoral district)

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This article is about the past provincial electoral district. For the federal electoral district, see Grande Prairie—Mackenzie.

Grande Prairie was a provincial electoral district in Alberta, Canada. It was mandated to return a single member to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1930 to 1993.

Boundary history[edit]

The riding was created out of the southern half of Peace River in 1930, and reduced in size for the 1940 election when its northern area was transferred to the new district of Spirit River. In 1986, the district was further reduced to the city of Grande Prairie and rural areas to its west and south. The riding was abolished in 1993, with the northern half of the city transferred to the new district of Grande Prairie-Smoky, and the remainder becoming Grande Prairie-Wapiti.

Representation history[edit]

Members of the Legislative Assembly for Grande Prairie
Assembly Years Member Party
See Peace River 1905-1930
7th 1930 - 1935 Hugh Allen United Farmers
8th 1935 - 1940 William Sharpe Social Credit
9th 1940 - 1944 Lewis O'Brien Unity Movement
10th 1944 - 1948 Ira McLaughlin Social Credit
11th 1948 - 1952
12th 1952 - 1955
13th 1955 - 1959
14th 1959 - 1963
15th 1963 - 1967
16th 1967 - 1971
17th 1971 - 1975 Winston Backus Progressive Conservative
18th 1975 - 1979
19th 1979 - 1982 Elmer Borstad
20th 1982 - 1986 Bob Elliott
21st 1986 - 1989
22nd 1989 - 1993
See Grande Prairie-Smoky and Grande Prairie-Wapiti after 1993

When the district of Peace River was split in 1930, incumbent MLA Hugh Allen chose to run in the new district of Grande Prairie. Since no other candidates challenged him, no election was held, and he was acclaimed.

In 1935, Allen finished third, and Social Credit candidate William Sharpe picked the district up as part of their province-wide sweep. However, he would serve only one term as MLA.

In 1940, the traditional parties attempted to defeat Social Credit by running joint candidates as independents in what became known as the Unity Movement. Their candidate in Grande Prairie, Lewis O'Brien, defeated Sharpe on the second count. He, too, would serve only one term as MLA, and did not run for re-election. O'Brien was the only opposition member ever elected in Grande Prairie, making the riding something of a bellwether while it existed.

Social Credit took Grande Prairie back in the 1944 election, with candidate Ira McLaughlin easily cruising to victory. He was re-elected six more times, serving as MLA until 1971.

Progressive Conservative candidate Winston Backus won Grande Prairie in 1971. The PCs held the riding until it was abolished, but Backus served only two terms, retiring in 1979. The next PC candidate, Elmer Borstad, served only one term.

The riding's final MLA was Bob Elliott, who became MLA in 1982 and served three terms, until Grande Prairie was split in 1993.

Election results[edit]

1930s[edit]

Alberta general election, 1930
Party Candidate Votes[1]
United Farmers Hugh Allen Acclaimed
Total valid votes 0
United Farmers pickup new district.
Alberta general election, 1935
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Social Credit William Sharpe 2,741 37.04%
Liberal W.J. Thomson 2,387 32.25%
United Farmers Hugh Allen 1,809 24.44%
Conservative J.S. McKenzie 464 6.27%
Second count
Social Credit William Sharpe 3,142 50.65% +13.61%
Liberal W.J. Thomson 3,061 49.35% +17.10%
  Neither 1,198
Total valid votes 7,401
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 401
Electors / Turnout 10,317 75.62%
Social Credit gain from United Farmers Swing -

Final count swing reflects increase in vote share from the first count.

