Results of Deliberations Following Public Consultation – Manitoba
Among all Manitoba's 14 constituencies, the constituency of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski has posed the greatest challenge to successive boundaries commissions: to balance the primary principle of voter parity with the need to support effective representation.
Our initial proposal was aimed at bringing the population variance down to 7.02% below the average by adding territory and population to Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, mostly from the riding of Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa.
The Commission heard many concerns about our initial proposal from MPs, rural municipalities, municipalities and towns from the ridings of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa and Brandon—Souris.
After hearing and reading all the presentations, we were convinced to remove the majority of the territory that we had added to Churchill—Keewatinook Aski. We are aware that the resulting population variation will be in the range of 15%, well above our stated guideline of plus or minus 5%. However, we believe the variation is justified, for the following reasons.
The constituency of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski is one of the largest in the country in terms of territorial expanse. As presently configured, it covers 515,467 square kilometres, or just under 80% of the total land mass of the province. Pursuant to our current proposal, it will cover approximately 515,087 square kilometres. In her oral presentation to the Commission, the MP for Churchill—Keewatinook Aski described how this vast expanse presents her with transportation and communications challenges for being in touch with citizens and communities in all parts of the constituency. There is also the added challenge of the extra time required to commute to Ottawa, with fewer flight options.
The Commission notes that there is a wide range of communities to be contacted, serviced and represented. There are concentrations of population in four urban centres, numerous towns and villages situated within rural municipalities and many small, remote communities. Fifteen communities are accessible by automobile, for only part of the year, by winter ice roads.
While in our initial proposal we alluded to the ongoing communications revolution, involving the use of the Internet, satellites and cell phones, we acknowledge that such services are often not available in the north or are of poor quality.
All the above challenges affect the constituents' right to effective representation, including their ability to have a voice in the deliberations of government and their right to bring their grievances and concerns to their MP. To exercise these rights, they must be able to access their MP.
In terms of keeping communities together, the Commission notes that there are 22 First Nations communities in Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, most of which fall under Treaties 4, 5, 6 and 10 and belong to Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak. Taking into consideration voter parity, population average and the size of the community to be served, the Commission also notes that, for a number of reasons, the census process has resulted in a significant population undercount for some of these communities. See https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2021/ref/iers-repd-eng.cfm.
A number of other MPs recognized the challenges faced in effectively representing the electoral district of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski and supported the recommendation that we not add further territory to it.
In addition, several presenters submitted that the territory that we proposed to be transferred from the Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa constituency did not match the geography, economy, trading or communications patterns of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski and would, therefore, not respect the principle of community of interest.
The Commission was generally aware of these fundamental features of the Churchill—Keewatinook Aski constituency, but the detailed input that we received brought them into higher, clearer relief.
In determining that we would substantially retain the current boundaries, the Commission has decided not to accept the recommendation of a presenter that we invoke the "exceptional circumstances" clause found in subsection 15(2)(b) of the Act to make Churchill—Keewatinook Aski a special case, allowing for a variation above 25% of the provincial average. After hearing from the current MP, in detail, about how she and her staff represent and provide service to this admittedly large and diverse constituency, we are not convinced that the existing circumstances are extraordinary as provided for in the Act.
For the above reasons, we decided to, for the most part, leave the existing boundaries of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski intact. While this puts us over our guideline, the population variation of roughly 15% is well below the plus-or-minus 25% variance from the electoral quota of the province allowed for in subsection 15(2)(b) of the Act. In our view, allowing the variation of 15% represents a realistic compromise, one that balances the principles of reasonable voter parity with the need to support effective representation.
At the request of local representatives, we made a minor change to the riding of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski. We moved the communities of Homebrook and Peonan Point back to the electoral district of Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman.
As well, under the existing boundaries, the territory of the Little Saskatchewan No. 48 reserve is divided: a portion of it is in the electoral district of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, and a portion is in Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman. In observance of our goal of keeping communities together, we have moved the area of the entire reserve to Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman.
In light of our decision to substantially maintain the existing boundaries of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski, we were able to give effect to the submissions made by MPs, individuals and communities from the riding of Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa and move the area we had proposed to relocate to Churchill—Keewatinook Aski back to Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa.
The above relocation further allowed the Commission to reunite the town of Virden, the western half of the Rural Municipality of Wallace-Woodworth and the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, a First Nation reserve, with the riding of Brandon—Souris, in accordance with a number of presentations and submissions that we had received.
We heard from numerous presenters and received many written submissions, requesting that we reconsider our decision to add the Rural Municipalities of St. François Xavier and Cartier and part of the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie to the Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley riding. Based on those submissions, we have decided to remove that territory from our proposal and have reunited these rural municipalities with Portage—Lisgar.
We accepted suggestions that the Rural Municipality of Rosser be moved to Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley to increase the population of that riding. In his presentation, the MP from Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman indicated that he had discussed this move with the MPs from Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley and Portage—Lisgar and that each had accepted it.
