The Far North Electoral Boundaries Commission, established in 2015 by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, is currently studying the possible creation of new ridings in Northern Ontario. Specifically, its mandate is to evaluate whether the boundaries of Kenora-Rainy River and Timmins-James Bay should be redrawn so as to create one or two additional ridings.
There are a number of reasons for this redistribution, including the need to ensure that each riding has roughly the same number of voters, since every vote should have the same weight in all parts of the province.
However, in the case of the Commission’s work, the importance of redistribution is also based on the need for the political representation of Indigenous and Francophone communities. Those communities have a particular history and interests, and it is important to consider every available avenue to ensure that one of their members has a seat at Queen’s Park.
As shown by its preliminary report, the Commission has taken those needs seriously. After multiple consultations in the region, including in the Indigenous and Francophone communities, it is recommending the creation of two additional ridings. As a result, the entire Far North of Ontario would be covered by four ridings: Kenora-Rainy River, Timmins, Mushkegowuk and Kiiwetinong.
The Commissioner’s Office supports the Commission’s recommendation regarding the creation of these new ridings, since it reflects the importance of the political representation of Indigenous and Francophone communities.
The Commission is expected to complete its work this fall, and a bill incorporating its recommendations is likely to be introduced by October 30. During the consultations, we submitted a brief to the Commission to contribute to its discussions and ensure that the importance of the political representation of Francophones is considered in the redistribution process.
We therefore recommend
- that the Commission maintain its recommendations concerning the new ridings of Kenora-Rainy River, Timmins, Mushkegowuk and Kiiwetinong, as described in its preliminary report; and
- that the Legislative Assembly pass a bill incorporating the recommendations concerning the new ridings of Kenora-Rainy River, Timmins, Mushkegowuk and Kiiwetinong, as described in the Commission’s preliminary report.