Recently in Canada Category


Update (2011-10-16): Indeed, I've now added the political parties layers (the colors represent the proportion of votes by a party over the total number of votes) and a voters' turnout layer (nb of votes compiled over the nb of registered voters). If there are problems in interaction or information layout, please tell the interaction designer (me).

I finally got around last week to update my election maps to 2011. The new interface now lets you get the maps in good old 2-D Google Maps if your system doesn't support the Google Earth plugin.

The new version also lets you compare layers between each other. For now, I'm only offering the default "margin of victory" map for 2008 and 2011. Pretty soon, I will post maps specific to parties and the turnout rate. You are welcome to submit ideas of other geographic analyses.

Also, I've decided to release the code for this project to the open on GitHub.

Screenshot-Contributions - Google Chrome

After a few sleepless nights, the political financing map (carte des contributions aux partis politiques) is finally out.

The great thing about doing this project is that we started with what is supposed to be public data and made it actually public. We downloaded it, refined it and mapped it. Although I didn't get around to posting the geocoding results, essentially all the raw data of about 500,000+ entries is made available to the public through Google Fusion Tables. I even used the data I extracted to create my own non-Cyberpresse visualisation (en français).

I think the amount of data displayed will be overwhelming to anyone. Users of the map will be interested to see around places where they live and places that they know, so I think it will be a great platform for crowdsourcing too. I hope you enjoy the map!

Montréal en trois temps

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Dernière d'une série de trois, voici un tracé de la provenance des contributions faites aux partis politiques et associations de circonscription en 2009. L'outil d'où proviennent ces captures d'écran sera publié tard vendredi soir, heure de l'est. Samedi matin, la surprise sortira.

Contributions aux conservateurs 2009 - région de Montréal
Parti conservateur

Contributions aux libéraux 2009 - région de Montréal
Parti libéral

Contributions aux bloquistes - région de Montréal
Bloc Québécois

(Les dons au NPD et au Parti vert dans la région métropolitaine sont trop minimes pour être montrés ici.)

Vancouver en trois temps

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Like I did for Toronto, but this time for Vancouver.

Contributions to Conservatives 2009 - Vancouver area
Conservative Party

Contributions to Liberals 2009 - Vancouver area
Liberal Party

Contributions to New Democrats 2009 - Vancouver area
New Democratic Party

Toronto en trois temps

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These are the compiled financial contributions to national instances of political parties and riding associations for 2009, distributed among polling divisions (from postal codes of contributors, geocoded when possible). The data was obtained from Elections Canada's website. More to come later, links to come later.

Contributions to Conservatives 2009 - Toronto area
Conservative Party

Contributions to Liberals 2009 - Toronto area
Liberal Party

Contributions to New Democrats 2009 - Toronto area
New Democratic Party

Toronto: Electoral Donations in Canada

Sometime in early 2009, I came up with the Canadian electoral financial contributions project. At the time, I thought it would be awesome to do something with the data that Elections Canada, an independent federal agency in charge of conducting elections and referendums in Canada, releases publicly about funders of political parties. The website contains different ways to access the information, whether it is political party or riding association annual returns or by candidate's expenses during an election.

I wrote a basic how-to, pointing out how obfuscated the browsing of the data was. You can technically download CSVs of the data, but Elections Canada's servers would time-out if you asked for the entire dataset at once.

Screenshot-Financial Reports: Candidate's Electoral Campaign Return - Mozilla Firefox
Try to do mashups with this

There were also some cleverly hidden public data that consists in the postal code of a single contributor. Using a Web browser, it was impossible to compile this data into a database. But using simple scripts with a command-line tool like curl, it was possible to know the location that a donor used to make its donation, including private residence. It might be of questionable good taste to reveal those on a map, but in an era of data mashups and visualisation, it makes perfect sense for what is after all public data.

Michael Sabia: Electoral Donations in Canada
Michael Sabia (Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec President / CEO) gave money to the Liberals

At the time, I demonstrated my method with only 2008 data and let the project die for lack of interest and time. In the meanwhile, I moved to Hong Kong and started a new career over here, and have been working on data projects.

