Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More seats for Legislature, but same level of representation for Northern BC

Gary Coons won’t be going as far north as before, and a few other ridings will expand or contract their borders, but for the most part it’s going to be the status quo in the landscape of BC representation.

After a number of months of discussion, confusion and eventually negotiation, the Government has decided to expand the BC Legislature to accommodate a growing population, all the while as it protects current ridings in under populated areas.

The Daily News had details of the developments in Monday’s paper.

Politician breath sigh of relief as boundaries saved
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, March 17, 2008
Page Three

After a lengthy battle, northern politicians will get to keep the number of current provincial ridings in the region.

Legislation passed on the Legislature last week adopted the new electoral boundaries but without the elimination of a riding in Prince George and the Cariboo Thompson region.

The Electoral Boundaries Commission had recommended eliminating two rural ridings, but the proposal was opposed by both the Liberals and NDP.

Government House Leader Mike de Jong said the motion to redraw the election map will not see the loss of any rural riding, and will increase the number of MLAs.

“It creates and electoral map of 85 seats from the 79 that we presently have and it guarantees that representation in all of the regions, most particularly the rural regions will either increase or remain the same.” he said.

De Jong said retaining the rural ridings and adding six ridings in urban areas like metro Vancouver will make sure that voters across the province are properly represented.

Municipal politicians from the north had been lobbying to keep the ridings through the North Central Municipal Association, going as far as staging a political demonstration outside of a hearing in Prince George earlier this year.

De Jong said the motion will lead to legislation that should be passed during the spring session in order to take effect in time for the next provincial election, on May 12, 2009.

However, the B. C. Civil Liberties Association is condemning the retention of lower-population ridings, saying it undermines the principle of voter parity, and it’s threatening to challenge the new election map in court.

”If the government proceeds with this plan, the BCCLA will got to court to seek orders protecting constitutionally guaranteed voting rights of all British Columbians from this unconscionable attack on fundamental freedoms,” association president Jason Gratl said in a release.

No comments: