Originally published on the DaninOttawa.com site on February 28th, 2013.
Further to my prior post on this topic– the Standing Committee on Procedures and House Affairs (in Ottawa) provides an opportunity for Members of Parliament to put forward a submission with respect to the Electoral Boundaries Commission recommendations. Each submission must be accompanied by the signatures of 10 other Members of Parliament in order to be accepted by the Clerk of the Committee. I can now confirm that I have put forward a submission that has been accepted by the Clerk of the PROC committee with respect to the electoral boundaries commission. Once the submissions are publicly posted I will provide a link for those who are interested in this subject.
From my perspective, electoral boundaries submissions are a potentially delicate topic. By design this process is intended to be an independent one that is free from political influence. “Gerrymandering” is a legitimate concern and there is a fine line between suggesting boundaries that are in the best interests of the people whom we are elected to represent and the partisan political interests of a party given that the location of a boundary can have some bearing on the electoral prospects within a region. It also must be noted that what may be a well-intended suggestion by one can in turn be viewed as politically motived by another. It is for these reasons that I have refrained from engaging in the debate as to where specific boundaries should be located– in my view this remains the responsibility of the independent and nonpartisan electoral boundaries commission. However as I have also stated in my previous comments– I believe that representation and the importance of accessibility between citizens and their member of Parliament MUST be taken into greater consideration than the currently suggested electoral boundary recommendations propose. Conversely– common sense must also be taken into consideration– an expectation that a small rural community should be expected to drive several hundred kilometres over at times treacherous roads to reach an MP when there is one located much closer is simply not a realistic one nor is it fair for rural residents.
Ultimately my submission reflected these points and asked that when there is a population imbalance between ridings (as is the case in our region of British Columbia) every effort should be made to ensure that the greater density of urban ridings is maximized from a population perspective to help reduce the size of rural ridings in terms of both population and area. As I have stated previously the current electoral boundary proposals do the opposite and I believe that creates an unacceptable situation for rural residents. At this point it is unclear what actions will next occur however I also believe that my NDP MP colleague Alex Atamanenko will also be putting forward a submission in this matter. I will provide further updates on this subject as they are available.
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