Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Issue 18 - Evidence, June 15, 2000
OTTAWA, Thursday, June 15, 2000
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, to which was referred Bill C-445, to change the name of the electoral district of Rimouski--Mitis, and Bill C-473, to change the names of certain electoral districts, met this day at 10:53 a.m. to give consideration to the bills.
Senator Lorna Milne (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: Honourable senators, I see a quorum. This session of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs is now met. We have before us to consider Bill C-445 and Bill C-473, to change the names of certain electoral districts.
We have before us as witnesses some of the members of Parliament whose ridings are affected by the proposed changes.
If you wish to make an opening statement, please proceed.
Since there are none, we will proceed to questions.
Senator Nolin: Mr. Lavigne, as for the Verdun riding -- and I am using the short name to make sure that I am understood -- were you aware of the 50-character limit that the Chief Electoral Officer has been urging you to respect?
Mr. Raymond Lavigne, Member for Verdun--Saint-Henri: Yes, I asked them to take out the hyphens.
Senator Nolin: You are aware that what you are asking us to approve contains more than 50 characters. The Chief Electoral Officer told us yesterday evening that administrative arrangements can be made without going through an amendment to shorten riding names.
Mr. Lavigne: I think that they have understood that.
Senator Nolin: Mr. Kingsley told us that without changing the words, they will be able to include the 53 or 56 characters, without incurring half a million dollars in expenses for a name of this length. Now I will put a question to all of you here: What kind of consultations have you done in your ridings to take the pulse of your fellow citizens and voters? I think that Mr. Marceau has done some in his riding and I think that this is the right way to go about it -- perhaps he even did a bit too much.
Mr. Lavigne: I have been the Member for the Verdun riding for exactly seven years -- previously, it was Verdun-Saint-Paul, the name was changed to Verdun-Saint-Henri. Now, if I were to change for Verdun-Pointe Saint-Charles, I think that the people in Côte Saint-Paul and Saint-Henri will be on my back, as are people in Pointe Saint-Charles. Each time I go to Pointe Saint-Charles and say "Verdun-Saint-Henri", people ask: "And we, the people of Pointe Saint-Charles, who are we?" And now whenever I go to Côte Saint-Paul and Pointe Saint-Charles, other people say: "Verdun-Saint-Henri, Côte Saint-Paul, why did you remove our name"? I answer that it was not I, but the Chief Electoral Officer who made the change during my absence. It was done for Verdun-Saint-Henri and people told me: "Listen Mr. Lavigne, we would really like to have our name in the riding." As far as I am concerned, I know that having to say that I am the Member for Verdun-Saint-Henri-Côte Saint-Paul-Pointe Saint-Charles will be quite a mouthful, but when my constituents ask me whether they are a part of the whole or not, it is rather difficult to give them an answer. Anytime I went anywhere in my riding, I was besieged with this, and thus I asked that the names be included.
Senator Nolin: In other words, you were pressured by your constituents, but you have not launched an exhaustive consultation.
Mr. Odina Desrochers, Member for Lotbinière: The Lotbinière riding was extensively modified in 1997. The entire RCM, namely the L'Érable RCM, is not identified with the name "Lotbinière." All the other RCMs are recognized, like Richmond--Arthabaska -- because I have a part of Arthabaska and both Chaudière Falls, I have a part of Chaudière Falls -- Lotbinière and Bécancour. At the same time, one of the mayors of the L'Érable RCM also asked that we be called "Lotbinière -- L'Érable," given that these are the two largest regional municipalities. Then I held a press conference and announced that I would take the needed steps to change the riding's name. I encountered no opposition from the mayors of the RCM of de Lotbinière.
Senator Nolin: Did you apply the rule that silence gives consent?
Mr. Desrochers: Exactly. The people in the L'Érable RCM are impatiently waiting for the name to become "Lotbinière -- L'Érable." Further, the word "érable" -- maple -- refers to a tree that is found all over the territory of Lotbinière--L'Érable riding. I need not say more about the symbolism of this.
Senator Nolin: Would anyone else like to make comments?
Mr. Stéphane Tremblay, Member for Lac-Saint-Jean: As far as I am concerned, the name change was made because 25 per cent of the voters in my riding belong to the Saguenay. My riding is called Lac-Saint-Jean and 40 per cent of its territory is in the Saguenay region. I thought that this would simply be equitable for the people at the other end of the riding who did not feel that they belonged to the riding. I sent out a house holder to the whole riding, containing a card explaining why I wanted to make the change. I also consulted the people to find out whether they agreed to change the name of the federal "Lac-Saint-Jean" riding to "Lac-Saint-Jean-Saguenay". They could check off a "yes" or "no" answer and there was also space to add comments or suggestions. Of course, I received other suggestions from the nearly 1,000 respondents to this mailing, and the majority accepted. I was very surprised about this because there is some rivalry between Saguenay and Lac-Saint-Jean. It was a rather risky venture for me, but with 72 per cent support, I think it is perfectly legitimate and democratic to request the name change.
Mr. Bernard Bigras, Member for Rosemont: There are three main reasons why I decided to undertake this name change. For one thing, I must say that this is not a merely cosmetic change. If it were so, we would not be meeting the objectives of the bill that is being tabled today.
Rosemont is an urban riding right in the middle of Montreal. Senator Joyal knows Montreal very well. The federal riding of Rosemont comprises two neighbourhoods: Rosemont and la Petite-Patrie. In the federal riding, one third of my voters are in the Rosemont neighbourhood and two-thirds in Petite-Patrie. Although two thirds of my voters are in Petite-Patrie, the riding is actually called Rosemont.
Secondly, we want to end the confusion. Provincially, there is already a Member for Rosemont. This often confused voters. They did not know whether they should address the federal MP or the provincial MPP for Rosemont.
