We’re about to find out how many new seats there will be in Parliament. Then the fighting starts

Yes, indeed. Looking forward to the overview and eventually the new riding list:

The federal election may be over but a new fight over ridings is about to start.

On Friday, the Star has learned, Elections Canada will announce the number of new seats each province will be allocated in the House of Commons. It’s not quite the gerrymandering that occurs in the United States — where politicians draw zigzags to create safe districts — but every 10 years in Canada new constituencies are added and riding boundaries are reviewed. And here too, MPs have lots to say about where they want those lines to be.

“Every party is going to look at this and say, ‘OK, what polls did we win? Where did we lose? How can we create a combination that will give us the best outcome at election time?,’” one MP told the Star. “Everybody does it.”

It may be less overt — and less successful — in Canada but political parties will try to sway the decisions of the independent three-person commissions that decide where the boundaries go.

Those panels, one for each province, will be struck in the next two weeks. The chair is named by the province’s chief justice and the two other members by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Liberal MP Anthony Rota. Over the next year, they’ll draw up a proposal for where they think the lines should be, based on population data from this year’s census. The public will then have a say before a final report is issued. That’s where things can get interesting.

In 2012, for example, when the Saskatchewan commission suggested getting rid of eight pizza-shaped ridings that split Regina and Saskatoon up into four pieces with a tiny bit of urban area and a large rural part, there was massive opposition.

The commission suggested creating two urban districts in Regina and three in Saskatoon to reflect the cities’ rapid growth. They expected 40 people to show up at the hearings: 230 registered. Four extra days were added to the schedule.

MPs came, as did defeated candidates, small town representatives and the public. The vast majority opposed the changes. But once commissioners started receiving identical postcards and petitions and 3,000 written submissions, they understood politicians had mobilized their supporters.

Source: We’re about to find out how many new seats there will be in Parliament. Then the fighting starts

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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