Federal electoral districts redistribution 2022

Part l: Introduction and Overview

After each decennial census, an independent electoral boundaries commission is established for each province. Its task is to revise or, more properly stated, to readjust the boundaries of the federal electoral districts (sometimes called ridings) to reflect changes and movements in the province's population. The Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. E-3 ("the Act") sets out the procedure for the review.

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for New Brunswick ("the Commission") was established on November 1, 2021. The Chair of the Commission, appointed by the Chief Justice of New Brunswick, is Madam Justice Lucie A. LaVigne, of the Court of Appeal of New Brunswick. The other members of the Commission, appointed by the Speaker of the House of Commons, are Dr. Conde Grondin, a retired professor of political science from the University of New Brunswick, and the Honourable Thomas Riordon, a retired justice of the Court of Queen's Bench of New Brunswick and Deputy Chair of the Commission. Mr. Riordon served as a member of the previous Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for the Province of New Brunswick in 2012–2013, while Dr. Grondin was a member of the 2012 Provincial Electoral Boundaries and Representation Commission for New Brunswick.

The Commission must propose a new electoral map for the Province of New Brunswick; consult with New Brunswickers through public hearings and review written submissions; submit a report on its considerations and propose an electoral map to the House of Commons; consider objections from members of the House of Commons; and prepare a final report outlining the electoral boundaries for the province.

The Commission will consider the input received from the public and from members of the House of Commons when determining the boundaries. However, as an independent body, the Commission makes all final decisions as to where these boundaries will lie.

The Starting Point ─ The 2021 Census

The 2021 Census established the total population for the province at 775,610. New Brunswick's representation in the House of Commons is 10 members and the province is accordingly divided into 10 electoral districts. The population of the province divided by 10 gives a provincial electoral quota of 77,561 residents per electoral district. From 2011 to 2021, the population of the province increased from 751,171 to 775,610, which is an increase of 24,439 or 3.25%. Some areas of the province grew faster than others, with Moncton and Dieppe being the province's fastest-growing cities, showing increases of 10.5% and 10.8% respectively.

Table 1 below shows the current electoral districts with their population counts from the 2021 Census and displays their current variances from the provincial electoral quota of 77,561 if no adjustments were to be made to their electoral boundaries.

Table 1 – Populations and Variances for Current Electoral Districts Electoral Quota of 77,561
Federal Electoral District Population 2021 Variance(%)
Acadie—Bathurst 77,594 0.04
Beauséjour 88,797 14.49
Fredericton 87,436 12.73
Fundy Royal 83,721 7.94
Madawaska—Restigouche 60,184 -22.40
Miramichi—Grand Lake 57,520 -25.84
Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe 101,237 30.53
New Brunswick Southwest 67,781 -12.61
Saint John—Rothesay 81,996 5.72
Tobique—Mactaquac 69,344 -10.59

Voter Parity and Effective Representation

Section 15 of the Act directs that the population of each electoral district shall correspond as closely as reasonably possible to the electoral quota. The Act, however, also requires the Commission to consider several other factors and permits the Commission to depart from the quota in any case where it considers it necessary or desirable:

  1. in order to respect the community of interest or community of identity in or the historical pattern of an electoral district in the province, or
  2. in order to maintain a manageable geographic size for districts in sparsely populated, rural or northern regions of the province.

When considering these factors, the Commission must make every effort to ensure that, except in circumstances it views as extraordinary, the population of each electoral district in the province remain within ±25% of the electoral quota.

In conjunction with the provisions of the Act, the Commission's decisions must be guided by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees Canadian citizens the right to vote in federal and provincial elections. In Reference re Provincial Electoral Boundaries (Sask.) [1991] 2 S.C.R. 158 ("Carter"), the Supreme Court of Canada held that the purpose of the right to vote, as guaranteed by section 3 of the Charter, "is not equality of voting power but the right to 'effective representation'" (p. 182). At issue was a Saskatchewan provincial electoral map that displayed large deviations from representation by population to the benefit of rural voters and at the expense of urban ones. Effective representation was understood by the Court to entail voter parity as the primary concern, but to permit deviations for reasons such as "geography, community history, community interests and minority representation," in order to "effectively represent the diversity of our social mosaic" (p. 184).

Each of these factors can, like the size of the population in the riding, have an impact on the ability of a member of Parliament to effectively represent the people he or she was elected to represent. Departures from voter parity are permitted where they can be justified as contributing to better government of the populace as a whole. The concept of effective representation is a key consideration for the proper operation of Canadian democracy.

The Commission, being a federal institution, has certain duties pertaining to the Government of Canada's commitment to promote the development and vitality of the English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada. Therefore, the Commission must take into account the impact of its decisions on the official-language minority community; in New Brunswick, this refers to the French-language community. There is a strong Francophone and Acadian presence in the Province of New Brunswick; effective representation for this linguistic minority is an important goal, especially in New Brunswick, Canada's only officially bilingual province.

The Commission has endeavoured to achieve the effective representation of New Brunswickers in Parliament. The sparsely populated northern regions of the province, the topography of certain ridings and New Brunswick's linguistic profile presented a few challenges in the configuration of appropriate electoral districts.