Third, we are doing this for the sake of social and economic organization. Since the 1980s, municipal districts were created in Montreal and put in charge of social and economic organization, and then about 10 CDECs, or Corporations de développement économique communautaire, were created. Thus, I propose that we take the territory of Rosemont and give it to an already existing social and economic organization based on the municipal districts. No, we did not consult, but I must say that this initiative began 20 years ago on account on the social and economic factors in the municipal district.
Senator Nolin: Mr. Crête, I think that you are appearing on behalf of Ms Tremblay, are you not?
Mr. Paul Crête, Member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup-Témiscouata-Les Basques: Yes, Ms Tremblay is sorry that she cannot come today. She already had a commitment in her riding.
Let me make a brief introduction. As member for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup-Témiscouata-Les Basques, I can easily understand why people want their riding to be identified with the name of the RCM it historically represents. When the Quebec electoral map was redrawn in 1995, we tried to stick as closely as possible to the RCM territorial boundaries. In 1993, I had two municipalities in the riding that now belong to the neighbouring riding, but then, it was well-harmonized with the RCM, which strengthened the people's sense of identity.
On March 4, 1999, Ms Tremblay issued a notice stating that she intended to request a change for Rimouski--Mitis. She then received notices, especially from the La Mitis RCM where her riding office happened to be. The proposal was made after these consultations, after the debate over Rimouski--Neigette and La Mitis, which are the exact names of the two regional municipalities in those ridings.
Senator Nolin: Even though we are already very much aware of your process, I see that you are not the only one to have undertaken certain steps. It sounds like a somewhat shared approach. You have at least managed to influence Mr. Tremblay.
Mr. Richard Marceau, Member for Charlesbourg: I am not sure whether I influenced him, but most members take quite seriously something as important as a name change.
It is not, as Mr. Bigras said, a simple cosmetic change; it is the expression of the will of people from various ridings. In order to ensure the greatest possible participation of citizens in our democratic process, we must ensure that they can strongly identify with their riding. It is important that they have a sense of belonging, and the name of the riding, even though it might not be the most important consideration, is still an essential element.
As Mr. Tremblay did, I sent out a large number of householders asking the constituents for their opinions. I gave them a number of choices. I also wrote to two provincial members of the National Assembly who cover my riding: the Member for Charlesbourg and the Member for Chauveau. I wrote to all of the mayors, to all the city councillors as well as to many organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Carrefour jeunesse-emploi, the reeves of the regional county municipalities, et cetera. The winning name is Charlesbourg - Jacques-Cartier. Probably because the regional county municipality of Jacques-Cartier covers the entire northern part of my riding. My riding covers eight municipalities, with six of them in the Jacques-Cartier MRC. There is also the fact that we have a provincial-national park called le Parc de La Jacques-Cartier which is a major tourist attraction in my riding as well as the Jacques-Cartier River. So there was a strong identification. That is the reason why we decided to introduce the bill.
Senator Nolin: I apologize for taking so much time, but I think it will allow everyone to better understand why the application was made.
The Chairman: No, because you were asking the question that we all wanted to know the answer to: How have they consulted?
Senator Fraser: Of course, we understand that there must be strong pressures to give each area equal billing.
Where will it end? Mr. Lavigne, yesterday evening, I was trying to wonder where you might stop. You already have Verdun, Saint-Henri, Saint-Paul, and you have removed the word "Côte", that is something gained, but to Pointe-Saint-Charles, you could also add la Petite-Bourgogne, l'Île-des-Soeurs, Pont-Champlain.
Mr. Lavigne: No, la Petite-Bourgogne is not in my riding but in Lucienne Robillard's.
Senator Fraser: You have the Champlain Bridge and l'Île-des-Soeurs. I am exaggerating somewhat just to make a point. Increasingly, the only factor that seems to come into play is geographically related to the social plane. Eventually, there will be no limit because there will always be some little corner that will feel offended because the others have been included and it has not.
According to the Chief Electoral Officer, there are other criteria for naming the ridings, including one based on history; the name of a historic figure or maybe even an event. Would it not be easier to say: we will drop this race for geographical identification and get back to basics? A name that would be recognized as having some link with the region in which the riding lies. I must say, Mr. Crête, that I did not know the name of your riding and I find it very impressive, Kamouraska--Rivière-du-Loup--Témiscouata--Les Basques. It must take a while for the Speaker to give you the floor?
Mr. Lavigne: If you were invited, along with all other senators here present, to an evening where I was the guest speaker and where I identified everyone except you, I don't know how you would take it. You would come and whisper in my ear: you forgot my name! I have in mind the people from the riding of Verdun-Saint-Henri, from Pointe-Saint-Charles which is an economically disadvantaged sector and Côte-Saint-Paul which is part disadvantaged while the other half is better off. There are 14 children in my family and if my father or my mother had forgotten to include me as one of their 14 children, I would have cried out to tell them that I existed. When people say to me: "Mr. Lavigne, where do we fit in?" That is basically what is involved.
I agree with you when you ask where it will end. Stop giving us ridings with 102,000 constituents. Do as the provinces do. Give us a small riding with 40,000 constituents and then, we will just have one name, like Verdun.
At the provincial level, the riding of Verdun covers only Verdun. We cover both Montreal and Verdun. Some ridings cover up to 52 municipalities and all of the mayors want to have their own input. It is quite common for us to visit our riding and to be told: "How about us?"
We represent people in all sectors. My fellow members have no choice in wanting to include regions by rolling two, three or even four riding names into one. People tell us that they pay their taxes and that they want some recognition. It is not easy to be a member of Parliament.
Senator Fraser, I know that you were once a journalist, but have you ever been a member of Parliament?
Senator Fraser: No.
