Federal electoral districts redistribution 2022

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Maureen Beecroft

I would hope that you would reconsider the redrawing of our electoral district. St Thomas should not be separated from the rest of Elgin County. It is the centre of a county with strong roots from east to west. While some people in St Thomas do work in London, a great majority of our new home buyers have moved here to escape the problems that occur in London and to attend our excellent schools. People in the east and west of Elgin travel the short distance to St Thomas to use our wonderful hospital, to bank, shop, work, worship and attend cultural and sports events. Many children from East and West Elgin attend the French Immersion schools in St Thomas and Central Elgin. They do not travel to Ridgetown, Warwick, or Strathroy. Many people do not even go to London unless forced by circumstances beyond their control. A huge majority of these people would never think to drive to Strathroy, Ridgetown or any other places in the redrawn map. I will guarantee if you ask someone from East Elgin to tell you where they could find Warwick, they would reply that they had never heard of it. I speak from personal experience, as my family did not know of the place till 2000 and we have lived in the area since the 1800's. If they will never travel there, if they have never heard of the place, why would they vote for anyone from those areas?

A candidate from Middlesex, Lambton or Chatham Kent would know very little or nothing about the needs of a farmer in Bayham, a fisherman in Port Stanley or a senior unable to access care in Tyrconnell. St Thomas and Elgin County have historically, and geographically been tied since the 1700's. They should stay together. We have nothing in common with London, Middlesex, Kent or Lambton.

Just because statistics show that a certain area has a lower population, and is a rural area, does not mean that there any other similarities. Farmers in Bayham are not the same as those in Warwick, Strathroy, Ridgetown or any where else. All farmers and rural people do not have the same problems, the same needs, the same values or outlook. People residing in St Thomas do not have the same needs as those in south London. We are a small city, we do not have the same outlook or opinions as people who live in London, and we do not want to be part of London. Many of our seniors have rural backgrounds, how is a person from a larger city going to know what we need?

Our last provincial election had a very small turn out, mostly because the people in St Thomas Elgin did not recognize the person who was ultimately elected. None of the candidates could campaign properly because they did not know the riding as it sits now, changing it will make things worse. Our present MPP does not represent the majority of the people in St Thomas Elgin because he comes from Middlesex County, an area that is not local to us. He does not know our area, because he has never lived here. We need to be able to vote for someone local, not someone who lives an hour or two away from us. If this map is adopted as presented you will find that voting drops dramatically and then the type of people representing us in Toronto will suffer as well. Constituents will not be adequately represented, and areas will not receive proper attention and care because of their size.

It appears this new map was drawn by someone with an urban background, only looking at population statistics and not at what is best for people. I would ask that these people start driving across the new riding from East Elgin, around St Thomas, west to Ridgetown, north to Warwick and then east to London. How long will it take? Can a candidate, or an MPP drive this in a day and stop to talk to constituents? How do the farm and small villages change? What type of economy is present in each area?

The public input for this major change is woefully inadequate. Many people cannot join an online meeting because of lack of proper internet access. Did you know that many areas of West Elgin still rely on dial up internet? Did you know that many people do not have access to internet at all in St Thomas and Elgin? How can these people let their opinions be know? How can others email you if they do not have access? Our only in person meeting is in London, at a place we have never heard of? How do we get there? Perhaps these questions should have been considered before a new map was proposed.

This new rising map is a huge mistake. Please redraw it with St Thomas again part of Elgin County where it belongs, and let the people of London vote in their own city. I am sure they do not want to be linked with St Thomas either.

Maureen Beecroft

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