The Standing Committee on Procedure and House
Affairs has the honour to present its
to the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. E-3, as
amended, the Committee has considered the matter of the objections to the report
of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for New Brunswick.
each decennial census an electoral boundaries commission is established for
each province. The Chief Electoral
Officer calculates the number of Members of the House of Commons assigned to
each province according to the provisions of section 51 of the Constitution
Act, 1867. Following advertisements
and representations from interested persons, each commission prepares a report
on the division of the province into electoral districts based on population
and corresponding as closely as reasonably possible to the quotient of Members
per population for that province.
considerations, each commission is to take into consideration the community of
interest or community of identity or the historical pattern of an electoral
district in the province, as well as what constitutes a manageable geographic
size in cases of sparsely populated, rural or northern regions. The commission may depart by a variance of
up to plus or minus 25% of the quotient in order to accommodate such
commission’s report is forwarded to the Chief Electoral Officer, who in turn
sends it to the Speaker of the House of Commons, who tables the report in the
House. The report is referred to the
Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
accordance with the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, after each
commission report has been tabled in the House of Commons, Members of the House
of Commons have 30 calendar days in which to file objections to the
proposals contained in each report. The
Act requires that objections must be in the form of a motion, in writing,
specify the provisions of the report objected to and the reasons for the objection,
and must be signed by not less than 10 Members of the House.
objections are filed, the Committee has 30 sitting days, or such longer
period of time as may be approved by the House of Commons, to consider the
objections. Following this, the
commission report, the objections, and the minutes of proceedings are returned
to the Speaker, who transmits them to the Chief Electoral Officer. The Chief Electoral Officer returns the
material to the relevant electoral boundaries commission, which has 30 days in
which to dispose of the objections. The
commission then finalizes its report.
all the commission reports have been finalized, the Chief Electoral Officer
prepares a draft representation order setting out the boundaries and names of
the new electoral districts. This is
sent to the Governor in Council, which must proclaim it within five days. No changes can be made by the Chief
Electoral Officer or the Government.
The representation order comes into effect one year after it is
proclaimed, and is in force for any federal general election called after that
of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for New Brunswick, 2003 was
tabled in the House of Commons on 12 February 2003. By the end of the 30-day period, six objections (from five
Members) had been filed with the Clerk of the Committee. The Subcommittee on Electoral Boundaries
Readjustment of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was
appointed to consider these objections.
This report contains the comments and recommendations of the Subcommittee,
as adopted by the Committee, on the proposed changes for the Province of New
Brunswick contained in the Report of the Federal Electoral Boundaries
Commission for New Brunswick, 2003.
John Herron, Member of Parliament for Fundy-Royal, filed two objections.
objection was to the proposed transfer of the Town of Rothesay to the riding of
St. John. Mr. Herron’s objection
was based on a community of interest.
Rothesay and the neighbouring town of Quispamsis – commonly referred to together
as the Kennebecasis Valley – share regional protective, planning and emergency
services, as well as a library and recreational facilities. They have shared infrastructure projects and
are currently discussing the development of a regional wastewater
facility. Both Quispamsis and Rothesay
town councils have passed formal motions against their separation into
different electoral districts. Rothesay
took the unusual step – and expense – of commissioning a poll to support their
council motion. In the Commission’s
report, it was stated that evidence presented at the hearings supported the
need to keep the Kennebecasis Valley intact.
evident from hearings that Rothesay and Quispamsis form a community of interest
that should be represented as a whole.
This community, the Kennebecasis Valley, is separate from St. John. Both towns have taken strong measures to
ensure that their opinion in this matter be heard. We support Mr. Herron’s objection to the proposed transfer of the
Town of Rothesay to the riding of St. John.
Herron’s other objection was to the proposed transfer of the parishes of Kars,
Springfield and Studholm to the riding of St. Croix. This objection was based on a community of interest. Mr. Herron argued that it would be practical
to keep these three parishes with Fundy.
If transferred, they would be the only three parishes east of the
St. John River – the significant historical and natural demarcation for
the region – not in the electoral district of Fundy. Also, according to Mr. Herron, the riding of St. Croix is a large
riding which includes three islands in the Bay of Fundy that present, for New
Brunswick, unique travel and representation challenges. Servicing these three parishes at the far
end of St. Croix would be more difficult for the Member for St. Croix. With a population of 5,500 persons, the
three parishes would alter neither riding significantly.
Herron also proposed in this objection that the name of the riding remain Fundy
Royal. These three parishes comprise a
significant portion of Kings County.