Mr. Lavigne: It is not easy. The name of the riding that I represent was changed and when I go to Pointe Saint-Charles, I am reminded of that. The communities of Côte-Saint-Paul and Pointe Saint-Charles belong to the Verdun-Saint-Henri riding.
Senator Nolin was a member of Parliament, he knows what I am talking about. The people from Côte Saint-Paul have started to tell me: "Lavigne, are you trying to get rid of us?" What can I do, I was given a riding called Verdun-Saint-Henri. I have no choice but to take it.
The people from Pointe Saint-Charles tap me on the shoulder and say: "Lavigne, what's your problem? Now that you are a member, you no longer recognize us?" I tell them that I was born in Saint-Henri, from a family of 14 children, that I am aware of the problem and that I want to try to solve it. I am going to ask for help to change the name of my riding, but it is not an easy task.
Senator Fraser: I would like to correct something. It is true that I have never been a member of Parliament, because, among other reasons, it is a difficult job. You lead a crazy life, something that I could never have done because, physically, I could not have handled it. Please do not think that I am looking down my nose at the members of Parliament because I am asking these questions.
Mr. Crête: In the riding of Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup- Témiscouata-Les Basques, the people from Kamouraska say that they do not live in Les Basques. To them, it is obvious.
If something must be done to simplify the names of the ridings, the same thing should apply throughout the country.
Senator Fraser: Yes.
Mr. Crête: I will give you an example. Where I come from, if people hesitated between naming the riding Chapais in memory of Thomas Chapais or Lapointe in memory of Ernest Lapointe, the results would depend on whether a person was traditionally Liberal or Conservative.
I believe that the riding names should reflect the socio- economic and cultural realities of the area. That is what we must do. But accomplishing that in any logical fashion would be as risky as simply changing the name according to the area represented. An area is neutral and in no way reflects a partisan or political connotation. That is the extent of the problem.
Senator Nolin: I would like to make a correction. Mr. Lavigne, I have never been a member of Parliament. I work hard, but I have never been a member.
Senator Joyal: I was a member and I experienced a change in the name of my riding. This corroborates somewhat what Mr. Bigras said earlier. I first represented the riding of Maisonneuve-Rosemont. The riding covered both the Rosemont and Maisonneuve communities.
Following the riding redistribution, the riding of Rosemont became Rosemont and the riding of Maisonneuve was included in the old riding of Hochelaga and the new riding was given the name Hochelaga.
The people from Maisonneuve thought they had been wiped off the map, as we often say in Quebec. I introduced a bill to amend the name of the riding to make it Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, which represented the true identity of the area. These two communities were quite homogeneous within the riding. They literally covered the physical area of both communities.
I am quite sympathetic to the idea of possibly changing the name of a riding because sometimes the Electoral Boundaries Commission does not exactly grasp all of the sociological and identity implications of the area.
However, as some people have pointed out, there has to be a minimum number of criteria if you want to ensure some degree of consistency. Sometimes consistency is not historical. When the Chief Electoral Officer paid us a visit, there was a provincial riding by the name of Marguerite-Bourgeois and I am sure that she never set foot in this riding. This is a territory that had nothing to do with Ville-Marie at the time and the evangelization that occurred. Sometimes the historic link is purely fictional. We simply want to commemorate the name of an important individual that we do not want to forget.
The Chief Electoral Officer told us that, generally speaking, when the draft map is tabled, the members have a fixed amount of time in which to make presentations that may deal with the physical boundaries of the territory and the name. This is usually the best time to do this, and it avoids a continual reprinting of electoral documents.
Why was it not done at this time? In my opinion, the best time to make changes is when the draft map is on the table.
As far as the general attitude is concerned, I would say that we are always a bit reluctant to tell a member what his riding should be called. The two chambers have a certain principle whereby we are the masters of our own procedure. This does not mean that we do not have a role to play in passing legislation.
We have a status and a constitutional role that we try to fulfil to the best of our ability. The fact remains, however, that we do not want to seem discretionary by saying yes to one person and no to the other. In order to avoid the appearance of being partisan, there should be no criteria. When the Chief Electoral Officer informed us about the procedure, he said that there were some criteria, but that these criteria do not appear to be known. The criteria did not appear to have been explained to the members so that they could understand that this was not solely an arbitrary decision.
He also mentioned that there were 50 printing spaces available on the ballots, and that it would cost a half a million dollars to change this printing process.
There are, therefore, physical limitations with respect to the printing of these ballots. In the case of Verdun-Saint-Paul, do we take out the hyphen or the comma in the name in order to keep within the limit of 50 printing characters?
Why was the change not made when the map was changed? Secondly, were you aware of these criteria? I have no objection in voting on the issue if these criteria were applied. I felt it was important to draw these two aspects of the Chief Electoral Officer's presentation to your attention.
In my opinion, the identity aspect is very important and often, the Electoral Boundaries Commission is not in any position to understand it because the members of the Commission are not rooted in the 75 ridings and do not see how strongly people feel about having the name of their neighbourhood appear on the ballot.
Mr. Lavigne: First of all, I never knew that I could change the name of my riding. I thought it was the Chief Electoral Officer who decided to increase the size of a riding and gave it its name. The people in my riding were always asking to include the name of the neighbourhood which did not figure in the riding name. When I asked Don Boudria about this, he told me that it was too late to begin the process to change the name. This is when I found out that I could change the name of my riding. Then I waited for the right time. This is why I did not do this beforehand.
Mr. Marceau: First of all, Senator Joyal, as you mentioned, you are the Upper Chamber and, given your position, it is difficult to say yes or no to a member of Parliament who wants to change the name of his riding, knowing that this may become quite a significant local political issue for certain members of Parliament. For instance, there would be some political fallout if ever a member of Parliament made a request that was turned down by the Upper Chamber. I appreciate your intervention, it is true that you are in a delicate situation.
