Addendum – Disposition of Objections Relating to Electoral Boundaries – Alberta
This is the list of the objections and the Commission's disposition of those objections.
1. Edmonton Centre
The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, P.C., the Member for Edmonton Centre, objected to the placement of the central portion of the northern boundary of the revised electoral district of Edmonton Centre in the Reportfootnote 1. Currently, and in the initial Proposal, Edmonton Centre's northern border follows the transportation corridor formed by the Yellowhead Highway and the Canadian National Railway. However, in its Report, the Commission has placed in Edmonton Centre three communities (Athlone, Calder and Kensington) that are to the north of this transportation corridor and cut off by it from the rest of Edmonton Centre.
Mr. Boissonnault proposed that Athlone, Calder and Kensington instead be placed in the revised electoral district of Edmonton Griesbach. In order to balance out the difference in population for Edmonton Centre, he proposed to add the communities of Parkview and Laurier Heights to Edmonton Centrefootnote 2. He indicated that these two communities are well connected with the communities to their southwest in that all border the North Saskatchewan River, share community leagues, schools, and hockey rinks, and have been together in the same federal electoral district since 2004.
Mr. Boissonnault argued that the Yellowhead Highway has long served as a definitive human-made physical and psychological barrier in the City of Edmonton, and ought to be utilized as the northern boundary for Edmonton Centre. According to Mr. Boissonnault, drawing a northern boundary for Edmonton Centre above the Yellowhead Highway would not adequately consider the historical pattern of this electoral district, nor would it take into account the community of identity of the electoral district, as set out in section 15 of the Act.
Mr. Boissonnault noted that the Yellowhead Highway:
- for almost four decades, has often served as a boundary between north and central Edmonton during federal electoral boundary readjustments;
- is utilized, for the most part, as the north-south provincial and municipal border for electoral districts;
- is the north-south boundary for postal codes;
- is the border between the north and central divisions for the Edmonton public school districts;
- is considered by business organizations, such as the Kingsway Business Improvement Area, as a natural border, and
- is the border for all 18 neighbourhood community leagues in Edmonton that run along the highway.
Furthermore, Mr. Boissonnault asserted that the neighbourhoods north and south of the Yellowhead Highway have separate histories within the city, as they were developed at different times.
The Standing Committee made no recommendation one way or the other with respect to this objection.
After much deliberation, the Commission has concluded that acceding to the Honourable Randy Boissonnault's request would require making significant changes to neighbouring electoral districts. The Commission is not prepared to do this. The Commission heard many presentations in its hearings in Edmonton and did its best to accommodate what was reasonable and made sense. The Commission sees no basis to change the boundaries of Edmonton Centre from what is contained in its Report.
This objection is dismissed.
2. Calgary McKnight
George Chahal, the Member for Calgary Skyview, objected to the configuration of the northeast portion of the new electoral district of Calgary McKnight. In the Report, for that electoral district, 96 Avenue N.E. (also called Airport Trail) is utilized as the northern boundary in the electoral district's northeast, as well as 80 Avenue N.E. (which is located to the south of 96 Ave. N.E.). The boundary that the Commission has established to link 96 Ave. N.E. to 80 Ave. N.E. is a walking and cycling pathway that lies between backyards of residential housing. Mr. Chahal Disposition of Objections Relating to Electoral Boundaries 71 objected to this configuration, proposing instead that the neighbourhoods south of 96 Ave. N.E. be placed in Calgary McKnightfootnote 3.
He stated that the Commission's configuration for the northeast portion of Calgary McKnight did not give full consideration to the community of interest and sense of belonging of the residents of Saddle Ridge/Savanna. According to Mr. Chahal, Saddle Ridge is one community that shares the same community association, recreation centre, schools, and places of worship. He noted that two provincial electoral districts are divided by 96 Ave. N.E.
Furthermore, he indicated that he believed this configuration would result in lower voter participation and engagement in Saddle Ridge/Savanna, and that voter turnout there was traditionally lower than in other major urban areas. He also noted that all entry points into the southeastern part of Saddle Ridge must be through Calgary McKnight.
He indicated that the unique character of the communities east of the Deerfoot Trail was acknowledged during the public hearings by local municipal representatives.
