Politicians shouldn't decide B.C.'s electoral boundaries

Real democracy means each person has equal legislative power.

This means each person has an equal opportunity to affect legislation. No vote should have more or less impact than another.

With the 2008 redrawing of the B.C. electoral boundaries the population of the riding of Comox Valley was 59,482 and that of Stikine was 20,622.

The result of this was that a vote in the Stikine was worth almost three votes in Comox Valley. The BC Electoral Boundaries Commission recommended against this—it was a decision of the legislature.

Now the Liberal government has introduced a bill to make this disparity the law, and with population growth the disparity is getting worse with time. Using the latest Census figures one finds the largest disparity in 2011 was a factor of 3.6. The argument for such a disparity in populations in the past was that it was needed to obtain effective representation in areas where communication was difficult. With modern communications this argument is no longer valid.

East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett’s argument is that “I have become concerned that those people that live in small towns in rural areas of the province are losing their political power.”

What does this mean? One could make a better argument that inner-city residents need more representation than average in order to help raise their standard of living. And that it is more difficult to serve them because of poverty and language problems.

This bill is a step backwards. This legislation is surely unconstitutional. The government should withdraw it. That would be better than having to go to court.

It is interesting to note that for the provincial electoral districts, the B.C. legislature makes the final decision, whereas for federal electoral districts it is the Federal Boundaries Commission that has final say.

During the 2012 B.C. Federal Boundaries Commission hearings I neither read nor heard any arguments like Bill Bennett's. And if there were any, the commission did not bow to them. All but one of the riding populations are within 10% of the average—the one exception had a population 14 % below the average.

It would evidently be better to have the BC Boundaries Commission, not the legislature, be in charge of the decision on the B.C. boundaries.

David Huntley


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