When Our Institutions Work: Urban Federal Ridings in Saskatchewan


The federal boundary redistribution process was not a particularly accessible democratic tool. For something as significant as how we vote in federal elections, there was stunningly little buzz last summer when the opportunity arose for public involvement.

After more than a year of uncertainty, the new federal electoral boundaries in the province have been finalized. The report and  responses to House of Commons objections were released yesterday, and though two of ten MP objections were addressed, Saskatchewan is now the proud home of 5 exclusively urban ridings, 3 in Saskatoon and 2 in Regina.

These changes represent a shift away from the hybrid urban-rural ridings which have been blamed for our funky federal electoral results. Because the opportunity to redraw the federal voting districts only happens every decade, it is something to be taken seriously. We made an effort to cover this process as it happened, and called for changes, trying to avoid outcomes like the 2011 elections which allowed federal Conservatives to secure 92 per cent of the seats with just over half of the vote.

There was widespread support for a shift away from hybrid ridings and the creation of urban ridings in the submission phase, an argument propelled by a team of political scientists from the U of S and U of R, and echoed by urban residents of Regina and Saskatoon seeking better democratic representation through urban ridings.

There was no shortage of angry buzz from opponents of urban ridings in the hearing phase where Saskatchewan’s federally-appointed three person commission was bombarded with rhetorical pleas from a number of self-interested parties (not to mention hyper-partisan elected officials).

The buzzing continued when the commission released its recommendations in late summer, in support of the logical and well-evidenced arguments for urban ridings. It became almost a roar the when obviously self-interested MPs came forward publicly bemoaning the decision, questioning the performance of the panel members, and exhausting every imaginable federal tool to halt the process (including the infamous robo-call mess).

Considering how few functional democratic tools our fine citizenry have access to these days, I am considering these results a HUGE SUCESS SUCCESS. One that transforms Saskatchewan from a political anomaly – a scar in Canadian electoral representation, but also hopefully helps some of our province’s apathetic to recognize change is possible, to participate in politics, and to cast a vote.

39 thoughts on “When Our Institutions Work: Urban Federal Ridings in Saskatchewan”

  1. You have no idea how relieved this Cathedral resident is, to be in Regina Lewvan. Maybe now, I’ll actually see a CPC candidate on my doorstep. I’m not convinced Mr. Boughen exists. I’ve never seen him, and “Boughen” is too close to Boogie [Man] to be believed.

  2. There will be lots of confusion with these changes when the next federal election comes around.
    And it depends on voter turnout. Low voter count might not change anything.

  3. pc: Just as relieved as I am that Cathedral is where it is, and not part of my riding.

    And it’s “success”.

  4. I can only think they think you’re referring to the Cathedral’s “success” Barb.

    I’ll be interested to see if the new boundaries actually make any difference after all the hoopla.

  5. “It’s” being short for “it is”, as in “it is ‘success’, not ‘sucess'”, as Ms. Norton has written above. Brevity over clarity is always a poor choice, and not only when correcting spelling; I’m sorry I was unclear.

    I’m happy that Cathedral is in the new riding because that neighbourhood’s interests and attitude (intense self-regard; disdain for “suburbs” and rural folk; constant complaining; entitlement issues, etc.) diverge too much from those of my riding, and would have been a constant source of friction.

  6. We won’t be as cranky now, Barb. But to be fair, you try getting it up the ass politically for as long as we have and not show some of the cultural quirks you describe. Here’s to more harmonious relations between ridings!

  7. The commissioners were tasked to recognize communities of interest and unique identities when redistributing the boundaries.

    From those who presented at the Regina hearings, it was clear that the Cathedral area has a very distinct identity. The important difference being with rural constituents, rather than urban. There was speculation that it would prove almost impossible for one MP to represent both sets of interests effectively, given differences in education, health and economic interests.

    In terms of outcomes, we have already seen a number of MPs either deciding not to run or changing constituencies, which is, in my opinion, a good thing.

    The intent was to create pools of voters more like one another, and an appropriate Member to represent them. The shake-up represents the early phases of these processes. I expect as many as 5 seats have a good chance of falling from Conservative’s hands.

