Commission's Report – Manitoba

Results of Deliberations Following Public Consultation

Changes to Our Initial Proposal

The initial proposal was, of course, not final. After thoroughly reviewing all the presentations and carefully considering the cumulative effect of all the suggestions, we have made important modifications to the proposal. Naturally, any change made to the boundary of one riding affects the number of people and the communities of interest represented in at least one and often two or three other ridings.

Some of the suggestions made in the written submissions or public hearings would have involved drastic and sweeping changes to the boundaries of many ridings. Such suggestions conflicted with a secondary consideration of the Commission: as far as reasonably possible, to maintain some continuity between old and new boundaries so that citizens could continue to identify with their riding and their elected representative. For this reason, we did not give effect to those suggestions.

In our initial proposal, we were able to maintain the territorial integrity of all entities except one: the Rural Municipality of Grahamdale. Understandably, representatives from the Rural Municipality were not pleased and put forward a strong case not to divide it between two ridings. We have been persuaded to keep the entire Rural Municipality together within the Selkirk—Interlake riding.

The Commission was also urged to reconsider its decision to keep the Town of Morris within the Provencher riding but move the Rural Municipality of Morris into the Portage—Lisgar riding. Representatives from both municipal entities urged us to keep them united in the same riding. We have been convinced. Both will now be in the Portage—Lisgar riding.

The Rural Municipality of St. François Xavier requested that it remain together with its long-time companion municipality of Cartier in the Portage—Lisgar riding. We have been persuaded to accept this request. To offset the increase in population of the Portage—Lisgar riding brought about by the addition of the Town of Morris and the Rural Municipality of St. François Xavier, the Commission decided to transfer the Rural Municipality of Victoria to the Brandon—Souris riding.

A number of presenters were concerned that our proposed map separated three small Winnipeg neighbourhoods from their larger, adjoining communities of interest – specifically, Kildonan Estates from Elmwood—Transcona; the Maybank community from Winnipeg South Centre; and Watersides Estate from Elmwood—Transcona. We agreed to changes that address their concerns.

We received numerous oral and written representations concerning a second issue in the City of Winnipeg: the proposed boundary line between the ridings of Winnipeg North and Kildonan—St. Paul. Our initial proposal split in two the former municipality of Old Kildonan as well as the community of The Maples. We have been persuaded to return to the existing boundary, except for the most westerly part. We have transferred the rest of Amber Trails to the Winnipeg North riding. The new line will keep all of Old Kildonan in the Kildonan—St. Paul riding. It will also cause all of The Maples and Amber Trails to be together in the Winnipeg North riding.

A third concern involved the relatively small population and slower growth in the downtown district of Winnipeg Centre. We received a number of submissions, some with detailed recommendations for change. The suggestions included transferring part of Elmwood—Transcona and/or adding part of the Point Douglas neighbourhood to Winnipeg Centre. For a number of reasons, the Commission opted not to accept these suggestions. Winnipeg Centre has a potential for population growth, especially as more people choose to reside downtown in condominiums and apartments. Also, the riding is one of the lowest-income districts in Canada, with a large number of Aboriginal people and new Canadians; consequently, there are numerous and distinctive challenges in terms of achieving effective representation through the elected MP. The next commission 10 years from now may have to reconsider the status quo in light of population trends, but for now we believe that Winnipeg Centre should retain its present boundaries

Comments on our proposal for Winnipeg South Centre were both favourable and unfavourable. Some presenters acknowledged that the riding was growing more slowly than other Winnipeg ridings and that population should be added. We have already noted that our proposal to add the Maybank neighbourhood to Winnipeg South was not well received; the reason given was that Maybank was part of the wider community of Fort Garry. Accordingly, we have dropped that proposal. Opinion was about evenly split on our proposal to include the neighbourhood of Lindenwoods in Winnipeg South Centre. On balance, we thought that this was the most reasonable way to increase the population of the riding. In terms of social characteristics, there are significant similarities between Lindenwoods and other neighbourhoods in the riding, such as River Heights and Tuxedo. For this reason, the Commission has chosen to retain its initial proposal to transfer Lindenwoods to Winnipeg South Centre

The Boundary Line Between the Ridings of Churchill and Selkirk—Interlake

We received many submissions supporting our decision to enlarge the existing riding of Churchill by adding the most northerly Interlake Aboriginal communities around Fisher River (i.e. Peguis and Fisher River) and around Lake St. Martin (i.e. Fairford, Little Saskatchewan, Pinaymootang, Lake St. Martin), as well as the First Nations communities at Dauphin River and Jackhead. The Commission also notes that by moving the Churchill boundary to the south, we reunited the Chemawawin First Nation community at Denbeigh Point with its northern counterpart at Easterville.

