Electoral boundary changes could affect northern Ontario

Proposed changes to the federal electoral districts could see some boundary lines moved in northeastern Ontario, which may not be good for northern voters, says one northern MP.

Proposed changes to the federal electoral districts could see some boundary lines moved in northeastern Ontario.

map with the proposed changes was released this week.

Nickel Belt MP Claude Gravelle, says some changes will hinder the northern voters’ ability to be heard in Ottawa effectively. His district would become Nickel  Belt – Temiskaming.

"It’s going to be impossible to represent the people of both Folyet and New Liskeard effectively," Gravelle said. "The territory is just too big."

Two other towns affected by the proposed changes are Hearst and Kapuskasing. The changes would have them switch from the Algoma – Manitoulin – Kapuskasing district to the Timmins – James Bay riding.

"We have to look at how people would be serviced if those changes actually occur the way they are," MP Carol Hughes for Algoma – Manitoulin – Kaspuskasing said.

"For me to close an office in one area and put an office in another area is not problematic for this end of the riding, but it would be bad for that other end of the riding if that MP doesn't have the funds to have another office."

Hughes says similar concerns will likely be reflected in other communities across northeastern Ontario.

Other proposed changes would see voters in Englehart form part of Nickel Belt – Temiskaming, instead of Timmins – James Bay.

People west of Copper Cliff will be part of a proposed Algoma – Manitoulin – Killarney riding, instead of voting in the Sudbury riding.

In the past, MP’s have expressed concern over losing a riding because of the declining population. Although they won’t be losing one this time, it does not mean they have any more clout, according to a political science professor.

"Even though we might feel like we dodged a bullet in that we keep our 10 electoral districts, of course overall the province has gained 15 districts — of which we get none — and so our relative strength has declined," said David Tabachnick, chair of political science at Nipissing University.

Most of the proposed new electoral districts in Ontario are located in and around Toronto, due to an increase in population.

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario says public hearings will be held this October and November on the proposed new electoral map.