  8. I regret this already, but have the issues Barb claims as Cathedral’s really been taking up any time at all in Parliament, let alone enough time to create fiction with the supposed concerns of non-Cathedral people?

  9. Carle: you were doing so well until your second sentence!

    Kat: “Conservatives’ hands”.

    Bzzzzz, bzzzz.

  10. Emmet: no they’re not. Barb’s just being contrary. (Or is that “Barbs’ just…”?)

  11. Barb: Your proper use of quotes should have been a giveaway, so I stand corrected on this. My apologies.

    As for the rest:

    As I have several friends in what I recall being your neck of the woods – and having quaffed a pint or two at Cheers in my time – it strikes me that there isn’t as vast a divide between the residents of Cathedral and Argyle Park as your unsubstantiated generalizations attest. If all you see are constant sources of friction, perhaps there is a need to look within as a place to start lubrication (Carle, don’t jump in here).

  12. No problem, anonymusses.

    As to “unsubstantiated generalizations”, I refer you to the prairie dog archives, to name one source of Cathedral complaining. (remember the Safeway reno controversy?).The Leader Post also recently carried a letter to the editor from a resident upset about the long walk downtown, and another from someone unhappy with a recent residential zoning decision. In past years, the L-P and local electronic media have carried regular complaints fro Cathedral residents about snow removal and the interruption of business because of construction, all voiced as if the city had it in for Cathedral residents and was disrupting their lives out of deliberate malice. Finally, I refer you to Ms. Bernadette Wagner, who in this forum and in others has voiced the firm belief that the city, the public school board, the library board, and other entities all pick on Cathedral. I’m only reporting what I and everyone else hears, friend, so there we are.

    I don’t live in Argyle Park; I live in Coronation Park North. We do not think that we are the centre of the universe, nor do we believe that there’s a conspiracy against us.

  13. Complaints about snow removal and the interuption of business due to road construction are universal to the city, Barb. And again, I don’t know this unsubstatiated and ephemeral “everybody” that you cite. All I see is one name and a handful of generalized instances and you feel compelled to impugne thousands of people as being paranoid. I really don’t know what you hoped to accomplish with this tactic. Unless this is your way of apologizing. In which case, I accept.

  14. That would be “interruption”, “unsubstantiated”, and “impugn”, and you’re welcome, I’m sure.
    I can’t apologize for writing the truth, now can I?

  15. Yes, I wrote from a smartphone, riddling my response with errors. Shame on me for inattentive proofreading; haste makes waste, etc.

    Actually, I’m flattered that all several thousand Cathedral residents have made your paranoiac enemies list, nestled snugly somewhere between Daniel Schorr and Paul Newman. It’s nice to know you’re thinking of us. Constantly.

    Seriously, I honestly don’t understand why you seemingly desire to antagonize and belittle people when you obviously possess a great deal of intelligence otherwise. What good does it accomplish, Barb? There are other, less disdainful ways to express a critical voice.

    Also, I’m honestly curious: what do you see as being the concerns of your riding?

  16. I don’t know where you get the Daniel Schorr and Paul Newman references, or what they’re supposed to signify, but please be advised that I don’t constantly think about Cathedral. As to antagonizing, belittling, and paranoid fantasizing, I’d say, from what I’ve heard and read from Cathedral folk over the years, that they had those activities pretty much down to a science.
    There’s no way to be tactful in criticising a neighbourhood which has been and continues to be so completely self-regarding and so desirous of special treatment.

    With all due respect, I’m not sure that you really want to know what the concerns are of the riding where I live. Since it has a rural component, well, that would put us beneath the interest of an all-urban riding.

  17. Thank you for your reply, Barbara.

    To respond:

    1) This is a Richard Milhous Nixon reference. He had a habit of cataloguing unsubstantiated grievances, and felt that anyone who did not share his interests was therefore against him. Hence, the “enemies list”.