Now that elections are looming in Canada, and with an improved skill set, I've unearthed the project a week or so ago, and started really digging into it since yesterday. I already reached the stage of collecting all the 2007-2009 data from annual transaction return, and the postal codes of contributors. I am now geocoding the postal codes and will be thinking of ways to offer a better filter and search the data. Aside from mapping the data geographically, I think that it would be interesting to show trends in the data, of where the money went, etc. For the public, it would be interesting to offer a focus on where celebrities and important people put their money, just like the Huffington Post's Fundrace did in the US.


Update 2011-04-16: This is the raw data

Might be at the other end of the world, but I'm not missing this election for nothin' in the world... These are links to results by poll in the October 2008 election for the four ridings in play. They're all safe to stay in the same hands (Cumberland's Bill Casey was an independent, but formerly Conservative who voted with them as well).

Cumberland - Colchester - Musquodoboit Valley:
Montmagney - L'Islet - Kamouraska - Rivière-du-Loup:
New Westminster - Coquitlam:



Inspired by Stephen Taylor's post (and my own past project from Fall 2008), I set out to produce a website where people could navigate election results by riding, but also by poll.

I used cartographic data from the website. I imported the Shapefiles to a PostgreSQL database with Postgis. Then, I processed results by polling divisions from the 2008 election, data available on the Elections Canada website. It was put in a separate table on the same database. A custom program in Python using the very handy libkml (a code library developed and supported by Google) took the data and outputted pretty KML code. It was packed as a KMZ and uploaded to my webspace. [E-mail me, if you want to exchange ideas on the code]

The webpage itself is rich in JavaScript and the code can be seen here. I use hashes to make the webpage bookmarkable and loadable with a given riding pre-loaded.

For instance, the Papineau riding (24048) can be accessed through this link:

The website requires the Google Earth plugin, available for Windows and Mac. It works very smoothly on my old computer (bought in 2003).

You could also download the individual KMZ files (they are in fact zip files, so on Windows you would rename them with .zip and unzip them with your usual utility). They are at: . However, if I post updates (which I will), you won't see them.

Greater Toronto - map of 2008 federal election results

Toronto - map of 2008 federal election results

In these two shots of Greater Toronto, I coloured the polls per winner, with shades representing the margin of victory.

Not too surprisingly, the NDP dominate the most urban neighbourhoods, while the suburbs are shared between Conservatives and Liberals, with a greater dominance by Deep Blue in the outer rings, and that of Deep Red within the inner suburbs.

Canada 2008 election - Montréal

Canada 2008 election - Montréal

In Montreal, the portrait is a bit more interesting, with very deep divisions. Most of the area outside of the island of Montreal votes Bloc, so does the North-east part of Montreal, where a French-speaking majority resides.

The only places that're notably blue? Hudson, an old English-speaking town and NDP leader Jack Layton's hometown, too. And Saint-Lazare.

Stéphane Dion caves in

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Stéphane s'écrase - Réplique de Stéphane Dion (2 of 2)

We like Stéphane Dion, but some three minutes into his response to Stephen Harper's address to the nation, the camera awkwardly zooms in into Dion, without maintaining the LPC leader in the middle of the screen. On TV, it was even more noticeable, as he had the RDI ticker right below his throat...

On the other hand, with how closely they shot this, we are able to appreciate the names of some of the books composing Dion's bookshelf. First, he read Hot Air: Meeting Canada's Climate Change Challenge, by Jeffrey Simpson et al. And then, you have 365 Jours pour réfléchir à notre Terre, a photo book by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, famed for his aerial pictures.

The black chair combined with the dark suit made Mr. Dion look like a hunchback...

Maybe they did this quickly to make it a "live" reply to Harper - or maybe the Liberals or the Opposition Leader's office are really out of funds to make a truly compelling video (which also came late to medias and looked a little "warmer" in the colors).

Cyberpresse talks about it. prise deux

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layton et vers 15 minutes +20 mins (English debate)

Hey, I finally get to use on the Canadian party leaders' debate. Harper's getting gang-banged again. He sounds very patronizing by calling every other leader by their first name while they in turn keep calling him Mr. Harper. The host is nothing as good as Stéphan Bureau.

