MP disagrees with Sask. federal electoral boundary changes

MP disagrees with Sask. federal electoral boundary changes Government  Saskatchewan Government of Canada

The boundaries for federal ridings in Saskatchewan have been redrawn to create a number of urban-only ridings, but Cypress Hills-Grasslands MP David Anderson is not impressed.

“Well, I guess we’re going to have to live with them,” he said. “I felt very strongly as did a number of my colleagues that it was a mistake to change them in that fashion —that they’ve now decided they’re going to change them.”
The work of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Saskatchewan concluded on Aug. 21 when its final report was tabled in the House of Commons. The electoral districts remain at 14, but the commission created urban-only ridings in Regina and Saskatoon.
“I think it’s a mistake and it wouldn’t surprise me if with the next review we go back to the structure that we have now,” Anderson said.
The urban-only ridings represent a significant change from an approach towards mixed urban-rural districts that has been followed in Saskatchewan since the 1966 redistribution. However, from 1933 to 1966 both Regina and Saskatoon were single electoral districts.
“We’ve had an excellent situation in Saskatchewan,” he said. “Each of the MPs has been capable of and required actually to represent both urban and rural constituents and so has had a good understanding of both those issues. We will not have that in the future.”
Liberal MP Ralph Goodale supported the commission’s proposals, but the Conservative Party, which is currently holding 13 seats in Saskatchewan, opposed the creation of urban-only ridings.
“We will have a distinct divide between urban and rural,” Anderson said. “Some of the urban media and some of the folks at the universities in the urban areas seem to think that was a good change. I do not agree with that.”
Independent commissions in each province review Canada’s federal electoral districts every 10 years to account for population changes.
Saskatchewan’s population has increased from 978,933 in 2001 to 1,033,381 in 2012, with most of the growth occurring in the Regina and Saskatoon urban areas.
The Saskatchewan commission was created in February 2012. Its goal was to adjust boundaries to ensure each electoral district contains more or less the same number of people.
Public hearings took place last fall, where presentations were made by 230 people, and the commission  also received almost 3,000 other communications. The creation of urban-only ridings was the focus of most submissions.
The issue even created disagreement among the three commissioners. David Marit, who is the president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, wrote a dissenting report to express his support for blended rural-urban ridings in contrast to the views of Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Ronald Mills and University of Saskatchewan Professor Emeritus of Political Studies Dr. John Courtney in favour of some urban-only ridings.
In the case of Cypress Hills-Grasslands the boundary changes will increase the population in the riding from 60,551 to 67,834.
“The reality was that we needed to expand in order to bring our population up and so will have a new area to the north,” Anderson said. “They’ve put in Kindersley and area and then they will actually take out some of the northeast area right up around that Conquest area and Outlook.”
He felt these adjustments represent a significant change for the riding as a result of the inclusion of Kindersley.
“There hasn’t been a big population centre in the north part of the riding,” he said. “There will be now and whoever will be representing Cypress Hills-Grasslands, will certainly have to take that into consideration.”
The commission’s final report will be used by Election Canada’s chief electoral officer to draft a representation order, which is expected to take place this fall.
The new electoral map for Saskatchewan will be used for the first general election called at least seven months after the date of the representation order.
The commission’s final report is available online at the website:

via SW Sask News – Prairie Post – Prairie Post

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