1940s[edit]

Alberta general election, 1940
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Independent Movement Lewis O'Brien 1,998 47.26%
Social Credit William Sharpe 1,556 36.80% -0.24%
Co-operative Commonwealth William Rigby 674 15.94%
Second count
Independent Movement Lewis O'Brien 2,233 55.59% +8.33%
Social Credit William Sharpe 1,784 44.41% +7.61%
  Neither 211
Total valid votes 4,228
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 226
Electors / Turnout 6,328 70.39% -5.23%
Independent Movement gain from Social Credit Swing +23.75%
Alberta general election, 1944
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Social Credit Ira McLaughlin 2,366 55.93% +19.13%
Co-operative Commonwealth William Rigby 1,128 26.67% +10.73%
Independent D.W. Patterson 736 17.40%
Total valid votes 4,230
Rejected, spoiled, and declined -
Electors / Turnout - -
Social Credit gain from Independent Movement Swing +4.20%
Alberta general election, 1948
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Social Credit Ira McLaughlin 2,952 62.29% +6.36%
Co-operative Commonwealth Leslie Harris 1,019 21.50% -5.17%
Liberal Patrick Croken 768 16.21%
Total valid votes 4,739
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 373
Electors / Turnout 7,468 68.45%
Social Credit hold Swing +5.77%

1950s[edit]

Alberta general election, 1952
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Social Credit Ira McLaughlin 2,967 61.76% -0.53%
Liberal John Cox 935 19.46% +3.25%
Co-operative Commonwealth Percy Johnson 902 18.78% -2.72%
Total valid votes 4,804
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 356
Electors / Turnout 7,886 65.43% -3.02%
Social Credit hold Swing -1.89%
Alberta general election, 1955
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Social Credit Ira McLaughlin 3,240 57.49% -4.27%
Liberal Mary Gray 1,481 26.28% +6.82%
Co-operative Commonwealth James Hughson 538 9.55% -9.23%
Conservative Paul Galway 377 6.69%
Total valid votes 5,636
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 482
Electors / Turnout 9,694 70.77% +4.57%
Social Credit hold Swing -5.55%

In 1959, Alberta abandoned instant runoff voting in rural districts, instead electing MLAs by the first past the post method. Although a second round had not been needed in Grande Prairie since 1940, this change is evident in the dramatic drop in rejected (incorrectly marked) ballots.

Alberta general election, 1959
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Social Credit Ira McLaughlin 4,213 65.62% +8.13%
Progressive Conservative David Williamson 1,391 21.67% +14.98%
Liberal Mac Perkins 816 12.71% -13.57
Total valid votes 6,420
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 19
Electors / Turnout 9,694 66.42% -4.35%
Social Credit hold Swing -3.43%

1960s[edit]

Alberta general election, 1963
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Social Credit Ira McLaughlin 4,763 73.03% +7.41%
Liberal Ed Kimpe 997 15.29% +2.58%
New Democratic Charles Evaskevich 762 11.68%
Total valid votes 6,522
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 8
Electors / Turnout 11,368 57.44% -8.98%
Social Credit hold Swing +2.42%
Alberta general election, 1967
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Social Credit Ira McLaughlin 4,847 55.54% -17.49%
New Democratic Alan Bush 2,748 31.49% +19.81%
Liberal George Repka 1,132 12.97% -2.32%
Total valid votes 8,727
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 25
Electors / Turnout 12,666 69.10% +11.66%
Social Credit hold Swing -18.65%

1970s[edit]

Alberta general election, 1971
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Progressive Conservative Winston Backus 4,553 42.76%
Social Credit William Bowes 4,104 38.54% -17.00%
New Democratic Arthur Macklin 1,992 18.71% -12.78%
Total valid votes 10,649
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 32
Electors / Turnout 14,157 75.45% +6.35%
Progressive Conservative gain from Social Credit Swing +29.88%
Alberta general election, 1975
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Progressive Conservative Winston Backus 6,466 61.27% +18.51%
New Democratic Ross Campbell 1,962 18.59% -0.12%
Social Credit John Baergen 1,475 13.98% -24.56%
Liberal Gordon Astle 651 6.17%
Total valid votes 10,554
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 32
Electors / Turnout 16,615 63.71% -11.74%
Progressive Conservative hold Swing +9.32%
Alberta general election, 1979
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Progressive Conservative Elmer Borstad 6,313 50.26% -11.01%
Social Credit Donald Wood 3,380 26.91% +12.93%
New Democratic Ross Campbell 2,266 18.04% -0.55%
Liberal Helen Rice 601 4.79% -1.38%
Total valid votes 12,560
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 5
Electors / Turnout 20,718 60.79% -2.92%
Progressive Conservative hold Swing -11.97%

