Montreal town officials ready for legal fight against Quebec electoral map reform

Four municipalities and one borough have banded together and will be going to court to fight changes to the new provincial electoral map.

'It's not fair': West end officials say changes to ridings will dilute voices of linguistic, ethnic minorities

The new map merges the Mount Royal and Outremont ridings, while modifying the boundaries of D'Arcy McGee. (Elections Quebec)

Four municipalities and one borough have banded together and will be going to court to fight changes to the new provincial electoral map.

The new electoral map, created by the Electoral Representation Committee, would merge the provincial ridings of Mount Royal and Outremont, and modify the boundaries of the D'Arcy McGee riding — essentially transforming three ridings into two.

Critics of the plan have said this would alter the historical anglophone and ethnic makeup of the ridings, which are all Liberal strongholds.

The independent committee makes changes to the province's riding boundaries after every other election. It looks at increases and decreases in population and then makes changes so that voters are fairly represented in the National Assembly.

The municipalities of Côte Saint-Luc, Hampstead, Town of Mount-Royal and the boroughs of Outremont and Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, are all opposed to the change. They've started raising money to pay the legal fees to fight it in court.

Former Liberal MP Marlene Jennings now co-chairs a west-end citizen's committee, which hired constitutional lawyer Julius Grey to contest the decision.

She said the votes of Montreal's linguistic and ethnic communities were already diluted in the early 90s, when the electoral commission removed four ridings on the island.

"That means our effective representation is being even further diluted. That's not right. It's simply not right. It's not fair.''

Grey said democracy relies on a fair division of electoral boundaries and he hopes this case will set an example.

"I think it would have repercussions across, in that people everywhere would know you can't just do what has at times been done in the States and fix boundaries so as to make sure that one group counts for more than another," he said.

Grey hopes to have his case heard by the fall and settled in time for the next provincial election, which is set for fall 2018.

Downtown riding spared

This is not the first time a proposal to modify the electoral map raised the ire of citizens.

In February, one of the ridings on the chopping block was Montreal's downtown riding of Sainte-Marie–Saint-Jacques, represented by Québec Solidaire MNA Manon Massé.

After complaints, a petition and protests from citizens who said they were concerned about losing their democratic voice, the plan to eliminate the riding was scrapped.