New rid­ings

Elec­toral bound­aries com­mis­sion re­turns to Kenora for se­cond round of con­sul­ta­tion

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - FRONT PAGE - KATH­LEEN CHARLEBOIS KCharlebois@post­media.com

Con­sul­ta­tions on new elec­to­rial bound­aries held in Kenora.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic got a clearer idea of what the new pro­vin­cial rid­ings might look like and had the op­por­tu­nity to voice their thoughts about it.

The Far North Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion re­turned to Kenora for a se­cond round of pub­lic in­put re­gard­ing the cre­ation of two new elec­toral dis­tricts in north­ern On­tario, held at the Clar­ion Lake­side Inn on Tues­day, July 11.

The pre­lim­i­nary re­port, re­leased on Mon­day, July 10, rec­om­mends the cre­ation of two new rid­ings in the north. The new Kenora-Rainy River district makes up the south­ern por­tion of the current elec­toral district and in­cludes the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Kenora, Dry­den, Fort Frances and Rainy River. The rid­ing en­com­passes a pop­u­la­tion of 53,010, 13 per cent of whom are In­dige­nous.

The rec­om­mended new north­ern rid­ing would be named Ki­i­wetinong and in­clude the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Red Lake and Sioux Look­out, the First Na­tion com­mu­ni­ties of Grassy Nar­rows and Wabaseemoong all the way to Fort Sev­ern on the shores of Hud­son’s Bay. The rid­ing would rep­re­sent 32,784 peo­ple, 60 per cent of whom are In­dige­nous.

The re­port also rec­om­mends cre­at­ing a sep­a­rate rid­ing for the city of Tim­mins and a north­ern rid­ing of Mushkegowuk in the current rid­ing of Tim­mins-James Bay.

Com­mis­sion chair Joyce Pel­letier was joined by Chief Elec­toral Of­fi­cer of On­tario Greg Essensa. Law pro­fes­sor Michael Pal was present over the phone. Pel­letier went over the dif­fer­ent cri­te­ria the com­mis­sion is bound to con­sider when mak­ing their rec­om­men­da­tions for the new rid­ings. Due to the size and scale of the area as well as the iso­la­tion of some com­mu­ni­ties, voter par­ity - “the con­sti­tu­tional prin­ci­pal that in­di­vid­u­als should have votes of roughly equal value” ac­cord­ing to the re­port - would be dif­fi­cult to achieve, she said.

With that in mind, the com­mis­sion made their rec­om­men­da­tions based on en­sur­ing ef­fec­tive representation and mak­ing the rid­ings more ge­o­graph­i­cally man­age­able. Pel­letier said she also heard the need for bet­ter In­dige­nous representation at ev­ery con­sul­ta­tion the com­mis­sion held.

Essensa said there are still the pos­si­bil­ity of changes to the rec­om­men­da­tions, but he’s con­fi­dent that they bal­ance all the re­quired cri­te­ria from the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly and the con­sti­tu­tion.

“I’m quite hope­ful that they adopt these rec­om­men­da­tions,” he said.

The com­mis­sion also held con­sul­ta­tions in Grassy Nar­rows, where Pel­letier said there was a strong de­sire for the com­mu­nity to be in a ma­jor­ity In­dige­nous rid­ing, and the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of Hearst and Tim­mins.

The fi­nal re­port will be sub­mit­ted to the At­tor­ney Gen­eral of On­tario on or be­fore Aug. 1.

KATH­LEEN CHARLEBOIS/ DAILY MINER AND NEWS

Far North Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion Chair Joyce Pel­letier goes over the cri­te­ria that had to be ad­dressed in their rec­om­men­da­tions at the se­cond Kenora con­sul­ta­tion at the Clar­ion Lake­side Inn on Tues­day, July 11. The com­mis­sion's pre­lim­i­nary re­port, re­leased July 10, rec­om­mended that two new rid­ings be cre­ated in the current Kenora-Rainy River and Tim­min­sJames Bay rid­ings.

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