Mr. Chahal noted that his proposal would increase the population of Calgary McKnight by 8,530 and result in an electoral district of 131,678 people, making it the largest electoral district in Alberta, as its variance would be 14.3% above the province's electoral quota. However, he stated that, in this case, it was necessary and desirable to deviate from population parity. Furthermore, he claimed that the revised electoral district of Calgary Skyview would, over the next decade, experience population growth that would make it the most populous electoral district in Alberta.
The Standing Committee supported Mr. Chahal's objection and recommended that the Commission consider it favourably.
As noted in its Report, the Commission had received numerous representations from community representatives and organizations urging it to keep the northeast section of Calgary together within two electoral districts, Calgary Skyview and the renamed Calgary East, which consist of closely connected communities with shared interests and priorities. Also as noted, some presenters argued that the Commission should base the electoral districts on the City of Calgary municipal wards, of which there are 14. However, the Commission has only 11 electoral districts with which to work, making some compromise inevitable. It should also be pointed out that provincially the City of Calgary has 26 electoral districts.
Mr. Chahal suggested that the northern boundary of Calgary McKnight should include all homes south of 96 Avenue N.E. If Mr. Chahal's proposed changes were to be made, the population of Calgary McKnight would be approximately 131,622 (14.25% above the provincial electoral quota) and for Calgary Skyview the population would be approximately 106,784 (7.31% below the provincial electoral quota).
The Commission has done its utmost to keep the population of each Alberta electoral district within a variance of plus or minus 10% of the provincial electoral quota. The Commission sees no reason to depart from this and does not accede to Mr. Chahal's objection.
This objection is dismissed.
Gerald Soroka, the Member for Yellowhead, objected to the drawing of an eastern portion of the electoral district of Jasper—Banff—Canmore.
In its Proposal, the Commission had proposed to retain the electoral district name of Yellowhead and it placed all of Yellowhead County in that proposed electoral district. Mr. Soroka supported this proposed name and boundary configuration and indicated that they also had the support of the mayor and residents of Yellowhead County. However, in the Report, the Commission substantially changed the configuration of the proposed electoral districts in this area. It created an electoral district to the west of the City of Edmonton, called Parkland, and placed the eastern part of Yellowhead County in the electoral district of Parkland, while placing the western part of Yellowhead County in the electoral district of Jasper—Banff—Canmore.
Mr. Soroka did not believe that the Commission had taken into account communities of interest in proposing the configuration for Jasper—Banff—Canmore. He argued that placed within this single electoral district were the disparate interests of Calgary residents, coal mining, forestry, oil and gas industries, and national parks that focus on tourism.
In order to keep the whole of Yellowhead County within the single electoral district of Jasper— Banff—Canmore, Mr. Soroka proposed several changes to the nearby electoral districts to balance out the population deviations. These were as follows:
- Regarding the Report's electoral district of Parkland: remove Yellowhead County from Parkland and place it in Jasper—Banff—Canmore. Add to Parkland a larger portion of Lac Ste. Anne County from the electoral district of St. Albert—Sturgeon River. Mr. Soroka indicated that the Report contains confusing boundaries and that his proposal provides easier boundaries to follow. This would result in a population for Parkland of 115,124, versus 114,679 in the Report.
- Regarding the Report's electoral district of St. Albert—Sturgeon River: remove from St. Albert—Sturgeon River the communities he specifies in Lac Ste. Anne County and add them to Parkland. This would result in a population for St. Albert—Sturgeon River of 114,787, versus 121,306 in the Report.
- Regarding the Report's electoral district of Battle River—Crowfoot: add to Battle River— Crowfoot a portion of Mountain View County located south of the boundary of the electoral district of Ponoka—Didsbury and east of Highway 766. This would result in a population for Battle River—Crowfoot of 116,567, versus 110,212 the Reportfootnote 4.
- Regarding the Report's electoral district of Bow River: add a specified portion of Rocky View County located south of Mountain View County and east of Highway 2. This would result in a population for Bow River of 112,905, compared to 112,763 in the Report.
Mr. Soroka added that he was providing the Committee with letters written by several mayors from the area, in support of his objection.
The Standing Committee supported Mr. Soroka's objection and recommended that the Commission consider it favourably.
As indicated in its Report, the Commission received considerable criticism of its decision in the Proposal to separate Banff and Canmore. It was made abundantly clear to the Commission that these two communities are highly interconnected.
The Commission also heard presentations (including from the Mayor of Jasper) that Jasper should be contained within the same electoral district as Banff and Canmore. The Commission heard other presentations stressing the community of interest and community of identity among Jasper, Banff, Canmore and the Bow Valley, all of which are primarily mountainous and recreational tourist areas.