That being said, why change the name of my riding now? The reason is very simple. When I was elected in 1997, the electoral map had already been redistributed. I did not have any say in how the map was redistributed, although I would have really liked to have done so.
I tabled my first bill a short while ago. I am not referring to the bill currently before you since they took several bills and merged them. In the beginning, I did not really pay too much attention to the requests I received to change the name of the riding. Considering the fact that we are here to debate the issues, I did not find this matter very important. However, people kept asking me to do this, saying: "Listen, perhaps this is not important because it does not change anything in your life, but as far as we are concerned, it means something." The federal riding of Charlesbourg includes the city of Charlesbourg, with a population of 72,000, but seven other municipalities as well. When I travel to Stoneham or Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval, I am the member for Charlesbourg. I am told: "I am not from Charlesbourg, I come from Stoneham." A lot of people are bothered by the fact that the riding identifies the city.
At the start, I did not think that this was important, but after being told about this time and again, I started giving the matter more thought, and I realized that it is time, after a year and a half of consultation with mayors and citizens, to change the name of the riding. I think that the time was right.
Mr. Desrochers: I was not there either in 1997 when the electoral map was redistributed. I really tried, with the word "Lotbinière," to develop a feeling of belonging. I even consulted my colleague Jacques Baril, the provincial Member of Parliament for Arthabaska, a riding which includes the sector of L'Érable, which are two really dynamic areas. I have an office in Lotbinière and another in Plessisville, which is in the sector of L'Érable. To really meet the needs of the area, it would be preferable to name it Lotbinière-L'Érable.
In June 1999, I took a step in this direction, but my initiative failed because the session was almost over, it was just before the summer. When the new session started, I had to start the process over. Like my colleague from Charlesbourg, I had taken steps on my own before including my request in the bill for which I am appearing this morning. For at least 18 months, I have been telling my fellow citizens that the name would change. All of the people in the sector of L'Érable applauded this decision. If all of the regional municipal counties were to appear in the name of my riding, it would be called Arthabaska-Bécancour-Chutes-de-la-Chaudière-L'Érable-Lotbinière. It would take the Speaker 10 seconds every time he had to say my name.
Everybody would be satisfied if we approve the name of Lotbinière-L'Érable, given that the other municipalities are already identified. Bécancour is already in a riding, Chutes-de-la-Chaudière as well. I too have a problem of confusion. I am fed up with being taken for the provincial member of Parliament. I am a federal member of Parliament. From now on, when we say "the member for Lotbinière-L'Érable", people will know exactly who it is. This is why I consider my initiative to be very important.
The Chairman: Thank you for appearing before us. Sitting here, in a Senate committee, we prefer not to have to tell you what you can name your own ridings. These are your ridings and it would be far better for this to go before a commission to adjudicate what the name of a riding should be. We will not dictate what the name of your riding should be, but the way the law stands now, you must come before us and defend yourselves, and you have done it quite well.
I wish to emphasize -- and this is something that Mr. Lavigne pointed out -- that all the ramifications are not necessarily known to members of Parliament, and they should be known, as it relates to changing the names of their ridings. If the number of characters required is more than 50, it costs the public of Canada $500,000 to rework the computer programs to be able to cope with it. In your case, the Chief Electoral Officer has told us that he can take out the spaces, as in the case of Mr. Crête. In his case, the numbers of letters and spaces adds up to 56. However, by taking out the spaces in between the dashes and the words, the number is reduced to 50. What I want members of Parliament to keep in mind is that if there are more than 50 characters in the name it costs $500,000 to rectify.
Senator Nolin: I would like to know if the member for Chicoutimi was invited to appear before us this morning?
The Chairman: The member for Chicoutimi, Mr. André, was invited but he could not attend. He was not in Ottawa either today or this week. However, he did send out a press release, dated April 18, 2000, stating that the riding of Chicoutimi will now be known as Chicoutimi-Le Fjord.
I wish to remind members of Parliament that the process is such that the bill has to come through the Senate, it has to receive Royal Assent, and it must be proclaimed before it is official.
Senator Nolin: I would really have liked to ask him questions about his impertinence in not respecting this Parliament. I find that unacceptable.
Senator Joyal: I must declare a conflict of interest. I represent the senatorial district of Kennebec which includes part of Mr. Desrochers's riding, that is, Plessisville, and I would like to see the word "L'Érable" in the name of that riding.
The Chairman: Thank you very much for appearing before us. We do appreciate it.
Senators, we now have before us, appearing on Bill C-473, John Bryden, Eugène Bellemare, Ovid Jackson, Dennis Mills, and Peter Goldring. I advised the other group that appeared before us that we conduct our committees within the Senate fairly informally You can make a statement to begin with, if you wish. If not, we will open it up for questions from the senators.
Mr. John Bryden, Member of Parliament, Wentworth- Burlington: I will begin. I wish to change the riding's name from Wentworth-Burlington to Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough- Aldershot because the municipal amalgamation has basically swallowed up three historic communities that were in the former Wentworth County and in fact made the historic Wentworth County disappear all together. The problem is to identify these communities in some sort of way that makes clear their placement in the Hamilton supercity. I feel that it is best to go on the historic boundaries that identify the riding.
The riding of Wentworth-Burlington follows precisely the municipal boundaries of the four communities I described, whose names go back to the late 18th and early 19th century. Everyone in my riding, on hearing the names Ancaster or Flamborough, knows where those communities are.
I agonized over this change because it is a long name. No doubt there is much convenience in a two-word name rather than a four-word name. However, I must say that, on the balance of it, the ability to identify clearly your MP and in whose riding you are is the way of my choice.
