Tuesday, 28 August 2012 10:16

Different views on redrawing of federal electoral map in Saskatchewan

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The shaded area shows the proposed boundaries for the Cypress Hills-Grasslands federal riding, indicating an eastward extension of the existing riding boundary. The shaded area shows the proposed boundaries for the Cypress Hills-Grasslands federal riding, indicating an eastward extension of the existing riding boundary. Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan's growing and shifting population may result in the redrawing of boundaries for federal ridings but MPs have different views about the current proposals that will be under consideration at public hearings this fall.

 

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Saskatchewan is proposing five exclusive urban electoral districts in the province, seven primarily rural districts and two districts that will be a rural-urban mixture.

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 commission proposals for strictly urban seats will break with 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.

Cypress Hills-Grasslands MP David Anderson would prefer a continuation of the current hub-and-spoke system of mixed urban-rural districts.

“I don’t agree with the changes,” he said. “It’s going to make some MPs specialists in urban issues only. Others will have to deal with both urban and rural issues. Those of us in rural ridings need to be very strong in our position that we prefer to stay with the hub and spoke system.”

But Wascana MP Ralph Goodale said the Commission's proposals are a step in the right direction because the current electoral map is essentially 20 years old.

“Every MP from Saskatchewan has to understand the province and the province is a changing, growing dynamic,” he mentioned. “When you’re a Member of Parliament you never restrict yourself to just the four corners of your own constituency.”

The three commission members are Court of Queen's Bench Justice Ronald Mills, University of Saskatchewan Professor Emeritus of Political Studies Dr. John Courtney and Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities President David Marit.

“Any map is always a compromise but I think this new map provides a more accurate reflection of what Saskatchewan is all about,” Goodale said. “The old map was all biased in one direction. It was 14 ridings that were all these very strange urban-rural mixes that is not the reality of Saskatchewan today.”

The Commission is proposing an eastward boundary shift for Cypress Hills-Grasslands that will increase the population in the riding from 60,551 to 66.693. Anderson said the vast area covered by his riding presents a real challenge.

“Every rural riding will have to be larger because they have chosen to make several ridings strictly urban,” he said. “So in the past where there’s been a mix of urban and rural, that higher population density in the urban areas has allowed those rural ridings to be a little bit smaller.”

Saskatchewan residents will be able to present their views about the proposed federal electoral map during a series of public hearings in the fall. Swift Current will be a venue for a hearing, which is scheduled to take place at the Credit Union iPlex on Sept. 18 at 10 a.m.

Anyone wishing to make a presentation at a hearing is requested to send a notice to the Commission no later than Sept. 3. More detail and contact information are available at the website www.federal-redistribution.ca

 

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Matthew Liebenberg

Reporter/Photographer

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