(Hey, it's like Elizabeth May is defending Stéphane Dion!) Bandwidth Limit Exceeded 509

Émilie Heymans was at the top of the rankings before the last round, posts a 90... until Chinese diver CHEN Ruolin posts a monstrous 100! Heymans gets a satisfactory silver (en français).

It may have happened before the medal, but Heymans' website is down because of bandwidth limit exceeded.

Comme les Chinois

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Comme les Chinois

Last few hours of 2007, and I am launching "Comme les Chinois", a blog on Chinese-Canadianess/Quebecness in this country's both official languages.

It's sort of odd that Stéphane Dion is now the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and alternative to Stephen Harper at the next elections. For followers of The West Wing, they would be delighted to hear that what is wished for in the States could become a reality in Canada: Dion was a professor of Political Science at the University of Montreal, before jumping into federal politics as a Minister of Inter-Governmental Affairs. He was also very close to former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, and was one of the only ministers under Chrétien to have remained a cabinet minister with his successor, Paul Martin, as a very successful Environment Minister. Stéphane Dion had then chaired the Conference of Montreal on Climate Change. But, it is often being reminded that the Libs have failed to even come close to their Kyoto targets (I don't remember the figures - but I know they exist, having heard/read about them).

In the Province of Quebec, probably because of his strong views on the place of Quebec in Canada, Dion is probably not the most popular politician out there. And he basically has the image of a geek (well, not only the image - IS a big geek, writing academic papers and shit before doing politics; just like the front-runner during the whole race, the ever-vulnerable Michael Ignatieff). On the other hand, is also someone with an image of someone clean, playing the game for real political convictions, rather than the attraction of power.

Edit: Here is the BBC News site talking about it.

Breaking Point: The DVD

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CBC archives, and Election Night from the Radio-Canada archives (in French).

I bought the DVD, in its French version. I wanted to get the English version, so that I can eventually show it to non-French viewers. A passionate story, my plan B has recently been to escape to China, although it doesn't make much sense, b/c I don't feel more attached to Canada that I am to Quebec. I am still more proficient in French, although I work and write (here) in English. Damn Jacques Parizeau! Or bless him, b/c all he did on his concession speech was to divide the country even more with his famous "we lost 'cuz of money and ethnic votes" (which is probably true). I think it's none of my business. I also think I am confused (like a lot of Quebecers), but I like the idea of protecting Quebec culture, rights; while Canada looked for its breaking point by rejecting constitutional reforms at Meech Lake talks earlier under the reign of the Conservatives in the late 80s. So much drama, loving it every second.

Ten years after 93.52% of the Quebec population participated in the vote (The No won by a margin of 1%!), people have hanged the constitutional debate back in the cedar wood closet. There was no change, and Canadians are currently enjoying the release of the Gomery commission drama on the sponsorship scandal.

I think the point to make the rest of Canada understand is that Quebec is different, made up of people different from them, by their culture and the language they use. Actually it's a whole, Quebec with its Anglos and Francos; it's pretty different from the rest of Canada.

I suppose Brazil was weirder and destroyed more carton board sets than Time Bandits did. I was going to say it's the stuff my dreams are made of. Not the substance of it, just the feeling of it (the claustrophobicity), dark interiors, and that feeling of being trapped in an industrial expanse. Not quite. I wanted Brazil to end, b/c the popcorn felt cold, dry and bland, and b/c noone likes to be reminded of what the land of their bad dreams is made of.

I'm not sure whether it helped to destroy a perfectly going day, but was there too much msg soya sauce in that 干炒牛河 ("gon chao ngau ho" - beef noodles stir-fry)? A place in Chinatown II near Concordia, opened by one of the waiters from that 京都 ("Beijing", although it's "capital city" if translated properly) restaurant we used to go to a lot, and who saw me and my brother grow old. To be fair, the seafood udon soup seemed quite fine, even with perfectly green baby bok choi cut in quarters, and a variety of other things in it.

I have the Winamp on shuffle (like the Habs' lines when things aren't working). So I hit this Macross Christmas song from someone's Xmas mix...

