Commission's Report – Manitoba

Introduction

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Manitoba, constituted in accordance with section 3 of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act (R.S.C. 1985, c. E 3), submits its report pursuant to section 14 of that Act.

The members of the Commission for Manitoba, appointed in accordance with the provisions of sections 5 and 6 of the Act, are:

Position Name
Chairperson: Mr. Justice Richard J. Chartier
Justice of the Court of Appeal of Manitoba
Member: Dr. Kelly Saunders
Member: Dr. Paul Thomas

The Commission was established by proclamation dated February 21, 2012. Pursuant to section 13 of the Act, the Chief Electoral Officer presented the Chairperson of the Commission the return of the Chief Statistician of Canada and, in particular, the population of the Province of Manitoba, which was stated to be 1,208,268, as ascertained by the Census of Canada taken in the year 2011.

As required by section 14 of the Act, the Chief Electoral Officer advised the Chairperson of the Manitoba Commission that fourteen (14) members in the House of Commons would continue to be assigned to this province. The electoral quota was then calculated to be 86,305.

The Commission, on the basis of the information submitted above, proceeded to divide the province into fourteen (14) electoral districts (ridings) pursuant to the directions contained in the Act.

In accordance with subsection 19(2) of the Act, a notice was duly published in the Canada Gazette on September 8, 2012, in the Winnipeg Free Press and La Liberté on September 5, 2012, in the Winnipeg Sun on September 7, 2012, and in weeklies throughout the province between September 10 and 18, 2012, giving notice of the places and times fixed for the hearing of representations from interested persons. As part of that notice were the recommendations of the Commission, comprising the names of the ridings and the maps illustrating their boundaries. Also published was a statement that all representations were required to be lodged with the secretary of the Commission by October 1, 2012.

The Commission set the following dates for the hearing of representations:

October 9, 2012, Winnipeg, at 7 p.m.
October 10, 2012, Selkirk, at 3 p.m.
October 17, 2012, Winnipeg, at 7 p.m.
October 18, 2012, Brandon, at 3 p.m.
October 19, 2012, Dauphin, at 9 a.m.
October 19, 2012, Thompson, at 4 p.m.

In view of the very small number of requests to appear (one for each sitting) and pursuant to our rules, on October 3, 2012, the Commission cancelled the public hearings that were scheduled to take place in Brandon, Dauphin and Thompson. The three individuals who had given notice of their intention to appear at these venues were advised of the cancellation and were subsequently invited to share their views via teleconference on October 18, 2012. At the three public hearings held in Winnipeg (October 9 and 17, 2012) and Selkirk (October 10, 2012), we heard 59 presentations. We also received 18 written presentations.

We wish to extend sincere thanks to all the Manitobans who made the effort and took the time to contribute to the important democratic exercise of determining fair and reasonable boundaries for Manitoba’s 14 ridings, which will be implemented for the next general election scheduled to take place in October 2015. We learned a great deal from your written and in-person submissions. While we have not accepted some of the suggestions made to us, the information and opinions you provided enriched our understanding of the diversity of the Manitoba political community and improved our second set of proposals, which are contained in this report.

Members of Parliament (MPs) have intimate knowledge of the communities they represent and know the challenges of achieving effective representation, which is a major consideration in the mandate of the Commission. Accordingly, we were particularly interested in receiving the opinions and recommendations of Manitoba’s 14 serving MPs. Either directly or through their representatives or agents, we received written or oral submissions from 10 of the 14 MPs: the Honourable Steven Fletcher, Minister of State (Transport) (in person); Shelly Glover, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance (through Patricia Rondeau); Joyce Bateman (by letter); James Bezan (in person); Rod Bruinooge (in an attachment to Joyce Bateman’s letter); Joy Smith (by letter); Robert Sopuck (by teleconference); Lawrence Toet (in person); Niki Ashton (through Gordon Landriault); and Kevin Lamoureux (in person).

In noting the importance of hearing the views of MPs, we are not saying that their opinions counted for more in our deliberations or that their recommendations were given extra weight in this second version of the proposed map of electoral districts. MPs will have a further opportunity to offer suggestions on the map within a committee of the House of Commons, but the final decision rests with the Commission.

We are pleased to advise that the vast majority of the presentations were in favour of our suggested boundary changes. In our view, this generally positive response is due in large part to our decision to invite members of the public to participate in the creation of our initial proposal by providing their written suggestions or comments. The result of this invitation was that we received over 70 submissions. We incorporated the majority of the suggestions in the initial proposal.

As an independent body, the Commission adhered to a non-partisan approach. We were governed by the rules set out in the Act when we prepared the initial proposal and this report. In addition to our advance consultation, we also sought to facilitate further public involvement and better informed comments on our proposed maps; we did this by setting forth three general guiding principles as well as specific reasons for the adjustments proposed for the boundaries of 12 of Manitoba’s 14 ridings. Two of the 14 ridings would remain unaffected by the proposed changes.

The three guiding principles are as follows:

  • First, we accepted as a fundamental principle the desirability of population equality among all ridings, and we set a tolerance goal of plus or minus 5% from the provincial average. This guideline offered the Commission a variance range of 10% (from –5% to +5%).
  • Second, as far as reasonably possible, to ensure that the population of each riding would remain within the plus or minus 5% range until the next redistribution 10 years hence, we took into account population growth projections.
  • Finally, we tried to respect the territorial integrity of different entities, such as municipalities, Aboriginal communities and Manitoba’s designated bilingual areas. If a proposed boundary passed through one of these entities, the Commission sought alternative solutions wherever possible.




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