Inside Politics

Riding Redistribution Watch: Conservative MP calls on colleagues to stay out of the process

As the seemingly inevitable pitched battles over the decennial redrawing of the electoral map begins to heat up, Brent Rathgerber has four words of advice for his parliamentary colleagues - stay out of it.  It's worth reading his entire post, but here's the gist of his argument: 

Ethically, I believe that MPs, who intend to run again, are in a complete conflict of interest when lobbying for or against a certain boundary configuration and therefore ought to recuse themselves from a conflict, real or perceived.  If I were to make a submission to the Boundary Commission, which if accepted, assisted in a narrow electoral victory, certainly allegations of gerrymander would follow thereafter.

But, a more practical political consideration is that changed boundaries mean that some current supporters will be represented by someone else following redistribution.  If I were to attend before the Boundary Review and suggest that an appropriate electoral district ought to consist of Neighborhoods:  A B C D and E but not F and G from the current electoral district, how does that make my volunteers and supporters in F and G feel??  Having toiled to get me elected twice (some would say an overwhelming task!) their MP has now publically stated he no longer wants to represent them!  This approach is especially perilous if the Boundary Commission were to reject my submission and accordingly I would be left with certain party faithful after announcing that I was prepared to jettison them.

There are far greater issues at stake than the electoral (dis)advantage of any particular political party or candidate.  The integrity of the electoral process and the fairness of elections mandates that the drawing of boundaries be done fairly, independently and using only appropriate criteria.

Given the almost visceral reaction that such changes tend to elicit from sitting MPs, it seems unlikely that Rathgeber's argument will persuade many of his fellow Commons denizens to sit back and let the new electoral world order unfold as it may. Stay tuned!
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