I should also like to raise another concern. I unfortunately have a conflict within the riding in that there is a by-election pending. The MPP stepped down in February, and the Harris government has delayed and delayed in calling the by-election. If the name change were to receive proclamation before the by-election is forced by statute, I am afraid of name confusion. I do believe that the premier must call the by-election by October.
In your later deliberations, if there is any way that you can see clear to delay proclamation of this legislation to about October of this year, that delay would be in the interests of my constituents. It would be very unfortunate to have a name change in the middle of the Ontario by-election.
The Chairman: You have posed us quite a problem because we have absolutely nothing to say about the proclamation. All we can do is amend this bill or pass it as is. If we amend it, then that will hold up all the other riding changes because they are all within the same bill.
Mr. Bryden: I do not suggest that you amend the legislation. I appreciate the problem. I am suggesting, although I do not know what the machinery is, that Royal Assent be somehow delayed to later in the year. I have no problem with the bill, and I have no problem with changing the name. It is just that I do have a difficulty in the riding with respect to this by-election.
The Chairman: This bill comes into play, I understand, upon Royal Assent, unless specified otherwise. We will need to look at this carefully. Let us hear the rest of you.
Mr. Eugène Bellemare, Member of Parliament, Carleton-Gloucester: I would first like to congratulate you on this Senate room. As a former professor of visual arts, I must tell you that Mr. Mulroney had good taste.
Senator Nolin: It was Mr. Trudeau, and it was during the first economic summit held in Canada. In the Senate, you know, we are very precise.
Mr. Bellemare: I am familiar with the electoral system and the request for name changes. In 1996, I appeared before the Commission to object to the riding boundaries and the name the riding was to be given. I would like to mention that the Commission should not be the final arbites for such a problems, and I am telling you that from my own experience.
The Elections Act clearly says that when riding redistribution takes place, communities must be respected. If there is a Catholic parish, for example, it should not be divided in two, so that, from one day to the next, half of the parish is in one riding and the other half in another riding. That happened in my riding; Catholic, Anglican, United and two other denominations, which I cannot remember, had their parishes divided in two. Beacon Hill was divided -- it was a solid community before -- Rothwell and Carleton-Heights, which dates back to the time of the Loyalists, was also divided in two. Despite my representations, they made the boundaries using the map. The Commission members are not necessarily residents of the community concerned; they look at maps and often forget that a road may not form the boundary between communities. More often, it is rivers, mountains and visible topographical entities that separate communities from each other. They had changed the name from Carleton-Gloucester to Gloucester-Carleton. I suggested coming back to the original name of Carleton-Gloucester.
In Ontario, the provincial boundaries are the same as those at the federal level. They have the same name. On that point, I contacted the MPP, even though he is from a different party, out of courtesy for him and respect for the system, to let him know that I wanted to change the name of the riding. He was thrilled. I sent him a letter to ask for his comments in writing. He responded that he fully agreed and that he had done his own survey. I do not know what kind of survey he did. Mine was done in the secondary schools and community centres.
The communities of Carleton-Gloucester and Orleans are developing extremely quickly, and there are now some 80,000 residents in this area. People in the municipalities of Cumberland, Orleans and Gloucester, near the Orleans sector, have always wanted their own city, but for that to be possible they would have to separate from the rest of Carleton-Gloucester, Cumberland and Gloucester, and that is impossible. Suddenly, the province decided to merge the 11 municipalities in the Ottawa region. We will have a huge city called Ottawa.
A few years ago, when I heard talk of a municipal merger, I delayed introducing my bill. When I wanted to introduce it again, about two years ago, I had to wait until there was a group of us. When we become parliamentary secretaries, we do not have the right to introduce a bill, we need to wait for a group and have our name included.
In my community of Carleton-Gloucester, 80 per cent of people are bilingual, either because of their upbringing or their work. They are very proud of that situation, even anglophones insist on keeping the accent on Orléans. In the beginning, my bill proposed the name Orléans-Gloucester or Gloucester-Orléans. Now, with the merger, the name Gloucester is disappearing. It is unfortunate, but this is what will happen on January 1, 2001. There is so much consensus in Orléans to keep the name of their city that there would practically be a revolution if they lost it. In the old days, Ottawa-East was called Vanier. People in Gloucester would not like the name Ottawa-East, so I suggested Ottawa-Orléans. I had thought of adding Gloucester, but it would be too long. The Director of Elections Canada talked to me about the costs and complications that that would involve. Besides, one third of Gloucester is in the ridings of John Manley and Mauril Bélanger. If I added the word Gloucester, the acronym for the riding might become GOO or OOG.
I hope that you will be able to help me as well as the people of Gloucester by accepting the name change that I am proposing, Ottawa-Orléans, given that we are now all part of Ottawa.
Senator Andreychuk: I have no comment on what the honourable members are saying.
I did want to comment, however, on Mr. Maurice Vellacott's letter to the committee. I have no direction and, certainly, do not want to change the name to Saskatoon-Wanuskewin, but I took some exception to the comment that Wanuskewin was only a name in Saskatchewan to mean "the riding and a small aboriginal museum." Wanuskewin has a historical meaning in Saskatchewan -- and I do not know which party or which member of Parliament wanted to change Wanuskewin. However, it made eminent good sense for us to start reclaiming a legitimate part of our Saskatchewan history. To make the comment that it is a name that has less significance I do not think is quite correct. I certainly wanted that on the record.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Mr. Ovid Jackson, Member of Parliament, Bruce-Grey: Honourable senators, I am glad to be here today. I am not one who likes to suggest changes to legislation. The name change came to be partially because of the harmonization of the two ridings and also because the provincial riding was called Grey-Owen Sound.
Bill Murdoch wrote me a letter about a year ago asking what I thought about us having concurrent bills -- one before the provincial legislature and one before the federal Parliament -- recognizing that I was the one who had to make the change.
