Further to the hearings that are going on via Parliamentary committee into the proposed changes to Saskatchewan’s federal electoral boundaries, when the new map was submitted to the Speaker of the House of Commons in late December 13 of Saskatchewan’s 14 MPs filed objections. The only one who didn’t was Conservative MP Andrew Scheer who, by virtue of being speaker, is prohibited from acting in a partisan manner.
Saskatchewan’s 12 remaining Conservative MPs all objected to the creation of exclusively urban ridings in the province. Wascana Liberal MP Ralph Goodale also filed an objection. He supported the majority report, though, and took issue with the minority report that recommended the continuation of blended rural/urban ridings.
Here’s his take on how the hearings have been going via a Letter to the Editor that was submitted to our office today:
At two recent meetings of the Parliamentary Committee now examining proposed new federal election boundaries in Saskatchewan, Conservative MPs — without a shred of justification — have launched nasty personal attacks against the Commissioners who produced the new map.
Those Commissioners are Mr. Justice Ronald Mills of the Court of Queen’s Bench (chosen by the Chief Justice of Saskatchewan), University of Saskatchewan Professor Emeritus Dr. John Courtney and the President of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities David Marit (both chosen by House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer).
After receiving and weighing extensive public input, Judge Mills and Professor Courtney agreed upon a fair and balanced new map for Saskatchewan’s 14 ridings to include six predominantly rural seats, five urban constituencies, and three ridings that are rural-urban blends. Mr. Marit dissented, arguing against any distinctly urban representation.
In a series of unseemly tantrums, the Conservatives have falsely accused Judge Mills and Professor Courtney of bias and bad faith. They even used a deceitful Robocall campaign to attack the Commissioners’ values. Such vitriol is totally offensive.
What the Conservatives fail to grasp is that electoral boundaries are not their partisan play-things to be contrived and manipulated to their advantage. That’s why the law provides for election boundaries to be drawn, not by politicians, but by knowledgeable, independent people of high public stature in an arm’s length, non-partisan, quasi-judicial manner.
Nothing could be more fundamental than to prevent gerrymandering and preserve the integrity of our democracy.