With respect to the contention that the electoral district of Jasper—Banff—Canmore places the disparate interests of Calgary residents and coal mining, forestry, and oil and gas industries within the same electoral district that focuses on tourism, the Commission reiterates that no portion of Jasper—Banff—Canmore is located within the Calgary city limits. The Commission does recognize that Jasper—Banff—Canmore contains a range of economic interests over and beyond tourism. However, electoral districts often contain more than one economic base and can still function effectively.
The Commission acknowledges the detailed suggestions for change advocated by Mr. Soroka, noting that it requires making significant changes to neighbouring electoral districts. This the Commission is not prepared to do.
Accordingly, the Commission sees no reason to change the boundaries of the Jasper—Banff— Canmore electoral district.
This objection is dismissed.
4. Peace River—Westlock
Arnold Viersen, the Member for Peace River—Westlock, objected to the configuration in the Report of the northwest portion of the electoral district of Peace River—Westlock. In the Commission's initial Proposal, the northwest portion of the boundary for Peace River—Westlock extended west to meet the provincial border with British Columbia. However, in the Report, the northwest portion of this boundary extends due north to the border with the Northwest Territories.
It is worth noting that Chris Warkentin, the Member for Grande Prairie—Mackenzie, filed the identical objection with the Clerk of the Committee.
Both Mr. Viersen and Mr. Warkentin proposed the same two changes to the western boundary of Peace River—Westlock and the eastern boundary of Grande Prairie, for the Commission to consider:
- Place Mackenzie County in its entirety within the electoral district of Peace River— Westlock. This would reunite the county within the same federal electoral district. Furthermore, a stronger community of interest exists between the Town of High Level and the Town of Peace River than between High Level and the City of Grande Prairie. Mr. Viersen noted that this boundary configuration was suggested in the Commission's initial Proposal, and
- For Grande Prairie and its near communities, revert to the boundary configuration that exists currently between the electoral districts of Peace River—Westlock and Grande Prairie—Mackenzie. Mr. Viersen noted that the Commission was proposing to transfer communities that have a community of interest with Grande Prairie out of the electoral district of Grande Prairie and into the electoral district of Peace River—Westlock.
Mr. Viersen stated that residents in Peace River—Westlock were largely content with the Commission's initial Proposal and, as such, did not voice any objections to it. However, they objected to the Report, and had no forum to voice their concerns except to the Standing Committee, through him as their representative.
Mr. Viersen stated that residents of northwest Alberta have close community ties with the towns and geographic areas in which they live. He noted that Grande Prairie, Peace River and High Level all were distinct communities of interest. He also noted that the electoral district configuration for Peace River—Westlock could create confusion among residents about where they vote in federal elections.
The Standing Committee supported Mr. Viersen's objection and recommended that the Commission consider it favourably.
Unlike the situation with respect to the electoral district of Grande Prairie, the Commission did hear presentations from individuals regarding its proposed boundaries for the Peace River— Westlock electoral district. The major complaint focused on the size of the proposed electoral district, which is 160,201 km2 in areafootnote 5. There were also complaints that this size made it difficult for the local MP to visit many of the northern outlying areas.
The undeniable reality is that, given Alberta's vast size, it is inevitable that there will be some large geographical electoral districts, notwithstanding the best efforts of this Commission. In this regard, it must be emphasized that the Commission was working with 37 proposed electoral districts (up from the current 34); by contrast, there are 87 provincial electoral districts.
However, the Commission has also noted the representations asserting that it is important that Highway 58 and Mackenzie County be reunited within a single electoral district. This was what had been proposed in the Proposal but was altered in the Report.
The Commission notes that, in its Proposal, it had used Highway 33 to delineate a small portion of the southern boundary of Peace River—Westlock that abutted the electoral district of Sturgeon River. In its Report, the Commission had altered that area slightly; so, rather than following Highway 33, the electoral district boundary followed the county boundary. The Commission has decided to retain the boundary in this area, between the electoral districts of Peace River—Westlock and St. Albert—Sturgeon River as set in the Report, as it respects the rural municipalities.
This objection is allowed in large measure. The Commission sets the boundaries for the Peace River—Westlock electoral district as they were proposed in its Proposal but alters them as noted in the preceding paragraph.