Public Participation

The Commission invited the public to participate in the creation of its initial redistribution proposal by providing their written suggestions or comments. We received several submissions and refer to some of them in the following two paragraphs and in Part II of this document. The Commission wishes to thank everyone who provided comments for our review and consideration during this advance public consultation process. These comments identified many issues that we discussed and considered. Some were in direct contradiction to each other. The Commission could not accommodate the wishes of all. However, many of the suggestions were incorporated in this redistribution proposal, some in their entirety, others in part.

We received a brief from the Société de l'Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick. It summarized its view of the applicable principles as well as the Commission's obligations and duties according to the Act, the Charter and the jurisprudence. It noted that New Brunswick presently has three predominantly French-speaking electoral districts (Acadie—Bathurst, Beauséjour and Madawaska—Restigouche), one bilingual district (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe) and six mainly English-speaking districts (Fredericton, Fundy Royal, Miramichi—Grand Lake, New Brunswick Southwest, Saint John—Rothesay and Tobique—Mactaquac), and expressed the hope that this will also be the case at the end of this redistribution process. The Commission is of the view that its redistribution proposal maintains the status quo concerning the linguistic profile of the electoral districts.

Local governance reform is now underway in New Brunswick. However, the new local government boundaries are not expected to come into effect before January 1, 2023. Therefore, as indicated in the Appendix, when describing the electoral districts, "wherever a word or expression is used to denote a territorial division, such word or expression shall indicate the territorial division as it existed or was bounded on the first day of January 2021, unless otherwise stated." We have made only one departure from the general rule. At the request of the City of Fredericton, when drawing the proposed electoral district of Fredericton—Oromocto, we have included in that riding all of the territory that is expected to be included within the limits of the City of Fredericton after the completion of the local governance reform process. The Commission reserves the right to readjust territorial divisions to take into account some or all of the local governance reform, should we conclude that there is a need to do so before submitting our final report.

The Initial Redistribution Proposal

As shown in Table 1, the current electoral district of Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe exceeds the electoral quota by 30.53%, while Miramichi—Grand Lake falls short of it by 25.84%. The Commission is of the view that there are no extraordinary circumstances that would justify allowing any electoral district in New Brunswick to deviate by more than 25% or less than 25% of the electoral quota. In view of the above, it is obvious that changes to the electoral map of the province are required.

The Commission agrees that change should not be made just for change's sake. Therefore, we set out to make the adjustments with a minimum of disturbance to the current boundaries, while at the same time considering the principles set out in section 15 of the Act, the Charter and the jurisprudence. However, when one adjusts the boundary or boundaries of one electoral district, it necessitates the adjustment of adjoining ridings, which can have a domino effect on other ridings. In the proposal, all electoral districts in New Brunswick have been altered—some more substantially than others—to better promote relative voter parity while maintaining effective representation.

As part of its mandate, the Commission reviewed the names of all 10 electoral districts. Because of the proposed changes to the boundaries, the Commission considers it appropriate to make changes to the names of five of the proposed districts, to better describe their geographic locations. The names of electoral districts in New Brunswick have usually reflected geographic features and historically significant place names. Names such as Madawaska—Restigouche and Tobique—Mactaquac have tremendous historical and cultural significance to the people of those ridings, and therefore we are not suggesting any name change notwithstanding the proposed changes to the boundaries of these districts.

After careful review, the Commission proposes maps and boundaries that reflect the names and population numbers found in Table 2 below.

Table 2 – Populations and Variances for Proposed Electoral Districts Electoral Quota of 77,561
Federal Electoral District Population 2021 Variance(%)
Acadie—Bathurst 79,581 2.60
Beauséjour 88,490 14.09
Fredericton—Oromocto 85,540 10.29
Fundy Royal—Riverview 74,261 -4.25
Madawaska—Restigouche 71,099 -8.33
Miramichi—Grand Lake 59,725 -23.00
Moncton—Dieppe 91,333 17.76
Saint John—Kennebecasis 81,954 5.66
Saint John—St. Croix 78,963 1.81
Tobique—Mactaquac 64,664 -16.63

Two of the current electoral districts were beyond the allowable variance of ±25% and another was very close. With its proposal, the Commission effects a redistribution that brings most of the electoral districts closer to the provincial electoral quota and improves relative voter parity, in the sense that no riding is now outside the 25% limit and most of the ridings have a 10.29% variance or less. The Commission is satisfied that effective representation can occur within the proposed boundaries.

Although Part I of this document gives the general reasons for our proposed redistribution plan, Part II provides narrative descriptions of all proposed electoral districts, an overview of the changes proposed for each electoral district and additional reasons for these specific changes.

The Act calls for public hearings so that the Commission can hear representations from interested persons concerning its proposed redistribution plan before submitting its final report to the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. The times and places of these public hearings are set out in Part III of this document. The Commission has adopted rules for the conduct of the public hearings and the making of representations. These rules are set out in Parts IV and V. The Appendix contains legal descriptions and maps of the proposed electoral districts.

We look forward to hearing from interested parties, either in person during our public hearings or in writing. The Commission recognizes that matters such as community of interest or identity, historical patterns and manageable geographic size are open to differing interpretations as they apply generally or to particular electoral districts. We welcome submissions on these matters.

Simultaneous translation will be available in both official languages at all public hearings.