Only one person (a representative of the current MP for the Churchill riding) raised concerns about the proposed boundary change. The concerns related mainly to the challenges of representing an already vast territorial expanse and the numerous remote communities found in the riding. The representative claimed that our proposal to expand the riding would only compound these challenges. The representative noted that there are significant difficulties in accessing smaller remote communities by road and air, especially at certain times of the year. Consequently, maintaining ongoing face-to-face contact between the MP and people in certain communities is expensive and time-consuming. The representative stated that the southward extension proposed in our map would raise to 68 the total number of communities to be represented by the MP.

In setting the proposed boundary between Churchill and Selkirk—Interlake, the Commission members debated at length the appropriate balance between the principle of population equality and the various issues related to geographic size and recognition of various communities of interest. It is true that no other Manitoba district matches Churchill in geographic size. However, there are other very large rural ridings containing hundreds of communities, including the adjacent existing riding of Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette.

In recognition of the practical challenges to achieving effective representation, the Commission considered shifting the entire southern boundary of the Churchill riding to the 53rd parallel. However, that shift would necessitate drastic changes to a number of ridings. On balance, the Commission concluded that the concerns about the size and diversity of the Churchill riding do not justify a deviation from the main criterion of achieving population equality within the ±5% range of the provincial average. We say this for four reasons:

  • First, with respect to the size of the riding, the Commission notes that, prior to the population boom that accompanied mining and hydro developments in the 1960s, the Churchill riding was as large as what is now being proposed, or larger. It cannot be said that our proposal ignores historical patterns of previous riding boundaries. It also cannot be disputed that new technologies have greatly improved communications and access to services beyond what was possible historically.
  • Second, with regard to the challenge of achieving effective representation, we note that the MP for the Churchill riding receives the maximum Geographic Supplement and Schedule 3 Supplement for her constituency office budget. Such special funding is essential to ensure that MPs serving vast territories, such as the Churchill riding, have the necessary resources to maintain regular contact and effectively represent their constituents. The funding helps to cover extra costs for travel and the establishment of more than one constituency office.

    In reference to the MP’s legitimate effective representation concerns, the Commission notes that the commuting distance to the existing Churchill constituency offices (currently located in Thompson, Flin Flon and The Pas) is shorter for the communities now being added than for numerous other communities already in the riding – for example, Sagkeeng First Nation, Manigotagan, Hollow Water First Nation and Bissett. In addition, the added communities are not “fly-in” communities; all are accessible by paved roads.
  • Third, with regard to the community of interest factor, the Commission observes that the overwhelming majority of constituents who live in the area being added to the Churchill riding belong to Aboriginal communities, which already account for a significant portion of the population of the riding.
  • Fourth, and not least, the two previous boundaries commissions accepted as a fundamental principle the desirability of population equality among all ridings, and they set a tolerance goal of a ±5% variation from the provincial average. As already stated, this guideline offers the Commission a variance range of 10% (from –5% to +5%). For the sake of argument, suppose that this Commission took a different view of the ±5% standard and set the entire southern limit of the Churchill riding at the 53rd parallel. Were it to do that, the riding would have a population significantly under the provincial average (–17.5%). Moreover, this change would cause the remaining rural-based ridings (Brandon—Souris, Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, Portage—Lisgar, Provencher and Selkirk—Interlake) each to exceed the provincial average by over 5%, and they would have the highest population counts of all of Manitoba’s14 ridings. In the view of the Commission, this would be completely unacceptable.

    The only other option to counter this under-representation of the five southernmost rural-based ridings would be to undo an important and consequential decision reached by the 1992 Commission. In recognition of continued urban growth in Winnipeg, that commission discarded the seven-seven urban-rural split that had existed up until that time: it increased the number of ridings in the Winnipeg area to eight and reduced the number in the rest of the province to six. This was a historic shift because for the first time ridings in the Winnipeg area outnumbered those in the rest of the province. The change caused a major redrawing of the electoral map. In light of continuing population growth in the Winnipeg area, the Commission is not inclined to question or revisit the 1992 decision.

