Manitobans should make voices heard on electoral boundaries, commission chair says

The chair of Manitoba’s Federal Election Boundaries Commission says it’s important for community residents to make their voices heard when it comes to drawing up the province’s electoral map.

Justice Diana Cameron told Global News the review of election boundaries, which is currently underway, is more than just a mathematical exercise.

“Our system of government is one of effective representation of the electors,” Cameron said.

“That means, basically, according to the Supreme Court of Canada, we should have parity of voting power between the electors.

“It’s important in those communities where there’s been a big population shift or there’s been a big social or economic shift, that there’s significant changes that implicate the electors’ right to effective representation.”

Cameron heads up the three-person independent commission, which also includes Kelly Saunders and Paul G. Thomas, and said the first thing considered is voter parity — her team looks at the “perfect” number of people that should be in each riding.

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When looking at raw numbers, she said, that would mean each Manitoba riding should be home to 95,868 people, and the commission’s goal is to keep each riding’s population within five per cent — plus or minus — of that number.

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There’s much more to it, however. Communities of interest, including Indigenous people and francophones, are taken into consideration, as are the cultural divides that a three-member panel wouldn’t necessarily be privy to.

Public hearings, beginning Wednesday, are planned to help clear some of those things up — who should be included in which riding, and why.

“It’s very important, because we’re only three commissioners, and this is an entire huge area we’re covering,” Cameron said.

“(We) need to hear what’s going on in the communities throughout the entire province. When we’re drawing the lines, we’re wanting to hear from people.

“When people are coming to the meeting, let us know about your community. Let us know why you feel you belong in a certain riding. Let us know what the community interests are. What are the economic interests? What is it that makes you a member of this community, and why is it important you stay in this community?”

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