Point de rupture

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The 1995 referendum on Quebec independence from Canada was some 10 years ago. Extremely entertaining documentary produced by Radio-Canada (our state broadcasting corporation) is currently airing. You can even buy the DVD, woaw. I was obviously too young to remember most of what preceded the climax of the campaign. But it appears clearly to me that back then I would've thought it "cool" if Quebec voted Yes, just b/c I was a teenager looking for a thrill similar to government change. Point de rupture, documentary in two parts, first aired and September, and now on re-run, as we hit the 10th anniversary tonight.

The documentary really comes across with the sense of theatrical drama. The strange bedfellows (competing interest groups in Quebec under the same banner), the near-death experiences (Lucien Bouchard and the flesh-eating bacteria), the all-mighty God looking upon the characters (showed by unclassified confidential communication between the American consul in Quebec City and Bill Clinton), and a fantastic open-ending (the No wins by a margin of about 0.1%, while it was thought to defeat the Yes by at least 10 points). *That's* a great show!

Toronto (actually rimes with Totoro)

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Was about eating and more eating. >_>

(Photos: Saturday | Sunday | Monday)

The week before going, my mom called her friends in Toronto and was then told that her old friends from that same school in Vietnam (who were classmates of my mom and pop later in Montreal) were having their annual get-together party on the same weekend. So the food was terrible on Saturday night (Chinese fondue for 50+ people, how do you expect that to be good?), but I met a lot of new people (the kids) and some I probably may've met before (the parents). A surprising evening anyways with bad food, pretty good refreshing conversation and socializing at random. Next door from the fondue place was a cosmo-bowling range facility (in the dark with fluo lights) where we played after dinner (a break from watching the older folks being taught salsa by one of the kids couple). The day after we had (again pretty bad) all-you-can-eat sushi at one new place called Saké (what can you expect for 20CAD per head?) on the ground floor on the Southeast corner of the Pacific Mall (太古廣場), certainly the largest and most well-known Chinese shopping mall in Toronto.

During the day on Sunday, I wandered Pacific Mall, a maze of a shopping mall, totally organized like mini-malls in China (small shops arranged in uniform rows, such that you can never tell whether you walked somewhere before). A gruesome 3-hour experience where I spent 0$, for not wanting to give hand to triads (all DVDs are pirated), and not finding some of the less-than-pop Japanese stuff I usually like (let's see, they had Ayumi, Do As Infinity, Misia, Ai Otsuka, L'Arc-en-Ciel, Ayumi?). (And went for a 2-hour hunt at giant Canadian-Chinese supermarket with all the attributes of a supermarket, packed with Chinese people and food...)

Still, great Chinese food. is the only reason to come to TO. It's a very different country. It feels like being in a different country. We went downtown on Sunday morning, to take quick pictures of landmarks (CN Tower, Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre, Chinatown, UoT, Queen's Park, University Avenue) and everything seems so much bigger and spaced out. The Chinese suburbs, Markham and Richmond Hill are just so infinitely uniform and extended. To someone who didn't bring a map along (nor did my parents) and who doesn't make the usual effort to find oneself on a map when in a new city, the illusion of repetitiveness is just too strong to cope with. The suburbs are built like how I build my cities on SimCity (I choose a flat piece of land if I can, and then I write down roads perfectly parallel and perpendicular to each other, and fill with low density residential areas). Suburban Toronto must be extremely boring, and even more difficult to cope with than Suburban Montreal.

On Saturday night, I caught the Margaret Cho stand-up "I'm The One That I Want" on the Bravo channel and stayed up until 3:30AM b/c of it. >_>

Even a trip to Toronto can change you from home. And I guess I am a somewhat mature, confident and independent person who just hasn't had the chance to bloom. Food is great, and if you can't have it in Montreal, you can still learn to make it (quite more rewarding also).

Ballade à Toronto

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Jean Leloup - Ballade à Toronto

Parce que je vais à Toronto ce week-end! :D If one misses HK, while from Montreal, then Toronto is the best/closest surrogates of all. Nothing as closely cool as Jean Leloup's trek to Toronto, I'm going there for very urban eating and shopping of Asian stuffs. >_> In Montreal, things are different, perhaps more interesting, as you can effortlessly live un-ghettoized. Hardly can, in TO's Chinese suburbs (last time, I tried the game of spotting a gweilo in other cars - and lost so badly).

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