Two final matters of note: First, the population of the proposed Selkirk—Interlake riding will still remain at 6% above the provincial average, even when part of the Churchill riding boundary is moved south. Second, while we increased the area of the Churchill riding by 7%, we also note that almost all the inhabitants of the region added to Churchill belong to Aboriginal communities. This has increased the percentage of Aboriginal people (First Nations and Métis) living in that riding to approximately 60% of the total population. The Commission believes that this reality should be reflected in the name of the riding. This brings us to our recommendations on name changes for some of the ridings.

Proposed Name Changes

The Commission is of the view that the names of five ridings should be changed. The first two changes were presented in our initial proposal. A change of name is always a sensitive topic. We based our selection of names on a blend of geographical features, the history of the riding (including recognition of historical actors) and the communities of interest represented within them.

It has become apparent to the Commission that, as the Churchill riding now unites a significant number of Aboriginal communities, the time has come to reflect this reality by adding an Aboriginal component to the name. We propose adding “Keewatinook Aski” (which means “land to the north” or “northern land”) to the riding name so that the new name would be Churchill—Keewatinook Aski. “Keewatinook” has the common meaning of “north” in Cree, Ojibway and Oji-Cree.“Aski” means “land” in Cree and is similar to its Ojibway equivalent, “Aki.”

In light of the addition of a number of municipalities to the southern boundary of the Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette riding, we recommend a new name: Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa. The Commission suggests replacing “Marquette” with “Neepawa” in the riding name for two reasons. First, the community of Marquette is no longer in the riding. Second, we draw attention to the fact that Neepawa was the name, or part of the name, of a former Manitoba federal riding (from 1914 to 1966). It therefore makes sense, given the addition of the nearby southern communities, to now revive that name. While Parklands—Agassiz or Prairie—Mountain were suggested as possible names, the Commission regarded neither name as appropriate. “Parklands” has historical and significant meaning to the area; in our view, this is not the case with “Agassiz,” “Prairie” or “Mountain.”

There were proposals to change the name of Saint Boniface to Saint Boniface—Southeast Winnipeg. We did not adopt this suggestion. Generally, a riding will have “Winnipeg” in its name only if it was formerly within the original City of Winnipeg boundaries. Other proposals suggested the name of Saint Boniface—Saint Vital. We have been persuaded to propose that name. Prior to 1971, two independent cities covered what is now the southeast portion of Winnipeg: the City of St. Boniface (which included all of the land east of the Seine River down to the city boundary near the Perimeter Highway) and the City of St. Vital (which included the area south of Carrière Avenue between the Red River and the Seine River, again down to the city boundary). The existing riding encompasses all of the former City of St. Boniface (accounting for approximately 60% of the riding population) and a significant part of the former City of St. Vital (accounting for the remaining 40% of the population).

We received numerous requests to add the name “Headingley” to the riding name of Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia to reflect the growth in population in the Rural Municipality of Headingley. We have been persuaded to do so. Therefore, we propose the name of Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley.

Finally, in view of the easterly shift of the boundaries of Selkirk—Interlake, numerous presenters asked us to add “Eastman” to the name of the riding. The name of Eastman has meaning and significance to the inhabitants of the eastern part of the riding. We agree to propose that change to the name. As a result, we propose the name of Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman.

Proposed Riding Names, Population and Variance from Average

After careful review, the Commission proposes maps and boundaries which reflect the following names and population figures.

Table 1 Population and Variance for Proposed Ridings
Riding Name 2011 Population Variance from Average
Brandon—Souris 83,814 –2.89%
Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley 81,864 –5.15%
Churchill—Keewatinook Aski 85,148 –1.34%
Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa 87,374 1.24%
Elmwood—Transcona 85,906 –0.46%
Kildonan—St. Paul 81,794 –5.23%
Portage—Lisgar 91,019 5.46%
Provencher 88,640 2.71%
Saint Boniface—Saint Vital 84,353 –2.26%
Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman 91,463 5.98%
Winnipeg Centre 82,026 –4.96%
Winnipeg North 88,616 2.68%
Winnipeg South 85,540 –0.89%
Winnipeg South Centre 90,711 5.11%

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