Proposed changes to the federal election boundaries of Saanich-Gulf Islands have not drawn any concerns from three municipalities on the Saanich Peninsula.
The commission charged with proposing a new electoral map for British Columbia’s federal ridings was in Victoria on Wednesday for one of 27 public hearings in the province.
The Canadian constitution requires a review of federal electoral district after each decennial (10-year) census to reflect changes and movements in Canada’s population. The porcess started in October 2021 and British Columbia is set to gain one additional riding for a total of 43. Overall, current plans call for Canada’s number of electoral ridings to go up by four to 342.
Sidney’s Chief Administrative Officer Randy Humble said the municipality is aware that the commission recommended that the electoral district of Saanich-Gulf Islands be expanded further south to reflect population growth in the Capital Regional District. Specifically, the current proposal would see the riding incorporate an area roughly resembling a triangle from West Saanich Road to Highway 17, an area that includes Elk and Beaver Lakes.
Sidney, North Saanich and Central Saanich will remain part of the revised riding with a proposed population of 122,147. Greater Victoria retains its four current ridings and Vancouver Island as a whole retains its seven ridings with some changes to accommodate growth in the Nanaimo area.
Plans call for the process to be completed by September 2023 with a formal order and the changes would apply in the first general election called at least seven months after the proclamation of the order.
Elections Canada said on the website explaining the process that it believes these changes will not come into effect until April 1, 2024, at the earliest.
The commission itself consists of three members, chaired by Justice Mary Saunders, as well as by political scientist Ken Carty and Stewart Ladyman, an entrepreneur, education consultant and former member of the British Columbia Electoral Boundaries Commission.
Canada does not used a strict representation-by-population model in distributing seats across the provinces. Some provinces including British Columbia are under-represented, while other provinces are over-represented thanks to various provisions to accommodate historical and linguistic realities under the existing allocation formula subject to various constitutional provisions.
May confirmed that the proposed boundaries but won’t impact the Saanich Peninsula while also expressing dissatisfaction with the process. “I’m not a big fan of changing riding boundaries,” she said. “Representation by population is an important principle, for sure.” But Canada can’t just simply keeping adding MPs, she said, noting that Canada had 308 MPs when she first became an MP.
“Now, we have 338…and for democratic representation, it would be much more important to change our voting system to proportional representation rather than keep adding new MPs. Adding new MPs is a cost to Canadians.”
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