Follow the money: mapping donations from Harperland to Ford Nation

The Conservative government in Ottawa has been tiptoeing around the Rob Ford spectacle for weeks.

Employment minister Jason Kenney finally broke ranks this week, when he called on Ford to resign as Mayor of Toronto. Kenney said Ford was an "embarrassment" who brought "dishonor" to Canada’s largest city. Among his Conservative colleagues in Ottawa, Kenney is pretty lonely in the "Ford should resign" camp. 

No wonder federal Tories have been twisting themselves into a pretzel over Ford’s troubles. High-profile federal Conservatives didn’t just attend the annual Fordfest barbecues. The Conservative Party made sure its supporters in the suburbs of Toronto (905) ponied up for Ford’s campaign to get him elected in the neighbouring municipality of Toronto (416). Now they want to quietly slink away under the radar.

Good thing social geographer Trevor McKenzie-Smith mapped the money for PressProgress.

McKenzie-Smith analyzed campaign donations to Rob Ford’s 2010 campaign, by federal electoral districts. He looked at Toronto (416) and beyond its borders in the Greater Toronto Area (905) using campaign contributions data from the City of Toronto and Elections Canada. He merged the two files to see where there was overlap in financial support for Ford Nation and Harperland.

McKenzie-Smith distributed all of Ford's 2010 contributions into Ontario Forward Sortation Areas (FSAs), then summed the total for all of those inside Toronto and those outside Toronto. The distribution of the data was done using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), mapping software that allows you to link tables to spatial files (maps) and then do analysis of that data based on where it is spatially. This allowed McKenzie-Smith to locate each address into the right FSA.

Below are two maps – the darker the area on the map, the more cash was donated to Ford. For example, the darkest brown shades in the first map ("The Ontario map") represent FSAs where Ford brought in between $45,000 and $82,671. That means that each of the darkest areas brought in donations in that range.

The white areas are where Ford brought in the least amount of contributions – between $200 and $4,470 in each of the areas. The yellow and orange colours in between represent ranges that fall between the top and bottom tiers; their contributions ranges are listed in the legends.

In the second map ("The Toronto map"), the dark brown segments also represent the highest concentrations of cash and the white segments are the lowest. The contributions ranges are slightly different than the Ontario map ($36,470 to $76,165 for the darkest FSAs in the Toronto map as opposed to $45,000 to $82,671 in the Ontario map), but the idea is the same: the darker the colour, the more cash for Ford.



The Ontario map

McKenzie-Smith’s map of the Greater Toronto Area shows a big chunk of cash raised by Ford came from outside the city – where people couldn’t even vote for him. Over $623,000 flowed in from the GTA, accounting for 33.5% of money raised. Turns out that one out of every three dollars donated to the Ford campaign in 2010 came from outside Toronto.

As you can see, overwhelmingly, this cash came from mostly federal electoral districts held by the Conservatives, including Vaughan, Thornhill, Richmond Hill, Oak Ridges-Markham and Newmarket-Aurora.

McKenzie-Smith drilled down even further in one riding, and found there is significant overlap between campaign contributors who supported both Ford’s 2010 campaign and Julian Fantino’s 2011 campaign in Vaughan. In fact, Fantino, a Conservative cabinet minister, brought in $16,450 from people who, had just a year earlier, donated $46,650 to the Toronto mayor.

Click on the map to view it at full size.



The Toronto map

McKenzie-Smith found that 66.5% of Ford’s 2010 donations came from inside the city, totalling $1,238,240. The Toronto map shows that Ford did well in areas found inside his home riding of Etobicoke North. Next up were Tory-held ridings of Etobicoke Centre and Don Valley West.

So remember: when you attack Ford Nation, you’re also attacking, in many cases, federal Conservatives who donated plenty of cash to Ford's election campaign. No wonder Conservatives in Ottawa find themselves in a pickle over Ford's meltdown.


Click on the map to view it at full-size.

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