Edmonton

Electoral boundary review may be ace-in-the-hole for NDP

The electoral map of Alberta may look significantly different for the next provincial election, tilting the field in favour of the NDP, political observers say.

'Redrawing of the boundaries this time may result in the loss of six to 10 seats in rural Alberta'

Elections Alberta will soon begin the task of redrawing the province's electoral boundaries. (CBC News)

The electoral map of Alberta may look significantly different for the next provincial election, tilting the field in favour of the NDP, political observers say.

This week, the NDP government introduced legislation to allow for the early appointment of a new electoral boundaries commission.

By law, boundaries are redrawn after every second election, and the former government's snap election call last year has forced the province to move the process ahead by a year.

But rural Albertans are worried about what may come out of the commission, political pundit Paul McLoughlin told CBC's Edmonton AM Thursday.

"In this case, there's been a lot of talk and a lot of chatter in politics about what the impact on rural Alberta will be."

McLoughlin, publisher of the political newsletter Alberta Scan, said it would shock him if the boundary map wasn't drawn to eliminate more rural seats, seats held primarily by Wildrose MLAs.

"One of the many groups that is trying to get the Conservatives together in one party, they were suggesting that the redrawing of the boundaries this time may result in the loss of six to 10 seats in rural Alberta," he said.

As the boundaries are redrawn to reflect Alberta's shifting population, more seats will accrue in Edmonton and Calgary, he said.

"Not to say that an independent boundaries commission would draw the boundaries to the advantage of an NDP government," he said.

"Nonetheless, that's been the history of this province for many, many years that the boundaries would be drawn to make sure that rural Alberta had a significant representation in the Progressive Conservative governments."

The previous commission warned the legislative assembly needs to seriously consider how the urban/rural split will be addressed in the future.

"The commission believes that this is a province-wide issue which will have to be addressed, probably before the next commission is appointed," wrote Judge Ernest Walter, noting that outlying ridings may be fewer and larger in the future.

"This raises a question about how large a division can be before it involves so many non-common interests that it is impractical for the disparate issues of the electors to be represented, and for the MLA to represent them."

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