Part I Initial Report to the House of Commons (February 15, 2013) – Quebec – Introduction

Introduction

The mandate of a province’s commission is defined in section 3, subsection (2) of the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. E-3 (the Act), which stipulates that the commissions "shall consider and report on the readjustment of the representation of the provinces in the House of Commons required to be made on the completion of each decennial census."

This report, as defined in section 2, subsection (1), paragraph 5, has been prepared pursuant to section 20 of the Act.

  • 20. (1) Each commission shall, not later than 10 months after the day on which the chairman receives the copy of the return referred to in paragraph 13(2)(a), complete a report for presentation to the House of Commons setting out the considerations and proposals of the commission concerning the division of the province into electoral districts, the descriptions and boundaries of the districts and the population of and name to be given to each district and, on the completion of the report, shall cause two certified copies of the report to be transmitted to the Chief Electoral Officer.

The Commission was officially established by proclamation on February 21, 2012. It is composed of three commissioners: the Honourable Jules Allard, S.J.C., Chair; Dr. Raymond Hudon, Ph.D.; and J. Michel Doyon, Q.C., Ad.E., Ph.D., former president of the Barreau du Québec. The commissioners assumed their functions on February 23, 2012.

The 2011 decennial census established the population of the province of Quebec at 7,903,001. The province of Quebec had 75 electoral districts on December 16, 2011, before the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) calculated the number of House of Commons seats to be allocated to each province. That calculation, made using the representation formula found in the Constitution and the population estimates provided by Statistics Canada, brought to 78 the number of federal electoral districts for Quebec: 72 seats were allocated pursuant to the initial calculation made under the Constitution Act, 1867, 3 pursuant to the grandfather clause, and 3 pursuant to the representation rule. Dividing the population number for the province of Quebec by 78 results in an electoral quota of 101,321 residents per electoral district, compared with 96,500 in 2001. It is worth noting that the electoral quota following the 1981 Census was 85,845, and 91,946 following the 1991 Census.

After research and reflection, the Commission's first act was to submit, with supporting reasons, a proposal recommending new electoral boundaries based on the province's population numbers and the quota resulting from the division of the province into 78 electoral districts. That proposal sought to elicit the representations of all interested persons who wished to be heard at public hearings, and any other comments made in writing or in any other format deemed acceptable by the Commission.

The Commission's proposal was initially published on its website for broader dissemination on July 16, 2012, and then published a second time in a supplement to the Canada Gazette,Part I, on August 4, 2012. The proposal was also published as an insert in four daily newspapers and advertised in other periodical newspapers distributed in all regions of Quebec. Lastly, it was the subject of a general reminder before the end of the 23-day period during which all interested persons could request to be heard at one of the 18 locations mentioned in the following schedule.

Hearings Schedule

Saguenay, Courthouse, Room 4.02
227 Racine Street East (Chicoutimi)
Wednesday, September 5, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Lévis, Lévis Convention and Exhibition Centre, Executive Boardroom 1
5750 J.-B.-Michaud Street
Thursday, September 6, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Québec, Courthouse, Room 4.11
300 Jean-Lesage Boulevard
Friday, September 7, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Gaspé, Courthouse, Room 001
11 de la Cathédrale Street
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Matane, Riôtel Matane, Saint-Jérôme Room
250 du Phare Avenue East
Wednesday, September 12, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Rivière-du-Loup, Courthouse, Room 4.10
33 de la Cour Street
Friday, September 14, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Shawinigan, Courthouse, Room 2.04
212 6th Street
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Thetford Mines, Courthouse, Room 1.03
693 Saint-Alphonse Street North
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Laval, Courthouse, Room 1.07
2800 Saint-Martin Boulevard West
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Saint-Jérôme, Courthouse, Room B1.02
25 De Martigny Street West
Thursday, October 18, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Montréal, Courthouse, Room 14.09
1 Notre-Dame Street East
Friday, October 19, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Valleyfield, Courthouse, Room 6
74 Académie Street
Tuesday, October 23, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Longueuil, Courthouse, Room 1.29
1111 Jacques-Cartier Street East
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Saint-Jean, Courthouse, Room 1.08
109 Saint-Charles Street
Thursday, October 25, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Sherbrooke, Courthouse, Room 7
375 King Street West
Friday, October 26, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Gatineau, Courthouse, Room 11
17 Laurier Street (Hull)
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Val-d’Or, Courthouse
900 7th Street
Friday, November 2, 2012 9:30 a.m.
Sept-Îles, Courthouse, Room 1.01
425 Laure Boulevard
Tuesday, November 6, 2012 9:30 a.m.

The large number of requests to participate in the hearings scheduled in Montréal led us to add three days to the initial schedule: November 9, 12 and 14, 2012. The Commission felt these public hearing days were very important in informing the final phase of its work, that being the preparation of its report. The report is to be submitted to the House of Commons, and subsequently returned to the Commission for it to accept or reject objections from members of Parliament (MPs). Finally, the report is submitted to the CEO, who calls on the Governor in Council to adopt an order giving effect to the new electoral map.

The representations received from citizens provided the Commission with much food for thought throughout its deliberations. In the context of the hearings, the Commission heard 237 representations from citizens appearing as individuals or members of social, quasi-public or political organizations.

In addition, the Commission benefited from the suggestions contained in the many briefs and submissions filed in reaction to its proposal. The Commission also received 144 resolutions from various municipal organizations publicly setting out their official position as well as the concerns and wishes of their citizens



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