Proposed amendments to Electoral Boundaries Commission Act

Government will move to protect rural and northern ridings

The BC government announced last week that they are proposing to amend the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act.

Legislation would be amended to maintain existing northern and rural electoral districts and ensure that the number of provincial electoral districts stays at 85.

The proposed amendments:

address the need to ensure effective representation for northern and rural British Columbians;

ensure the responsible use of tax dollars by holding the line on the creation of new electoral districts; and

provide the Electoral Boundaries Commission clear direction before it begins its work in May 2014.

If passed in the spring sitting of the legislature, the amendments will give the next Electoral Boundaries Commission (EBC) clear direction to preserve the existing number of electoral districts in northern and rural regions of the province when recommending new boundaries.

Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald says he applauds the premise of protecting representation by population but he hopes the government has done full research to avoid a challenge in the courts.

“I’m not confident we won’t be thrown into chaos before the next election if there is a court challenge,” Macdonald said. “For me and the people in this area we can be pleased with the direction to protect rural ridings and I don’t think there is an appetite for more seats. I’m supportive of the concept, but cautious of court challenges prior to the next election. Certainly a lot of recent legislation has been challenged in court because it wasn’t thoroughly researched beforehand.”

Macdonald says he also finds it somewhat ironic that this is being presented as being respectful of rural MLAs when the government has allowed democracy as a whole to degrade by cancelling legislative sittings.

“The government says it recognizes the importance of representation, but we’re not sitting.”

Public comment on the proposed changes can be submitted to CPLOBoundaries@gov.bc.ca

The white paper can be found online at:

http://www.ag.gov.bc.ca/legislation/ebca/index.htm