I subsequently found out that a change was occurring and, in fact, that it fell within the specified criteria for name changes to electoral districts. The name reflects the riding primarily as a rural area, as well as a large urban centre that is well recognized by most people. That is something we want to sell when it comes to tourism -- that we have both the rural component as well as the urban component.
As you know, I am the former mayor of Owen Sound, and we made ourselves the regional centre, with the facilities expected of such an area -- hospitals, et cetera. It is a major part of our community structure.
The window is occurring now when the computer programs will be changed and the maps will be made. Thus, it is an opportune time to make the name change. I have the full concurrence of my colleagues at the provincial level. I think it was well accepted by the community, as we discussed it.
Mr. Dennis Mills, Member of Parliament, Broadview-Greenwood: Honourable senators, during the fourth week in January, I was speaking at a rally in Saskatoon. About 15 people came up to me and asked where Broadview-Greenwood is. That was not the first time. Over the last two or three years, at least 10 or 15 times each year, people would ask where the riding is. Most do not know what province it is in.
About three or four months ago, I sat down with my colleagues and my staff in the constituency and we decided that we would be serving our community better with a name change, because of some of the issues that we were attached to. If we could identify ourselves as A, from Toronto and B, from the Danforth -- which is the most popular part of our riding -- because the two streets, Broadview and Greenwood, do not have any symbolic meaning at all.
As we were going through that exercise, we also discovered something quite by chance. We have a very active Web site in our office and I asked my Web master if we had ever checked to see whether we had locked in the name Broadview-Greenwood. Lo and behold, we discovered that the domain Broadview- Greenwood was held by the NDP sitting member. That member had also organized a deal with the NDP municipal councillor with Broadview-Greenwood, Mr. Jack Layton.
My ideological opponents here have locked up those names. That was not the prime concern for me in having the name changed, but it brought to my attention that it is very important, when you change a riding name, to also lock in the domain name for any type of reference that your constituents might want to access.
I would hate to think that when they search "Dennis Mills, Broadview-Greenwood" they end up inside the Web site of my opponents. As you can imagine, even before we applied for consideration from the House of Commons and from you, honourable senators, that, given this potential name change, we locked in the name Toronto-Danforth.
I should tell you that my provincial political counterpart is passionately opposed, naturally, to what I am doing. I told her that if I was re-elected for a fourth term, I might consider changing, if the house concurred to something else, but at this point in time I would appeal to you for consideration on this name change.
Mr. Peter Goldring, Member of Parliament, Edmonton East: Honourable senators, I would like to have the name Edmonton East changed to Edmonton Centre-East, for a number of reasons. The east part of the city of Edmonton is generally considered to be from 97th Street, running north and south. The Edmonton East riding extends over to 109th Street. It takes in the entire downtown core and the river valley area as well.
As I have been sending out mailers and flyers, I find people are surprised to find that they are living in Edmonton East. They think of themselves as living in the city centre. There is no other riding in Edmonton that uses the name "centre" in its name, unlike Scarborough Centre, York Centre, Vancouver Centre, Kitchener Centre, Mississauga Centre, Calgary Centre. It goes on and on.
The importance of this name change is to give identity to the people in the downtown city area. They constitute a considerable percentage of voters in the riding. Edmonton Centre-East -- the name that I would like -- also encompasses City Hall, the legislative building, the stadium and all of the major city centre provisions.
In my mind, it is natural to call it Edmonton Centre-East because Edmonton East does not describe it accurately. The city centre area is undergoing a form of renaissance. There is a lot of pride in new development. New businesses are opening. New buildings are opening. The city core is upbeat. It would be a positive thing to include the city centre in the name of Edmonton Centre-East.
Senator Pearson: I enjoy the discussions we are having because they bring us closer to the kinds of realities you are experiencing. As Mr. Bryden knows, one of my daughters lives in his constituency and I like the idea that Dundas will now get its own name.
For those of you from Ontario, I am confused. Two of you have had a positive relationship and agreement on the new name with your provincial counterpart. The other two have not.
Mr. Mills: That is correct.
Senator Pearson: Who changes the name first? If you change it, can they keep their riding name? How does it work?
Mr. Mills: No. The Harris government enacted a law two years ago that the provincial ridings would follow the same names as the federal ridings named by the Parliament of Canada. They will have to change.
Senator Pearson: What about the municipality? Are they not also following those names?
Mr. Mills: The municipality will eventually be the same way but it is not there yet.
Mr. Bryden: I would just like to put on the record that my problem with my provincial counterpart is that he is not there. He resigned before the name change opportunity came up and the post continues to be vacant. That makes it impossible for me to consult.
Senator Pearson: Does Aldershot encompass Burlington?
Mr. Bryden: Yes. The historic boundary is at Aldershot community. There is a lot of history here. It used to be part of Wentworth. Then it became part of Burlington. I have examined this in great detail and the options are just impossible.
Senator Pearson: I am all for this. It is not a problem, besides, for Paddy Torsney. She is in Burlington.
Mr. Bryden: It also differentiates. Aldershot is a community that has lost its municipal and political identity but its community identity has lived on. The other three municipalities are now losing their political identities, but I can assure you that their historic and community identities will live on. This is a way of not reinforcing it but of acknowledging it.
Senator Pearson: It is an historical tribute.
Mr. Bellemare: I also consulted the mayors of both cities in my riding of Cumberland. Mayor Lalonde concurred with terrific enthusiasm, and fiery Mayor Claudette Cain agreed that it would not be a good change.
The Chairman: That is as good as it gets. Mr. Mills, did you wish to reply?
