Three of the five public hearings on proposed changes to Manitoba’s federal electoral boundaries, including one scheduled for Thompson, have been cancelled, the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Manitoba announced Oct. 11.
The Thompson hearing, as well as one in Dauphin, both of which were scheduled for Oct. 19, have been cancelled, as has one in Brandon that was to have taken place on Oct. 18. The hearings were cancelled due to the low number of requests to appear (one for each meeting), the commission said in a news release.
Hearings scheduled for Selkirk and Winnipeg will proceed as planned. Following the hearings, the commission will make it final decisions, which could see new boundaries set for up to 12 of Manitoba’s 14 federal electoral districts.
The hearings were to have been open to the public but those who wished to make presentations to the commission had to provide written notice by Oct. 1. The people who had planned to address the commission during the Brandon, Dauphin and Thompson meetings were advised of their cancellation and will present their views to the commission via teleconference instead.
Among the commission’s proposals is a plan to enlarge the Churchill electoral district to include the northern half of the current Selkirk-Interlake riding. Recently, the two ridings have been ideological opposites, with Churchill mostly an NDP stronghold since 1979, while Selkirk-Interlake has been in Reform, Canadian Alliance or Conservative hands since its creation in 1997. In the 2011 federal election, 51 per cent of ballots in the Churchill riding were for the NDP while 65 per cent in Selkirk-Interlake were for the Conservatives. However, the portion of Selkirk-Interlake that may be added to the Churchill riding is sparsely populated.
“Population equality was a big factor for the commission,” said Richard Chartier, chair of the three-member commission, in a statement this summer. “But in redrawing new boundaries, we strove to keep communities together and did our utmost to avoid splitting municipalities, aboriginal communities and designated bilingual areas.”
The commission’s proposal aims to keep electoral district populations close to the provincial average for the next 10 years and to reflect the shift of population fro urban to rural areas as well as projections of further growth for Winnipeg.
Every decade, federal electoral boundaries are reviewed by the commission.
- With files from Jonathan Naylor, The Reminder (Flin Flon)