2012-08-27 at 15:46
Roaming riding: Proposal looks at redrawing electoral boundaries
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THUNDER BAY – Independent MP Bruce Hyer says he’s OK with the town Manitouwadge joining the federal Thunder Bay-Superior North riding.
But the sometimes controversial politician said he’s not OK with adding 30 seats to the House of Commons, calling it a political distraction aimed at winning the ruling Conservatives more seats.
Hyer, reached Monday afternoon by phone, said one or two more communities to visit in a riding already larger than some European countries, isn’t going to affect his ability to represent the people of Thunder Bay-Superior North.
“I have over 30 communities now, and especially since (Manitouwadge) is so close to Marathon and Pic River, it makes a lot of sense to add it to Thunder Bay-Superior North,” Hyer said of his 90,000 square kilometre riding.
“It takes me a long time to get around now and adding another town is not much of an extra effort. I’m quite often in Pic River and Marathon anyway. Mantitouwadge wanted to be added to Thunder Bay-Superior North and I think it’s a great idea.”
The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario on Monday posted proposed boundary changes to various ridings across the province. The changes were proposed in order to incorporate 15 new Ontario seats into the House of Commons, mostly in the Greater Toronto Area.
Nationwide an additional 15 seats, six in Alberta and British Columbia and three in Quebec, would be added under the plan.
The proposal would see Thunder Bay-Superior expand further into areas within the riding borders of Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, including Manitouwadge.
The proposal would also reduce the size of Thunder Bay – Rainy River slightly near its northwestern border.
Hyer said adding seats to the already-crowded House of Commons is not necessary, and that a simple redistribution of seats would suffice.
Prince Edward Island, for example, has four federal seats, Hyer said, yet had a 2011 population of just 145,855, less than the combined populations of Thunder Bay-Superior North (83,126) and Thunder Bay-Rainy River (83,320).
“The distribution needs addressing, but I don’t believe that adding more seats to the House of Commons is the way to do it. Some kind of reapportionment system makes a lot of sense. So we need electoral reform and boundary redistribution for ridings would be a logical step there,” Hyer said.
The longtime MP added he’s concerned adding 30 seats to the HOC will undermine the ability of existing ridings to be heard in Ottawa.
“Northwestern Ontario as a block will have 10 per cent less representation than they did in the last election,” he said, calling the plan a red herring.
A call to Manitouwadge Mayor John MacEachern was not immediated returned on Monday afternoon.
-- With files from Jeff Labine
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