ELEC­TORAL MAP BE­ING REDRAWN

Winnipeg Free Press - - FRONT PAGE - DAN LETT [email protected]­ress.mb.ca.

The 2018 Manitoba Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion has shaken up Manitoba’s po­lit­i­cal map. It was as if the com­mis­sion took a ham­mer and smashed the elec­toral map, shat­ter­ing the 57 rid­ings and cre­at­ing new con­stituen­cies with new names and dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent bound­aries, writes Dan Lett. The changes take ef­fect for the 2020 elec­tion

THE name “Manitoba Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion” isn’t par­tic­u­larly in­tim­i­dat­ing on its own. In fact, it sounds like a pretty bor­ing en­deav­our.

How­ever, ev­ery 10 years this non-elected group can have a pro­found ef­fect on the fu­ture prospects of po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates and their par­ties.

True to form, the 2018 elec­toral bound­aries com­mis­sion has re­ally shaken up Manitoba’s po­lit­i­cal map.

It was al­most as if the com­mis­sion took a ham­mer and smashed the elec­toral map, shat­ter­ing the

57 rid­ings and cre­at­ing new con­stituen­cies with new names and dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent bound­aries.

The ef­fect on po­lit­i­cal par­ties from bound­ary re­dis­tri­bu­tion of this mag­ni­tude can­not be un­der­stated.

The changes take ef­fect for the

2020 elec­tion.

Not only are elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives forced to make dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions about where to run, but the par­ties and rid­ing as­so­ci­a­tions have to scram­ble to re­con­sti­tute around the new bound­aries. Money raised and held by each rid­ing as­so­ci­a­tion has to be re­dis­tributed, rid­ing ex­ec­u­tives have to be re­formed and elec­tion strate­gies have to be re­drafted.

The big­gest change in this it­er­a­tion of bound­ary re­dis­tri­bu­tion is the ad­di­tion of one seat in Win­nipeg and loss of one seat in ru­ral Manitoba.

How will that dy­namic af­fect the par­ties and can­di­dates in

2020?

The Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives will feel the great­est im­pact from bound­ary re­dis­tri­bu­tion, given that they hold the great­est num­ber of seats in the leg­is­la­ture and be­cause the Tories dom­i­nate ru­ral rid­ings.

Among the Tories most af­fected will be Shan­non Martin, the MLA for Mor­ris, which will no longer ex­ist af­ter the re­dis­tri­bu­tion of elec­toral bound­aries. Pieces of Martin’s rid­ing will be split be­tween three new rid­ings.

A huge tract will go to the new rid­ing of Roblin, which in­cludes most of the ur­ban seat for­merly known as Charleswood, along with a huge tract of ru­ral com­mu­nity di­rectly west of Win­nipeg that was part of the Mor­ris con­stituency. The rest of Martin’s rid­ing is fur­ther split be­tween the newly cre­ated Spring­field­Ritchot and Mid­land.

The prob­lem for Martin — who lives in Lasalle, just north of the town of Mor­ris — is that the con­stituen­cies that will take part of his con­stituency all ap­pear to have Tory in­cum­bents.

Tory Growth and En­ter­prise Min­is­ter Blaine Ped­er­sen ap­pears to be the log­i­cal choice to run in Mid­land. In­fra­struc­ture Min­is­ter Ron Schuler is ex­pected to run in the new rid­ing of Spring­field-Ritchot, al­though there is also a pos­si­bil­ity that he could con­sider the newly formed Red River North, which in­cludes a sec­tion of his cur­rent rid­ing.

The Tories do have open rid­ings — ones that they won in 2016, but that will not have in­cum­bents — which could be op­tions for Martin. The PC party’s de­ci­sions to ex­pel Steven Fletcher in Assini­boia and Cliff Gray­don in Emer­son (which will be­come Border­land) leave holes that the­o­ret­i­cally could be filled by Martin. That would re­quire him to be­come a para­chute can­di­date, run­ning in a rid­ing in which he does not live. That is not nec­es­sar­ily a bar­rier for Martin; sev­eral MLAs, in­clud­ing Premier Brian Pal­lis­ter, cur­rently live out­side their con­stituen­cies.

North of Win­nipeg, a sim­i­lar crunch could take place in­volv­ing the up­com­ing rid­ing of In­ter­lakeGimli.

Cur­rently, Mu­nic­i­pal Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Jeff Whar­ton rep­re­sents the rid­ing of Gimli, while MLA Derek John­son rep­re­sents In­ter­lake. With those two rid­ings mashed to­gether, a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion will be re­quired to al­le­vi­ate the can­di­date grid­lock. All of the rid­ings in the im­me­di­ate vicin­ity of In­ter­lake-Gimli ap­pear to have in­cum­bents.

For the most part, there is nowhere to put John­son other than In­ter­lake-Gimli, which en­com­passes the gross ma­jor­ity of his cur­rent rid­ing. Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Ralph Eich­ler ap­pears to be a lock for Lake­side, while Alan Lag­i­modiere would be a log­i­cal choice to run in Selkirk. That leaves the afore­men­tioned Red River North, which does run up against parts of Whar­ton’s cur­rent rid­ing, but does not in­clude the town of Gimli it­self, where he lives.

In Win­nipeg, there will no doubt be sim­i­lar con­flicts, al­though there may be many more open rid­ings for can­di­dates to con­sider.

A rash of re­tire­ments and ex­pul­sions has cre­ated open­ings in the afore­men­tioned Assini­boia rid­ing and new rid­ings of Lag­i­mod­ière, McPhillips and Union Sta­tion.

The NDP faces a num­ber of crit­i­cal de­ci­sions for its ur­ban seats, not least of which may be nu­mer­ous va­can­cies.

The Maples is es­sen­tially an open seat now that the NDP has ejected MLA Mo­hin­der Saran from its cau­cus. The same holds true for Wolse­ley and Fort Garry, where MLAs Rob Al­te­meyer and James Al­lum, re­spec­tively, won’t seek re-elec­tion in 2020.

There is also un­cer­tainty for NDP MLA An­drew Swan, whose Minto rid­ing will dis­ap­pear. Swan lives in Wolse­ley and could run there, so he has op­tions.

Open as well is the new rid­ing of Union Sta­tion, carved from the south­ern part of the Point Dou­glas con­stituency. Union Sta­tion will be an en­clave made up of new, up­per-mid­dle-class vot­ers who have been slowly pop­u­lat­ing the down­town east of Main Street and south of Hig­gins Av­enue. The NDP has owned Point Dou­glas, but Union Sta­tion may prove to be a tougher bat­tle for the of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion.

Once all the can­di­dates have iden­ti­fied their con­stituency of choice, it may turn out that, un­like a game of mu­si­cal chairs, there is a seat for ev­ery­one.

Or it won’t.

As bor­ing as it may sound, the elec­toral bound­aries com­mis­sion is, in ac­tu­al­ity, quite a wild card.

Shan­non Martin (from top), An­drew Swan and Ron Schuler are among the many MLAs who are af­fected by re­cent changes to Manitoba’s elec­toral map.

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