Queens County and Albert County – named for the Prince Consort to Queen
Victoria – are also in the proposed riding.
These associations reflect a long-standing, historical connection with
the Canadian monarchy which should be reflected in the name of the riding.
questioned on Mr. Herron’s objection and comments, Mr. Thompson, Member of
Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest indicated equanimity towards Mr.
Herron’s objection only if the loss of these areas were redressed by the
restoration of the northern portions of (what is currently) New Brunswick
Southwest, which are to be transferred to Tobique-Mactaquac. No objection has been filed with respect to
Tobique-Mactaquac, and the Committee has no mandate to redraw the entire
electoral map of New Brunswick, or to make recommendations for doing so.
Committee acknowledges from the evidence of both Mr. Thompson and Mr. Heron
that the proposed riding of St. Croix does present geographical challenges that
justify it having a substantially smaller population compared to the electoral
quotient. Visiting Deer, Campobello and
Grand Manan Islands, which comprise parts of the riding, is a day or two’s
journey by available transportation.
The Committee, however, also believes that with regard to representation
of the other end of St. Croix, it makes lesser or little difference whether the
riding stretches more to the east rather than the north.
absence of evidence to the contrary, it would also seem to the Committee that
the parishes of Kars, Springfield and Studholm share a commonality with
adjacent parishes in both St. Croix and Fundy.
Either riding forms a potential communal representation of rural New Brunswick
regard to the numbers and according to Elections Canada data: adding Rothesay
back into the proposed riding of Fundy would increase Fundy’s variance to
+11.7%, but would still leave St. John within the ideal variance of 5%, at
–4.5%. The addition of Quispamsis to
the riding of St. John would put St. John at +30.3%. The inclusion of the
parishes of Kars, Springfield and Studholm, in conjunction with the inclusion
of Rothesay, would put Fundy at a variance of approximately +19.4%, which would
be high. The removal of Kars, Springfield and Studholm from St. Croix would
place it at –21.11%, which is close to 25%, the maximum variance allowed by
statute, for exceptional circumstances.
The inclusion into Fundy of Kars, Springfield and Studholm, but not
Rothesay would put Fundy at +3.58%.
Committee therefore strongly recommends that Rothesay and Quispamsis remain
together in one electoral district. The Committee does believe that an urban
constituency over the provincial quotient is easier to service than a rural
constituency under the provincial quotient.
the split of Kings and Queens counties between the proposed ridings of St.
Croix and Fundy, the Committee believes that if the proposed boundaries remain,
the proposed riding name of Fundy should stand.
Greg Thompson, Member of Parliament for New Brunswick Southwest, filed an
objection that the name of the new constituency be St. Croix-Belleisle instead
of the proposed name of St. Croix.
Mr. Thompson believes that the name St. Croix-Belleisle would better
reflect the major water systems of both the eastern and western boundaries of
the proposed electoral district.
to Mr. Thompson, Belleisle has great historical significance in New Brunswick
and to the parishes of Kings and Queens counties that are included in the
proposed riding. As the Commission
noted in its report, St. Croix has great significance to the western part of
the constituency, but Mr. Thompson has concerns that the name may be less well
known and recognized by the residents of the other five counties that compose
the constituency. Therefore, he argues,
the addition of Belleisle to the name would be suitably descriptive of the
entire community and would accord with the Commission’s desire to reflect the
area’s geography and history and as well the bilingual nature of New Brunswick.
Subcommittee’s hearings, evidence indicated that the name change might, in
part, be somewhat contingent on whether the counties of Kars, Springfield and
Studholm are transferred to St. Croix as proposed. (See section on Fundy above.) The Committee agrees with
Mr. Thompson’s arguments that the southern and eastern sections of the
riding be appropriately reflected in the name of the riding and supports Mr.
Andy Savoy, Member of Parliament for Tobique-Mactaquac, filed an objection to
the proposed transfer of portions of the parishes of Maugerville and
Northfield, which are currently in two separate ridings – Fredericton and
Fundy–Royal – to the proposed electoral district. In his view, this would render Tobique-Mactaquac too large to
provide fair and equal representation.
Tobique-Mactaquac is already the largest riding in the Maritimes and the
Commission’s proposal would enlarge it from 14,105 sq. km to almost 17,000 sq.
Subcommittee hearings, Mr. Savoy noted that Andy Scott, Member for the adjacent
riding of Fredericton, supported Mr. Savoy’s objection. The Subcommittee received a letter from Mr.