5. Grande Prairie—Mackenzie
Chris Warkentin, the Member for Grande Prairie—Mackenzie, filed a written objection that was identical to the one filed by Mr. Viersen. As such, he proposed the same two changes as Mr. Viersen to the proposed eastern boundary of the electoral district of Grande Prairie and the western boundary of the Peace River—Westlock electoral district.
Mr. Warkentin indicated that he and Mr. Viersen were in agreement that Mackenzie County should remain intact within a single federal electoral district.
Mr. Warkentin noted that, in the Report, Highway 58 (a major east-west thoroughfare) was split between the two different electoral districts of Grande Prairie and Peace River—Westlock. He stated that Highway 58 is a connective roadway for First Nations communities who live in that region, and that several small First Nations communities live along itfootnote 6. In his view, Highway 58 should be placed within a single federal electoral district.
In addition, he noted that a member of Parliament needed to drive north about five hours to participate in the large community meetings held near Highway 58, and that it made more sense for a single member of Parliament to represent the residents of that area, rather than two members. He noted that provincially, the region was represented by a single member of the Legislative Assembly, as was the case with the local municipal government.
Mr. Warkentin also indicated that, in the Report, Sturgeon Lake, Crooked Creek and Goodwin were shifted from the proposed electoral district of Grande Prairie and into Peace River— Westlock. He stated that, under the Report, those communities would be separated from Grande Prairie, where they conduct their business. He stated that those three communities have close ties with Grande Prairie, as this is where they work and go to school.
The Standing Committee supported Mr. Warkentin's objection and recommended that the Commission consider it favourably.
The remarks of Chris Warkentin, the Member for Grande Prairie—Mackenzie and Arnold Viersen, the Member for Peace River—Westlock were complementary. Both indicated that the Commission's Proposal was generally well received but that the reconfigurations of those two electoral districts contained in its Report were not. As noted in its Report, the Commission received no submissions nor heard any oral presentations with respect to its proposed electoral district of Grande Prairie. This certainly underscores Mr. Warkentin's contention that, generally speaking, the Proposal was well received.
We note the comments regarding the fact that several First Nations communities live along Highway 58 and are connected by that highway. Under the Proposal, Highway 58 was contained completely within the proposed electoral district of Peace River—Westlock.
We also take cognizance of Mr. Warkentin's remarks that the communities of Crooked Creek and Goodwin are now separated from the Grande Prairie electoral district and have been moved to the electoral district Peace River—Westlock and are therefore separated from the people they usually conduct business with in Grande Prairie.
Upon further reflection, the Commission agrees with the comments made by Mr. Warkentin and therefore sets the boundaries for the electoral district of Grande Prairie as they were proposed in its Proposal.
This objection is allowed and the Commission sets the boundaries of the Grande Prairie electoral district as it had been proposed in its Proposal.
Back to note 1 In Mr. Boissonnault's objection, he objected to the placement of the central portion of the northern boundary of the revised electoral district of Edmonton Centre. The Standing Committee in its Fortieth Report, however, erroneously referred to "the eastern portion of the northern boundary."
Back to note 2 In Mr. Boissonnault's objection, he mentioned moving Parkview and Laurier Heights back to Edmonton Centre, but he did not identify the electoral district that those neighbourhoods were located in. The Standing Committee in its Fortieth Report erroneously referred to Edmonton Griesbach as being that electoral district when in fact both neighbourhoods are located in Edmonton West.
Back to note 3 Mr. Chahal was always very clear that he wanted the communities south of 96 Avenue N.E. to remain together and not to be split. Mention of neighbourhoods north of 96 Avenue N.E. being split by a walking path is a mistake made by the Standing Committee in its Fortieth Report.
Back to note 4 As pointed out in the Dissenting Report, Mr. Soroka never proposed that any portion of the electoral district of Ponoka—Didsbury be added to Battle River—Crowfoot. The Standing Committee in its Fortieth Report erroneously stated that Mr. Soroka proposed to "add a specified portion of Mountain View County to Battle River—Crowfoot and remove it from the electoral district Ponoka—Didsbury."
Back to note 5 The land-area figures mentioned here and elsewhere in the Report are preliminary calculations and will be reviewed and certified after the proclamation of the Representation Order.
Back to note 6 Mr. Warkentin at no time claimed that there were dozens of First Nations communities who live along Highway 58. He stated that there were many First Nations communities who live along Highway 58. The former was erroneously stated by the Standing Committee in its Fortieth Report.