Mr. Mills: I just wanted to acknowledge a point that my provincial counterpart made that I would like to put on the record. Ms Churley mentioned that it would be a considerable expense for her to change the riding name. In reality, there is no expense. I intend to run out my stationery, and I usually have at least a couple of months' worth. I am sure they would not have much more than that.
There is one sign over her constituency office, and I have costed that out to be $500. There is no real cost to the taxpayers here of any substance.
Senator Beaudoin: Mr. Bellemare, I listened to your presentation and I quite agree with what you are asking for. However, Ottawa-Orléans -- the word Orléans must obviously be added. When you say Ottawa, what are you doing for the smaller cities? Ottawa has more than one riding, does it not?
Mr. Bellemare: Yes.
Senator Beaudoin: So Ottawa-Orléans would be part of Ottawa and all of Orléans, is that right?
Mr. Bellemare: Yes.
Senator Beaudoin: What do the other members of Parliament do whose ridings contain part of Ottawa and outlying areas? Do they talk about part of Ottawa or do they all suggest Ottawa plus another name, or is it Ottawa-Centre, et cetera?
Mr. Bellemare: The problem does not arise, since Ottawa-Centre already exists. The provincial and federal representatives of Ottawa-Centre have no objection to keeping that name. It is a good designation. You have Ottawa-South, which Minister Manley has no objection to changing. If he wanted to change that name, it would be Ottawa-South-Gloucester, but Gloucester is disappearing and becoming Ottawa. You have Ottawa-West. So we would be missing only Ottawa-East, and what would that really mean? There was Ottawa-Vanier, which was called Ottawa-East at the provincial level, and the people of Orléans, who make up the majority of the riding, very much want to keep the name Orléans.
Senator Beaudoin: The generic names are obviously Ottawa and Orléans, and those who are in the centre, the west and the south have no objection?
Mr. Bellemare: I have no idea if they have objections. Besides, I do not see why there would be any objection because there might someday be a riding called Ottawa-Nepean, or something else, since I am just guessing. In Ottawa-Orléans, Gloucester is becoming part of Ottawa, so there can be no objection to that. Where people have already objected, the province has made the decision already. There are currently 11 municipalities, and they will all become part of Ottawa on January 1, 2001. We cannot keep the name Carleton-Gloucester.
Senator Beaudoin: Basically, you are perfectly right. I just wanted to know if, when it is part of the city, you can use the name Ottawa like that, since the others are saying centre, south and west, but as you say, that is a small part. Has there ever been a riding called Ottawa-East?
Mr. Bellemare: There was a provincial riding called Ottawa-East, and it included mainly Vanier and Sandy Hill.
Senator Beaudoin: That is part of your riding.
Mr. Bellemare: No. I am farther out. My riding starts in Orléans.
The Chairman: Actually, Mr. Bellemare's riding is south of Ottawa South and east of Ottawa-Vanier, which used to be called Ottawa East.
Senator Nolin: Your efforts at consultation need to be acknowledged, and it is to be hoped that all your colleagues do as much.
My question is for Mr. Mills. You have heard about the extensive consultation process that your colleague, Mr. Bellemare, went through, and I do not know if you were here earlier when we heard your colleagues from the Province of Quebec. Most of them have undergone massive consultation. What kind of consultation, if there was consultation, did you go through?
Mr. Mills: My consultation essentially was with my constituents. I have only had three constituents who have objected to this name and I literally have hundreds who think it is just fantastic.
I represent a community that is 90 per cent small businessmen and women, and I have canvassed the businessmen and women from different parts of my community. They are very excited about this name change because they feel that they now have an identity. Even in Toronto, Broadview-Greenwood does not mean anything. However, now everyone knows my riding is the Danforth. The Danforth is the most popular street in Canada, after Yonge Street. It is a place of restaurants, where close to 100,000 people visit every day, not just from the City of Toronto but from different parts of Canada. Danforth recognition is there and most of my constituents, I would say a vast majority, feel very proud of being associated with the Danforth.
Those people who have asked me to consider a different name wanted East York-Riverdale. East York-Riverdale is really not much different from Broadview-Greenwood. If I am speaking in St. John's, Newfoundland, or if I am speaking in Halifax or Saskatoon, and I say East York-Riverdale versus Toronto- Danforth, it has a dramatically different representation.
Those of us who are members of Parliament in Toronto are saddled with a strong image that we tend to be very Toronto-centric in our policy thinking, our thought processes, and a vast majority of my colleagues in the Toronto caucus are not like that. We are national politicians. We care about every region of the country and, quite frankly, we like to show other regions of the country where we are from and we especially like to show it when we are working on issues that are beyond our own riding space.
Senator Nolin: Obviously your community is showing a lot of enthusiasm to support that name. Is that the reason for publishing, before Parliament agreed to change the name of your riding, an ad in the paper using the new name that you are asking for?
Mr. Mills: Pardon me? What is that about an ad in the newspaper?
Senator Nolin: You circulated it in your community.
Mr. Mills: Yes, I will explain that. What was the date of that event?
Senator Nolin: It was on April 29, 2000.
Mr. Mills: I will explain that error, senator. Approximately a week or 10 days before we did that, I called our whip and for confirmation that I could begin the process of using the name Toronto-Danforth. I was given an assurance that by that time everything would have been through. That is where that mistake came from.
I should tell you that because it had not gone through we have not used the name anywhere, anyplace, anytime.
Senator Nolin: That is probably the same reason you have already changed the official name of your riding association.
Mr. Mills: No, we have not.
Senator Nolin: It is sponsored by the Toronto-Danforth Liberal Association.
Mr. Mills: We have not changed that.
Senator Nolin: Anticipation?
Mr. Mills: Yes.
Senator Moore: The bill passed April 7, so you probably thought it would go through at the time.