The movement of the Rural Municipality of Rosser to Winnipeg allowed us to address the concerns raised about our initial proposal to move the Rural Municipality of Woodlands to Portage—Lisgar. We were convinced that the Rural Municipality of Woodlands shares much in common, including important flooding concerns, with the communities in the Interlake region. Thus, we removed the Rural Municipality of Woodlands from Portage—Lisgar and returned it to the riding of Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman.
We accepted the submission that there was a close relationship between the Rural Municipality of Whitemouth and the Whiteshell region. We heard that the relationship was so close, in fact, that if we were to move the Rural Municipality of Whitemouth to Selkirk—Interlake—Eastman, we should migrate the Whiteshell region there as well. The Commission is of the opinion that it is in the best interest of these two areas to remain together, and, thus, we have moved the Rural Municipality of Whitemouth back into Provencher.
We also received a number of submissions concerning our initial proposal to move the Rural Municipalities of De Salaberry and Montcalm to Portage—Lisgar. There was concern that these French-language communities should remain in their historical riding of Provencher, along with the other designated bilingual communities in the riding. In consideration of our guideline to maintain the integrity of these communities, we have been persuaded to return these rural municipalities to the electoral district of Provencher.
However, the removal of these rural municipalities from the riding of Portage—Lisgar left the population variance in Provencher too high. To balance the population shift, we moved part of the Rural Municipality of Springfield from Provencher to the electoral district of Kildonan—St. Paul. This area includes the communities of Oakbank, Pine Ridge and West Pine Ridge.
We also added territory to the riding of Elmwood—Transcona, including the community of Dugald, in order to balance it with the population of the electoral district of Provencher.
In making the above revisions, we were cognizant of the concerns raised about the inclusion of part of the Rural Municipality of Springfield in Elmwood—Transcona. However, we were also aware of the position that if the size of Provencher had to be adjusted, it would be preferable to reassign some territory from the Rural Municipality of Springfield as the residents in that area have social, familial and economic connections with the neighborhoods in that area. Our compromise was to add the territory around and including the community of Dugald, which is close to and has links with Transcona.
In the end, the driving force behind the Commission's decision to transfer territory from Provencher to Kildonan—St. Paul and Elmwood—Transcona was our desire to keep the designated bilingual communities united with the other designated bilingual communities in their historical riding of Provencher, while maintaining reasonable voter parity. This driving force also led us to re-examine the designated bilingual communities within Portage—Lisgar, specifically the Rural Municipality of Lorne, which had been moved to Brandon—Souris. As it was our goal to keep these designated bilingual communities together, we reunited the Rural Municipality of Lorne with Portage—Lisgar.
While we did not accept the submissions opposing the transfer of portions of the Rural Municipality of Springfield to Elmwood—Transcona, we did accept other submissions from that constituency. For example, we accepted the submission that Harbour View South be reunited with Elmwood—Transcona and returned it to that riding from the riding of Kildonan—St. Paul.
We also received a number of submissions opposing our proposed move of the St. Boniface Industrial Park and the area known as "East Mint" to the Elmwood—Transcona electoral district. We were persuaded to return those two areas to St. Boniface—St. Vital, and we did so.
Finally, in our proposal we had moved a portion of the community of Bridgewater to Winnipeg South Centre. Compelling presentations were made that persuaded us to keep the community together, and we decided to undo the move and reunite that portion of Bridgewater with the Winnipeg South riding.
After careful consideration, the Commission is of the view that the names of two ridings should be changed. In renaming these ridings, we considered geographical features, the history of each riding and the communities of interest represented in them.
In our initial proposal, the Commission proposed to rename the riding of Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley to Winnipeg West. We had a number of submissions supporting such a change, although there were some dissenters, who were concerned that the proposed name did not accurately reflect the heritage of the area.
While the new electoral district will now include the Rural Municipality of Rosser, and not the Rural Municipalities of St. François Xavier and Cartier or a small portion of the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie, as initially proposed, we decided to maintain the name Winnipeg West.
Given the addition of the Rural Municipality of Rosser, the current name will no longer accurately reflect the composition of the redrawn electoral district. Moreover, the addition of any further community descriptors to recognize the additional communities in the proposed redistricting would not be advisable. For practical reasons, riding names must be clear and concise to allow for ease of use in a variety of settings, such as Parliament, the media, maps and print. The Commission again notes that the name Winnipeg West is consistent with the names of other electoral divisions in the Winnipeg area, such as Winnipeg South. It is clear, concise and practical.
The Commission also decided to rename the electoral district of Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa to Riding Mountain. We received two written submissions suggesting this, and the MP for that riding also spoke in favour of such a name change. The MP submitted that Riding Mountain National Park is unique to Canada, situated precisely in the centre of the riding and surrounded entirely by people and communities. He stated that constituents from the entire riding access the park from different locations and for different reasons. He submitted that the name Riding Mountain would better represent the hundreds of communities throughout the electoral district. The Commission was convinced by all the submissions made and renamed the riding of Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa to Riding Mountain.
|Riding Name||2021 Population||Variance from Average|
|Winnipeg South Centre||95,882||0.01%|