1980s[edit]

Alberta general election, 1982
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Progressive Conservative Bob Elliott 9,555 58.22% +7.96%
New Democratic Bernie Desrosiers 3,280 19.98% +1.94%
Western Canada Concept Jack Smith 2,249 13.70%
Independent Jake Paetkau 504 3.07%
Social Credit Roy Housworth 494 3.01% -23.90%
Liberal Colin Nash 331 2.02% -2.77%
Total valid votes 16,413
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 31
Electors / Turnout 24,639 66.74% +5.95%
Progressive Conservative hold Swing +3.01%
Alberta general election, 1986
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Progressive Conservative Bob Elliott 6,239 61.58% +3.36%
New Democratic Bernie Desrosiers 3,095 30.55% +10.57%
Representative Andy Haugen 557 5.50%
Independent Roy Housworth 240 2.37%
Total valid votes 10,131
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 26
Electors / Turnout 22,209 45.73% -21.01%
Progressive Conservative hold Swing -3.61%
Alberta general election, 1989
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Progressive Conservative Bob Elliott 5,319 52.62% -8.96%
New Democratic Evelyn Vardalas 2,696 26.67% -3.88%
Liberal Irv Macklin 1,611 15.94%
Social Credit Murray Gauvreau 482 4.77%
Total valid votes 10,108
Rejected, spoiled, and declined 20
Electors / Turnout 22,850 44.32% -1.41%
Progressive Conservative hold Swing -2.54%

Plebiscite results[edit]

1957 liquor plebiscite[edit]

1957 Alberta liquor plebiscite results: Grande Prairie[2]
Question A: Do you approve additional types of outlets for the
sale of beer, wine and spirituous liquor subject to a local vote?
Ballot Choice Votes %
Yes 1,462 58.57%
No 1,034 41.43%
Total Votes 2,496 100%
Rejected, Spoiled and Declined 9
8,907 Eligible Electors, Turnout 28.12%

On October 30, 1957 a stand alone plebiscite was held province wide in all 50 of the then current provincial electoral districts in Alberta. The government decided to consult Alberta voters to decide on liquor sales and mixed drinking after a divisive debate in the Legislature. The plebiscite was intended to deal with the growing demand for reforming antiquated liquor control laws.[3]

The plebiscite was conducted in two parts. Question A asked in all districts, asked the voters if the sale of liquor should be expanded in Alberta, while Question B asked in a handful of districts within the corporate limits of Calgary and Edmonton asked if men and woman were allowed to drink together in establishments.[2]

Province wide Question A of the plebiscite passed in 33 of the 50 districts while Question B passed in all five districts. Grande Prairie voted in favour of the proposal by a solid majority. Voter turnout in the district was abysmal, and one of the lowest districts in the province falling well under the province wide average of 46%.[2]

Official district returns were released to the public on December 31, 1957.[2] The Social Credit government in power at the time did not considered the results binding.[4] However the results of the vote led the government to repeal all existing liquor legislation and introduce an entirely new Liquor Act.[5]

Municipal districts lying inside electoral districts that voted against the Plebiscite were designated Local Option Zones by the Alberta Liquor Control Board and considered effective dry zones, business owners that wanted a license had to petition for a binding municipal plebiscite in order to be granted a license.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Alberta Heritage Foundation: Grande Prairie Results". Archived from the original on 2010-10-24. Retrieved 2017-03-24. 
  2. ^ a b c d Alberta Gazette. 53 (December 31 ed.). Government of Alberta. 1957. pp. 2,247–2,249. 
  3. ^ "Albertans Vote 2 to 1 For More Liquor Outlets". Vol L No 273. The Lethbridge Herald. October 31, 1957. pp. 1–2. 
  4. ^ "No Sudden Change In Alberta Drinking Habits Is Seen". Vol L No 267. The Lethbridge Herald. October 24, 1957. p. 1. 
  5. ^ "Entirely New Act On Liquor". Vol LI No 72. The Lethbridge Herald. March 5, 1958. p. 1. 
  6. ^ "Bill 81". Alberta Bills 12th Legislature 1st Session. Government of Alberta. 1958. p. 40.