Scott confirming Mr. Scott did not oppose Mr. Savoy’s objection. Both Mr. Savoy and Mr. Scott praised the
Boundaries Commission for listening to the comments made at the public hearings
and returning the boundaries from the Commission’s original proposals to the
status quo, save for the apparent oversight of these two areas.
discussion and according to data from Elections Canada, it appears that the
portions discussed comprise two polls and 605 people in total. The transfer of these polls to Fredericton
would take Tobique-Mactaquac from a variance of about –3.3% to –3.6% and Fredericton from about +12.9% to +13.1%. There seem to be no other objections that
could trigger a domino effect to affect these numbers further. The Committee is also satisfied that these
areas in question form a community of interest with Fredericton, and,
therefore, supports Mr. Savoy’s objection and recommends the portions in
question be transferred to Fredericton.
Yvon Godin, Member of Parliament for Acadie-Bathurst, filed an objection
against the proposed transfer of part of the county of Gloucester –
specifically portions of the parishes of Bathurst and Suamarez and the parish
of Allardville – from the electoral district of Acadie-Bathurst to that of
Miramichi. The reasons for the
of identity was not given due weight; these are essentially francophone
communities being appended to a riding where the majority is anglophone.
Commission did not take into account the rules governing community of interests,
including language, culture and history.
These are communities that describe themselves as having much more in
common economically and in outlook with the greater Bathurst and
Tracadie-Shiela region than with Miramichi.
of the public who appeared before the Commission during the public hearings
spoke out against the proposed boundary changes.
issue of the electoral quota is not a major concern for Acadie-Bathurst if one
looks at other New Brunswick ridings and the New Brunswick electoral quotient
as a whole. Acadie-Bathurst’s variance
of +14% is under the allowable maximum of 25%, other ridings in the province
also have variances greater than 5% from the ideal.
proposed boundary adjustment to Acadie‑Bathurst will affect the objection
filed for Miramichi, so the discussion and recommendations below will include
both Acadie-Bathurst and Miramichi. The
Committee is also aware that there may also be repercussions for
Madawaska-Restigouche and Beauséjour, whose proposed changes have prompted no
objections to be filed.
Subcommittee received over 6,000 postcards from Mr. Godin’s constituents
supporting his objection, and 46 Members of Parliament from across Canada
signed the motion filing his objection. At the hearing, Mr. Godin brought to
the Subcommittee’s attention the comments of the Federal Official Languages
Commissioner following a complaint that Mr. Godin had lodged. The Commissioner responded that the Federal
Electoral Boundaries Commission for New Brunswick had not met its responsibilities
under section 41 of the Official Languages Act, pertaining to the
Government of Canada’s commitment to promote the development and vitality of
anglophone and francophone minority communities in Canada. This issue was also brought before the House
of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages, whose Fifth Report
comments and makes recommendations, in part, on the proposed Acadie-Bathurst
Committee cites these examples as evidence of the depth of feeling that some
members of the Acadie-Bathurst electoral district hold and the very public
nature of the debate. The essential
issues, however, remain the same.
core problem, as the Committee sees it, is that Miramichi is significantly
under the electoral quotient while Acadie-Bathurst is over. Without the addition of sections from
Acadie-Bathurst, the proposed riding of Miramichi would fall to approximately –
23% variance from the electoral quotient.
This puts it very close to –25%, the maximum variance allowed by
statute. It does appear that the
Commission focused primarily on the issue of these numbers and attempted to
straighten out what has been an apparently chronic situation with regard to
meeting the statutory principle of one person, one equal vote.
are several adjustments that seem to have been made to take into account a
domino effect of transferring populations within these northern ridings of New
Brunswick. The additions to Miramichi –
particularly Belledune, Colborne and Durham – appear to redress the transfer of
sections of Miramichi – already substantially below the electoral quotient – to
Beauséjour. The Committee infers, in
the absence of an objection, that this adjustment between Miramichi and
Beauséjour was also done to meet the requests of a linguistic community. The Committee, however, cannot, nor should
it, intervene where objections have not been filed.
regard to the proposed transfer of Bathurst Parish, Allardville and parts of
Saumarez, it seems clear to the Committee that the region forms, most
vociferously, a community of identity with the rest of Acadie-Bathurst. With regard to Bathurst Parish, evidence
presented by Mr. Godin indicates that Bathurst Parish forms, additionally,
a community of interest with Bathurst.
circumstances here, the desires of the local community seem at first to be at
variance with the principle of an equal vote province-wide. While individuals are important, so too are
communities, which are composed of individuals. The Electoral Boundaries Adjustment Act, like other laws
and accepted practices and traditions in Canadian society, attempts to balance
individual and societal interests. In
the case of electoral boundaries, these sometimes-competing interests are joined
by issues relating to democratic rights, minority concerns, and effective
case made by Mr. Godin, with the added weight – literally the added weight in
the case of the thousands of postcards received by the Committee – of
supplementary evidence indicates that Members of Parliament represent
communities as much as they do individual voters. Once elected, the representation and services a Member provides
the community – the “surgery” as the riding office is called in the original
British system – is integral to that community, be it a community of interest
or a community of identity. Mr.
