Federal electoral districts redistribution 2022

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Robert MacDougall

September 25, 2022

Ms. Paula Puddy
Commission Secretary
Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario
PO Box 37018 Southdale
London, Ontario N6E 3T3

Dear Ms Puddy and Commission Members,

Thank you for the opportunity to make this submission to the Ontario Electoral Boundary Commission. I am a longtime resident of London, in the electoral district of London West, and vice-president of the London West Riding Association of the Federal New Democratic Party.

I urge the Commission to reconsider the proposed changes to the electoral boundaries in and around the City of London. It seems obvious the proposed changes would be unfair to the people of London, effectively reducing their representation in Parliament. And I do not believe the proposed boundaries meet the obligation of the Commission to respect communities of identity and interest, or the historical patterns of the electoral map.

The proposed map is unfair to the people of London. London is one of the fastest-growing, if not the fastest-growing, cities in Ontario. For at least the last twenty years, London has had three seats in the House of Commons—that is, three electoral districts within or largely within the city limits. Under the new proposal, London's representation would effectively be reduced to two urban electoral districts, with the rest of the city split off into electoral districts that combine urban neighborhoods with large areas of the surrounding rural townships. Although the number of ridings with London at the start of their name would increase from three to four, London's effective representation in Parliament would decline from three distinct urban seats to two. Given London's rapid growth, and the real challenges facing the city—issues like the housing shortage, poverty and homelessness, mental health and addiction support—the proposed changes seem unfair and unwise, a step in the wrong direction.

I think it is also clear to those who know our region that the proposed boundary changes divide and combine clear communities of identity and interest in a number of unfortunate ways. For example: The proposed map adds the community of Lambeth to the riding of London West. While Lambeth has been formally annexed by the City of London, it remains a distinct community, much more associated with Middlesex County and thus the district of Elgin-Middlesex-London, than the city of London itself. A second example: The proposed London South-St. Thomas riding arbitrarily combines two very distinct urban communities, the southern portion of urban London and the City of St. Thomas, along with a large rural area between them, while at the same time separating St. Thomas from Elgin County, with which it has much closer cultural and historical ties. I could list more specific problems with the proposed map, but my larger point is this: Canadians who live in urban and rural communities have distinct interest and identities. Whenever possible, distinctly urban ridings should remain urban ridings and distinctly rural ridings should remain rural ridings. (This is one point, at least, on which urban and rural Canadians can likely agree.)

Thank you for this opportunity to provide feedback to the Commission. I wish you all the best in your complex and delicate deliberations.


Robert MacDougall

Associate Professor, Department of History

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