The Commission sticks to the plan which divides Saint John between 2 constituencies
The commission responsible for redrawing New Brunswick’s federal electoral districts is sticking to its earlier proposal to split the city of Saint John.
Despite criticism from residents as well as Saint John-Rothesay MLA Wayne Long, the commission plans to divide the city into two separate electoral districts along the Saint John River.
The new electoral district of Saint John-St. Croix would include residents of Saint John living west of the Saint John River, as well as communities north and west to the U.S. border, who reside largely in what is now the riding of New -Brunswick Southwest.
The remainder of Saint John residents would be included in the district of Saint John-Kennebecasis, which largely mirrors the current constituency of Saint John-Rothesay, but would include the town of Quispamsis.
The decision and the reasons for it are set out in a report the commission tabled in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
“The urban and rural populations of Saint John-St. Croix are significant,” Judge Lucie LaVigne, chair of the commission, wrote in the report.
« Therefore, the elected representative will have to look out for the interests of both, and the Commission is confident that neither urban voices nor rural voices will be lost. »
« Amazing » decision: deputy
This week’s report follows a series of public consultation sessions the commission held in every electoral district earlier this year.
Much of the report deals with participant feedback, with the commission noting that the changes affecting Saint John elicited the most responses.
Long raised his concerns at the consultation session held in Rothesay in September and said he was disappointed that it had no effect on the commission’s decision.
« It’s mind-boggling to me that what they did for Moncton and Fredericton was to consolidate those ridings around one MP, and they did the exact opposite in Saint John, » he said Thursday. .
« It’s unthinkable, it’s wrong, and it’s a sad day for Saint John. »
Long said he was concerned that residents of west Saint John would be overlooked by an MP serving a largely out-of-town electorate.
“West Saint John is in this riding, but 20% of this riding will be Saint John, the remaining 80% will be Charlotte County.
“So, with the greatest respect, where will the focus be? Where will the responsibility of voters be? It will be Charlotte County. It will not be in west Saint John. »
Long said he plans to appeal the committee’s decision and will need to get the signatures of 10 other lawmakers to do so.
Once that happens, the appeal will be considered by a standing parliamentary committee, he said.
Opt out of other offers
Initially proposed changes to New Brunswick’s electoral districts did not all materialize.
The commission originally proposed moving McAdam to the neighboring riding of Tobique-Mactaquac, which includes communities as far north as Victoria County.
The commission heard opposition to this at one of its public consultation meetings and ultimately decided to include McAdam in the Saint John-St. Riding the Cross.
McAdam Deputy Mayor Taylor Gallant said he was pleased with the commission’s decision.
Gallant said residents of McAdam have strong social and economic ties to communities like Saint Andrews and St. Stephen.
In addition, the village shares the same regional service commission and provincial deputy with the southern communities.
« So it doesn’t make much sense to separate us, » Gallant said.
Fundy Royal’s name remains unchanged
The commission also decided to keep the rural community of Four Falls in the electoral district of Tobique-Mactaquac, instead of moving it to Madawaska-Restigouche, as previously planned.
The reason given is that the community of approximately 500 people is mostly made up of English speakers closer to the communities of Aroostook and Perth-Andover, already included in Tobique-Mactaquac.
Another change to the original proposal made was not to the boundaries, but rather to the name of one of the constituencies.
The commission originally proposed renaming the constituency of Fundy Royal to Fundy Royal-Riverview, as the boundary was being redrawn to include all of Riverview.
However, LaVigne wrote that Fundy Royal MP Rob Moore disputed the name change, arguing it was unnecessary because Riverview is already in Albert County and the county is named after the Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria.
“He argued that the current name strikes a fair balance of fair representation of all communities in the riding,” LaVigne wrote.
« Given the arguments of the MP and the fact that the Commission had sought to retain the current constituency names where appropriate, she is now satisfied that no name change is required for this constituency, » her report.