    2) You continue to spin faulty generalizations rather than providing factual data that bolsters your tarnished view that ALL – or even a simple majority – of residents of one particular neighbourhood think in lockstep. The “disdain for rural folk” is so laughable as an argument that it beggars belief; I likely have more farmers in my family tree than you have voodoo dolls of the aforementioned Ms. Wagner. Which is, I presume, a lot. And I respect them well enough that when it comes to debates of issues such as the CWB – an issue that more greatly impacts them than it does me – they should have an MP who has their undivided attention.

    3) By identifying several purported issues of Cathedral residents – almost all of which have absolutely no bearing in a federal realm – and then churlishly dismissing a sincere request at engagement, this tells me that either you have no idea about what is going on in your riding or others, or you have no current interest in engagement in civil matters, in all common meanings of the word. Prove me wrong, Barbara.

  18. Dear anonymusses: if you wanted to engage in a serious discussion, you could have begun by not making references that you have to take time later to clarify; it’s wasteful and clutters the debate.

    I’ve already referred you to examples of the Cathedral mindset, which you apparently don’t care to check out. If we don’t hear otherwise from other voices in Cathedral, perhaps it’s because they agree, or because they disagree but are afraid of being shouted down.

    Name-calling is out of line. I was not churlish or uncivil when I said “With all due respect”; I meant it, and still do.

    Federal bearing of issues is beside the point: the attitude is what I have been pointing to all along. Ms. Steel certainly reflects that attitude in her “getting it up the ass” comment above.

    Actually, the onus is on you to prove me wrong, but you’ve done nothing to substantiate your claim that I am.

  19. Jesus, you’re pissy today, Barb. I have not had political representation at the federal level for going on ten years. To you, that would add up to entitled and complaining? You’ve got funny ideas about democracy.

  20. Barb:

    1) If it’s a reference you don’t get, try Google. And what debate? You make blanket condemnations and when I hand you an opportunity on a silver platter to show that the differences between two ridings are too great, you dismiss this with a patronizing insult.

    2) If your dataset to judge thousands of people by is select comment boards of a community news blog, I really can’t help you. You were the one who started this, sorry. Your onus. Do some research. Get to know people personally. Don’t be lazy.

    3) You state, unequivocally, that Cathedral’s “interests” differ too greatly from your neighbourhood, and then you try to swing it entirely to “attitude”? So, in other words, you get to change the terms of the premise of your argument midstream, without providing a shred of hard data to back up your claim that our interests are too different?

    4) Name-calling? What name-calling? “Churlish” is a correct response to your passive-agressive, “oh, I would tell you what we think but you’re clearly above it all” reply to a sincere request. I’ve shown you respect and desire for engagement, and gotten stuff like this in return.

    I do believe you may be the most ungracious person that I’ve never met, and this is not meant as mere “name-calling”. It likely goes without saying that I’ll be recusing myself from further discussion.

  21. That would be “aggressive”.

    Fine with me, anonymusses, as you refuse to have a discussion worthy of the name.

  22. Carle: sorry to contradict you, but I’ve kept my temper while others all about were losing theirs and blaming it on me (very rough Kipling paraphrase).

    Actually, you have had representation at the federal level — just not the kind you liked. There are no doubt people in ridings all over the country who feel the same way, so perhaps you and other Cathedral folk could develop a little perspective on that. At the next federal election, you may elect an MP more to your taste, but it will take more than a boundary change: luck, hard work, and a decent turnout at the polls would do it. Just keep in mind that, while you now have an all-urban riding, it is by no means homogeneous. Just saying…

  23. Gosh, Barb, take a moment, count backwards from 10, and read what you’ve written and what others have written. No one has accused you of losing your temper. You contradict nothing. You’re arguing points that you’ve invented and assigned to others.
    The only one who’s come close to calling Cathedral homogeneous is you, with your insulting generalizations and hobbyhorse grudges.

  24. Barb, you must have missed the part where I welcomed the prospect of the CPC canvassing my neighbourhood. It was subtle, but there nonetheless. By all means though, paint with the widest brush possible. It definitely builds credibility.

  25. On another note, it’s always somewhat startling to discover a comment I’ve written while, evidently, enaged in a dialogue with the bottle. Not quite so startling as finding it in “Barking Dogs,” which occurred a few months back, but still…

Comments are closed.