Hubbard’s representation to the Committee indicated too that his objection has
to do with the quality of service and of “connectedness” to the riding, albeit
due to distance. Splitting the
communities of Acadie-Bathurst and attaching them to Miramichi makes little
sense to that richer sense of providing an equality of vote and equality of
responsible representation after the voting is done.
regard to the numbers and according to data from Elections Canada, leaving
Acadie-Bathurst boundaries as they currently are would place Acadie-Bathurst at
a variance of approximately +14% and Miramichi at approximately – 23%.
Committee, therefore, agrees with Mr. Godin’s assertion that in this case,
leaving the current boundaries alone and accepting a variance of approximately
+14% is both allowable and preferable.
The Committee directs the attention of the
Boundaries Commission and other readers to its general comments below, which
look to a more practicable approach aimed at achieving a long‑term
solution to an issue which it suspects will re-occur.
Charles Hubbard, Member of Parliament for Miramichi, filed an objection to the
proposed addition of some of Gloucester and Restigouche counties to the
electoral district of Miramichi.
Miramichi will expand to have extremities some 250 kilometres
apart. The economic centre has few
connections to the territories added in Gloucester and Restigouche, and the
Member of Parliament will need to travel through “the woods” or through another
constituency to get to these new areas.
the Committee is sympathetic to Mr. Hubbard’s objection, it recognizes that if
the parishes from Restigouche County – Belledune, Colborne and Durham – were
returned to Madawaski-Restigouche it would place Miramichi at a –27% variance
from the provincial quotient: below what is allowable by statute. The geographical unwieldiness of the boundaries
proposed by the Commission is most unfortunate. At the same time, however, the
Committee understands there is considerable reluctance to separate Charlo from
the parish of Colborne, as currently proposed; as we have recommended for
Rothesay and Quispamsis and on the basis of a community of interest, we agree
that Colborne should be in the same constituency as Charlo.
Committee does not wish to set too great a precedent for elaborate or
philosophical commentary on its recommendations or role in this process, but in
certain circumstances, such as the strong and public argumentation brought to
electoral boundaries adjustment in New Brunswick, it feels a few general
comments might be worth making.
boundaries can be contentious when they touch upon people’s sense of identity
and community. One of the privileges of
being Canadian, however, is the quality of tolerance, fairness and proper
representation Canadians can – and should – expect to receive wherever they
vote and whenever they deal with their Members of Parliament. The concerns and feelings expressed over
some individual cases of electoral representation should not prevent those who
do not receive all they expect from this process from taking the larger view: that
there is a quality of excellent representation which exists wherever the
polling booth. The Committee also
points out that compromise and hard work to ensure compromise works is the
Canadian remedy par excellence to most differences of opinion or
that light, we also hope that the reported comments of the Chairman of the New
Brunswick Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission do not reflect an
unwillingness to revisit their proposals in light of this report. The Commission has had difficult
circumstances and it would set a fine object lesson in Canadian democracy to
continue their hard work in a spirit of compromise.
it seems to the Committee that given current and previous challenges presented
by the adjustment of New Brunswick’s electoral boundaries, all parties involved
need to take an imaginative, proactive stance – today – for the next decennial
attention should be paid all the comments of the previous and current
boundaries commissions, particularly the minority reports of 1996 and the
supplementary opinions provided in 2003.
It may be that the next census might demand more radical changes. Therefore, the groundwork and preparation
for a proper redrawing of the electoral boundaries needs to be laid in
anticipation of the next decennial census in order that all can participate in
and become acclimated to the next round of boundaries adjustments.
45. In accordance with the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment
Act, the report of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for New Brunswick, the objections, and the minutes of proceedings of the
Committee and Subcommittee will be returned to the Speaker and the Chief
Electoral Officer. We urge the
Commission to consider carefully the objections, and the comments and
recommendations contained in this report.
A copy of the relevant Minutes of
No. 39) is tabled.