Public Interest Alberta Executive Director Joel French recently joined Public Interest Alberta's Democracy Task Force Chair Larry Booi and Democracy Task Force member Dr. Don Carmichael to present to the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission at their public hearing in Edmonton. You can read our press release for more information on our presentation to the Commission. We encourage you to attend a hearing in your area.Public Interest Alberta's Democracy Task Force has also put together a written submission to the Electoral Boundaries Commission. The Task Force is encouraging Public Interest Alberta members and the general public to make a submission online as well. The deadline for submissions is February 8, 2017.
What you can do
We encourage you to make your own submission until February 8, 2017. Simply visit the submissions portion of the Commission's website, and fill out the form. Your submission doesn't have to be long or detailed; what is most important is that you participate. We invite you to read over our submission to get a sense of what we are calling for. In short, our two main points are that the Commission should:
1. Limit the variance in the constituency population size to 5%.
The current legislation allows variances of 25%, but that was meant to serve as an outside limit, in very different times.
Clearly, the goal should be to have constituencies of equal population size, but due to the desire to take into account some local circumstances (for example, existing community and municipal boundaries) some modest degree of latitude is necessary. The proposed five per cent variance would actually amount to ten per cent, since it would allow five per cent above and below the average.
In addition, the Commission should not make use of their power to create any of the four “special exceptions” constituencies of even wider variance as allowed under the legislation, since the particular circumstances of these areas can be better addressed through other means, such as by providing more assistance and support to MLAs.
2. Call on the Legislative Assembly to increase support to MLAs to assist them in effectively representing their constituents and addressing their varying needs.
While acting on a commitment to political equality and representation by population, the Electoral Boundaries Commission should point out that they are no longer using population variance to address the challenges of representation. In doing so, the Commission should call on appropriate bodies to ensure that all MLAs have the necessary staff and technical support to address those their representational challenges.
Such additional support is not only justifiable, but long overdue. It will mean that the Legislative Assembly must revise and enhance the formula for providing support, with the goal of allowing all MLAs to more effectively represent their constituents and their unique circumstances in rural, urban, and suburban constituencies throughout the province.
The increased costs are an investment in strengthening democracy in our province and a necessary complement to the move to more political equality and representation by population.
Public Interest Alberta in the news
Voter equality vital for electoral boundary review commission says interest group by Tyler Marr, Lloydminster Meridian Booster
Electoral boundaries hearing in Red Deer on Friday delayed one hour by Mary-Ann Barr, Red Deer Advocate
For more information
All votes for MLA deserve an equal weight by Michael Janz, Chair of the Edmonton Public School Board
Time for ridings to better reflect Alberta by the Edmonton Journal Editorial Board
Suburban voters must get the political power they deserve by David Staples, Edmonton Journal