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Enhancing the Values of Redistribution


Executive Summary – Recommendations Made in This Report

Recommendation 1.2: Section 3 of the Act should be amended to provide that the Governor in Council shall establish electoral boundaries commissions by the earlier of:

Recommendation 1.3: Subsection 19(2) of the Act should be amended to reduce the notice period between the publication of the initial proposal and the commencement of public hearings from 60 days to 30 days.

Recommendation 1.4: Subsection 25(1) of the Act should be amended to provide that new boundaries come into force on the first dissolution of Parliament that occurs at least seven months following the issue of the proclamation of the representation order.

In the case where writs for a general election are issued during the seven-month period referred to above, the new boundaries will come into force on the first dissolution of Parliament that occurs at least seven months after the return of the writs for that general election.

Recommendation 2.1: A subsection (3) should be added to section 15 of the Act stating that in applying the concept of community in subsections (1) and (2), a commission shall recognize communities when doing so promotes or maintains the effective representation of members of the community. In applying the concept of community, the commission shall consider factors such as:

Recommendation 2.2: A subsection should be added to section 15 stating that Indian reserves, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Indian Act, shall not be divided between two or more electoral districts, except in circumstances where it is clear to the commissioners that such division is necessary in order to achieve effective representation. If a commission chooses to divide a reserve between two or more districts, it shall explain its reasons for doing so in its report.

Recommendation 2.3: A subsection should be added to section 15 stating that commissions should not change existing electoral boundaries unless the commission is of the view that changes in population and communities require such a change so as to ensure effective representation.

Recommendation 2.4: The deviation from the provincial quotient permitted under paragraph 15(2)(b) of the Act should be reduced from 25% to 15%.

Where a commission proposes boundaries that deviate from the quotient by more than 15%, in circumstances that the commission finds to be extraordinary, it shall explain, in its report, its reasons for doing so.

Recommendation 2.5: Subsections 15(1) and 15(2) of the Act should be amended to include topographical features and transportation networks as two additional factors that must be considered by commissions in drawing boundaries, and that can be bases for deviating from the provincial quotient.

Recommendation 3.1: Section 18 of the Act should be amended to state expressly that commissions may accept and consider written submissions.

In any public notice where the commission publishes information concerning the opportunities to make oral submissions, the commission shall also set out the means by which written submissions may be made and the time periods for doing so.

Recommendation 3.2: Section 14 should be amended to provide that upon being established, commissions should be required to inform the public of the upcoming redistribution exercise, setting out the process and timelines and asking for written submissions to be considered before the formation of their initial proposals.

Recommendation 3.3: Subsection 19(2) of the Act should be amended so that it no longer specifies that an advertisement of the commission's initial proposal shall be placed in a newspaper. A commission should be required to disseminate, in the means it thinks are most appropriate to achieve the broadest dissemination of the information therein, the initial proposal as well as the methods by which members of the public may make submissions to the commission. The commission shall also make clear in its proposal how members of the public can obtain a free copy of the proposed map along with the names and populations of the proposed districts.

Recommendation 3.4: A provision should be added to the Act stating that a commission shall endeavour to communicate with groups representing citizens' interests in the province regarding its initial proposal and the methods for making representations to the commission.

Recommendation 3.5: Subsection 19(5) should be amended to provide that a commission may waive any of the elements of the notice required under that provision, including the requirement of notice itself, at any time the commission feels it is in the public interest to do so.

Recommendation 3.6: Following its hearings, the committee of the House reviewing the commission reports should produce a summary of the objections to the commission's report, if any, and refer it back to the commission through the Chief Electoral Officer. The public should have up to 30 days from the date the committee's report is made public to comment on the report of the commission and the committee's objections. The commission should have a further 30 days to dispose of the objections, taking into account any public comments.

Where the committee has received no objections to the commission's report, the public should have 30 days from the end of the objection period to comment on the commission's report, and the commission should have a further 30 days to prepare its final report, taking into account any public comments.

Recommendation 3.7: A provision should be added to the Act to provide the Chief Electoral Officer with the express authority to implement public education and information programs to make the electoral boundaries readjustment process better known to the public.

Recommendation 3.8: Elections Canada should be given the express authority to continue to develop materials and present information sessions to members of Parliament concerning redistribution and the role of members of Parliament in the process.

Recommendation 4.2: A section should be added to the Act giving Elections Canada the express authority to make available administrative support to electoral boundaries commissions. Commissions should be obliged to accept such support.

Recommendation 4.3: Elections Canada should be mandated to facilitate the provision of information to commissioners through information sessions and other means. Commissions should be obliged to consider any such information provided.

Recommendation 4.4: Section 20 of the Act should be amended to provide that the report of each commission should include the following information in the following order:

Recommendation 4.5: A provision should be added to the Act providing that following a redistribution, the Chief Electoral Officer may report to Parliament on any amendments that in his or her opinion are desirable for the better administration of the Act.

Recommendation 5.1: An amendment should be made to the Act to provide that any individual resident in the relevant province may seek review of the commission's decisions in the Federal Court of Appeal on the basis that the commission has made an error of law.

The Act should provide that applications for review of a commission's decision must be made within 30 days of the proclamation of the representation order. Before the review application is heard, an applicant would have to seek leave from the court. A court would only grant leave if the error, which is the object of the complaint, could have produced a material effect on the commission's final report.

The Act should specify that the existence of an application to review the decision of an electoral boundaries commission does not affect the validity of the representation order proclaimed following receipt of the final report.

The Act should provide that if the court finds that an error was made, the original commission would be re-established, unless the commission members are not willing and able to act, or the court directs otherwise, in which case a new commission will be established using the same appointment procedures as are found in the Act. Any members of the original commission who are willing and able to act shall be appointed to the new commission unless the court has directed otherwise.

The commission would be permitted to work from its records or the records of the previous commission. Where a commission is of the view that it is necessary to do so, it may hold additional public hearings. In order to facilitate this, a provision should be added to the Act requiring commissions to maintain records of their public hearings.

The Act should specify that the amended representation order shall come into force on the date of the first dissolution of Parliament that occurs at least seven months after the date that the commission submits its amended report.

Recommendation 5.2: The Chief Electoral Officer should be given the power to correct clerical errors in an electoral boundaries commission report. If the Chief Electoral Officer exercises this power, he must make a report to the Speaker of the House of Commons within the first 15 sitting days following the correction, along with a report of the reasons for the correction.

Once a general election has been held on the basis of boundaries based on a clerical error, the Chief Electoral Officer should no longer retain the power to correct the clerical error if the error affected the population of the district.

Recommendation 5.3: Section 23 should be amended to provide that if the committee of the House of Commons objects to a name proposed by a commission, and proposes an alternative name, the commission shall be bound to accept that name unless the commission later receives public input regarding the name of the district. If a member of the public objects to the committee's choice, the commission shall decide on the most appropriate name.