Meeting Summary – Annual General Meeting – June 27–28, 2011
Information Updates: Electoral Boundaries Readjustment
Mr. François Faucher gave a presentation to ACPP members on the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment process. A copy of the presentation was given to ACPP members, their questions and comments are summarized below.
Discussion with ACPP Members
ACPP members asked how the members of the Electoral Boundary Commissions were selected. François Faucher replied that the chair of each Commission was selected by the Chief justice of the province and that the other members were selected by the Speaker of the House and then appointed via Order in Council.
ACPP members asked what Elections Canada's role as an intermediary was. François Faucher replied that Elections Canada receives the recommendation reports on redistribution from the provincial Commissions then the CEO gives them to Parliament.
ACPP members questioned why the redistribution process had to be completed in such a short period of time and weather the Commissions were pressed for time. François Faucher replied that Elections Canada provides maps, computer mapping tools and the support of a cartographic technician to make the work of the Commissions easier.
ACPP members also asked if the redistribution process will address inequalities in existing ridings. François Faucher replied that the offices are given direction to do so, and that the general guideline is 100,000 electors per riding, plus or minus 25%. ACPP members stated that 25% is a huge discrepancy, and that currently, ridings are weighted towards rural communities. François Faucher replied that Commissions are not given instructions in this regards. In the past, most ridings were within plus or minus 10%.
The question was asked if public hearings change the number of seats. It was also asked if Members of Parliament could affect the number of seats. François Faucher replied that the number of seats is set in law and cannot be changed. Hearings are conducted to address the boundaries and potential changes to the name of the district. Commissions hold hearings to obtain public input. MPs have no powers to change the Commission's report.
There was a question regarding the possible effect of the Government's fair representation law. François Faucher replied that the Government has not yet tabled a new version of the legislation, and that the effect of the previous proposed legislation would have been to raise the number of seats in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, leaving the numbers of seats in the rest of the country the same.
ACPP members asked if Commissions were given staff and instructions. François Faucher replied that Commissions are given staff as required, are provided with guidance on the principles of equality, accessibility, communities of interest and identity and that they have a great degree of latitude in the completion of their work. He also indicated that public hearings on redistribution would likely happen in the spring, and that the representation order would be proclaimed in the Fall of 2013.