Yellowknife to sue territory over electoral boundaries
'There seems to be a chronic underrepresentation of this community,' says mayor Mark Heyck
Yellowknife Mayor Mark Heyck says the city is going to go ahead with a lawsuit against the territorial government over representation in the legislative assembly.
Almost half of the people in the N.W.T. live in Yellowknife, but the city has only about one third of the 19 seats in the legislature. In 2013, MLAs decided against giving the city another seat in the legislature.
The city is asking the courts to review the decision.
"We've looked at the case law and precedents and it's fairly clear to us that Yellowknife as a community in the territorial context is severely underrepresented," said Heyck.
"That was the case in 1999, and the numbers are a bit more modest this time than they were back then — but at the same time, there seems to be a chronic underrepresentation of this community and we hope the courts will remedy that."
In 1999, a Yellowknife-based group went to court and won two extra seats for Yellowknife and one more for Hay River.
A 2013 report by the N.W.T. electoral boundaries commission concluded Yellowknife and the Tlicho region have the highest numbers of residents per electoral district. The report proposed three options for redistribution: reduce the legislature by one MLA, maintain 19 electoral districts, or add two more seats: one in Yellowknife and one in the Tlicho.
MLAs voted to maintain 19 districts, and redistribute part of Yellowknife's Weledeh riding to Tu Nedhe.
The motion that denied Yellowknife more seats passed with the support of the three Yellowknife cabinet ministers and one regular MLA — Robert Hawkins.
One of those cabinet ministers — Kam Lake MLA David Ramsay — also turned down a city request to use his authority as Justice Minister to ask the courts to review the decision.
N.W.T. electoral districts by population
The following chart shows the current population of electoral districts.
|Hay River North||1937|
|Hay River South||1664|
|Inuvik Boot Lake||1838|
|Inuvik Twin Lakes||1483|
Source: N.W.T. Electoral Boundaries Commission, 2013 report.
- An earlier version of this story said the City of Yellowknife planned to file a lawsuit against the territorial government this week. In fact, the city plans to do so in the near future.Apr 20, 2015 4:11 PM CT