While elated at the success of the “Keep the 10” northern riding campaigns, Nickel Belt MP Claude Gravelle said he wants constituents to carefully study proposed major riding boundary changes that dramatically alter northeastern Ontario ridings, including Nickel Belt.
“Thanks to many Northerners and municipalities speaking up, we were successful in convincing the electoral commission to keep the North’s 10 ridings,” Gravelle said. “The surprise, however, is the substantial changes to Nickel Belt, Timmins James Bay, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing and Nipissing that appear to have little rationale other than a rigid formula to get every riding’s population count no more than 25 per cent below the provincial average.”
On Aug. 27, the Ontario Electoral Boundaries Commission released its report proposing a newly named riding of Nickel Belt-Timiskaming that would add the large Tri-Town Timiskaming region while transferring most riding communities north of Chelmsford, plus Killarney, and part of the municipality of French River to a riding to be called Algoma-Manitoulin-Killarney.
“The report speaks of the importance of effective representation, communities of interest and history so I believe based on those principles there is an argument to be made to keep the existing boundaries,” Gravelle said. “I urge our towns, organizations and citizens make their views known. I want to hear what people want.”
The commission has scheduled three public hearings in the region for October. In Sudbury, a hearing will take place in council chambers at Tom Davies Square, 200 Brady St., on Thursday, Oct. 11 at 2 p.m.
October 1, 2012 is the deadline for requests to appear or submitting any written comments on the changes.
The report, recommendations, a riding map viewer and online comment form are available at www.redecoupage-federal-redistribution.ca.
The commission notes that public hearings and input from the electorate had a great impact on the electoral boundaries created by the last commission in 2002.
Ontario's population has increased from 11,410,046 in 2001 to 12,851,821 in 2011, leading to Parliament adding 30 federal seats, including 15 in Ontario in time for the 2015 election.
The commission noted Northern Ontario would have lost another two seats if strictly applying the representation-by-population formula of about 106,000 voters per riding; however, it recognized Northern Ontario occupies a landmass of 939,870 square kilometres, or 87.77 per cent of the total area of the province.
Southern Ontario occupies 127,389 square kilometres, or 12.23 per cent of the total area of the province.