Mr. Mills: I am used to bills like this, quite frankly, going through this place in lightning speed. On this quick bill, obviously it took something of a delay. I must say to you, honourable senators, in no way, shape or form was I not trying to recognize the legitimacy of the Senate of Canada. Most senators know how passionately I feel about the wisdom and the experience of the Senate, especially on issues of substance.
Senator Cools: Mr. Mills is a strong supporter of the Senate.
Senator Fraser: We are always grateful to have strong supporters of the Senate, and I should point out to you that I think we are all in agreement around this table that, as the chair said earlier, we do not like to deal with MP's riding names. That does not seem to be a suitable thing for us to be doing. Nonetheless, the system is that the names come before us and we must give it some thought.
I have been somewhat perplexed by this tendency to triple-, quadruple-, quintuple-barrel names, which seems to be growing. There are always good reasons. You do not need to tell us your good reasons. We understand that in the case of every single riding there is, for that member, a host of good local reasons for stretching out the name. Mr. Bryden made a moving case for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot. Mr. Lavigne made a good case for Verdun-Saint-Henri-Saint Paul-Pointe Saint-Charles. I am sure if Mr. Crête had not been replacing Madam Tremblay, and if he had been here to preach for his own parish, he would have made a good case for Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup-Témiscouata-Les Basques, and so on. This is not the first time we have had names like this come before us.
I am worried about where this will end. I am not sure it will end merely because the Chief Electoral Officer has a 50-character limit, because one day the computers will be reprogrammed. As it is going, he will probably need to put in 150 characters.
The Chief Electoral Officer explained that there are various criteria that can be used for choosing electoral names, and they do not need to be geographical. I appreciate that geographical is geographical-social because we are talking about communities. You could also choose from historical names -- historical events or famous local personages. A riding could be named after a Nobel Prize winner who had grown up in a riding and is non-partisan.
I wonder whether, in all honesty, you, as MPs -- collectively, the 300 of you -- might not find it easier to say: "Wait a minute. We are caught here on a train that is going some place we do not want to necessarily go." Why don't we switch directions and start using other criteria, as we try to think about the names of the ridings that we want. My observation is not necessarily to do with this bill, but with the trend. Are you happy with quadruple name ridings?
Mr. Goldring: The riding is by geographical description and includes centre and east. In my particular instance, it should have been named from the start. It was an error, I believe, to leave out the large area of the city centre from the name itself, if you are going to be descriptive -- and most of the names in the area are descriptive by geography.
Senator Fraser: I do not know enough about who was born where and lived when in Alberta, but let me pluck a name. If your riding were called Ernest Manning, wouldn't that solve a lot of problems?
Mr. Goldring: Possibly. I like the idea of being descriptive. It is proving out that people want to identify with an area. For instance, someone could say, "Yes, I live in the city centre, so I am in the Edmonton Centre-East riding." I think it is preferable to have a geographical description.
Mr. Mills: I think names will be restricted by the number of characters that you are allowed to put on a Web site name.
Mr. Jackson: I agree. We probably need to limit names; it could be ridiculous. There are many long names.
The Chairman: Think of the poor clerks and the Speaker of the House of Commons.
Mr. Jackson: It is like buying a new home: We love to change the decorations, and we find reasons why we want to do it.
Mr. Bryden: If I may also address that point, I was very torn with the negative consequences of a long name. I am not bothered about the effect of a long name on the Speaker of the House of Commons, but I am bothered by the fact that it is difficult to put a long name in a reference in a newspaper column.
I looked very carefully at trying to come up with a name that had some sort of historical relevance that touched all four of the communities that I described. The only name I identify, which I did consider but it would not have flown, is "Coot's Paradise." Coot's Paradise is a body of water that touches all four ridings, and it is a name that goes back to the 18th century.
Senator Cools: I should like to say that I concur with the gentlemen at the table. As I am from Toronto, I take the freedom of saying to Mr. Mills that I commend his choice of renaming Broadview-Greenwood to The Danforth. The Danforth is a term that is used colloquially daily in Toronto to describe that area. There was a period of time when it was Broadview-Danforth, but over time it became The Danforth. It is a name that clearly delineates the part of town that the member is representing.
I agree with the other names, as well. For those of us who have been involved in this business of running and trying to get oneself elected, we would know the difficulties that are involved in informing constituents exactly where they live, what riding they are in and where they should go to vote. This is particularly a problem in some of the ridings where the borders of many different ridings come together. It is very difficult, especially if you have people on two sides of the same street being in different ridings.
It is a difficult process, particularly around where your riding is, Mr. Mills, as it borders on the other areas. Those ridings around there have been gerrymandered quite a bit over the years. Different portions of the riding would move back and forth, as required. On the question of names of ridings, we are dealing with a political concept of geography. They are electoral districts. It is a political, geographical unit. I think that where we have had such an influx of new Canadians -- in your area, Mr. Mills, less so in yours, Mr. Bryden -- it becomes very important that people know from the names of their ridings exactly where they are living, who their members are and what the political boundaries are in respect of representation in Parliament.
I must admit, though, I do think one or two of the names are long. When I lived in Montreal, they were all "Saint-something" and could be said interchangeably. They would say St. Henri or St. Henry district.
If those names can be crowded on the ballots; and if certain persons do not object to a mouthful, I say that anything that brings a bit of clarity to the political process and to those who vote is good. Let us get on with it.
The Chairman: For political clarify, Mr. Mills, as the Danforth is not confined to your riding, what happens to Beaches East York, the other half of the Danforth?
Mr. Mills: No, the area that is popularly known as the Danforth stops at Coxwell, even though the street continues. There is Danforth Road and Danforth Avenue, but as a community centre, the area from Broadview to Coxwell is the heart of it.
The Chairman: I thank you all very much for spending some time with us this morning.
The committee adjourned.