B.C. electoral boundary plan needs judge’s review
QMI AGENCY FILE
A government watchdog is asking Victoria to get a constitutional reference from the B.C. Court of Appeal regarding changes to electoral voting boundaries.
IntegrityBC’s Dermod Travis said BC Electoral Boundaries Commission amendments that would require the body to leave ridings in northern B.C. alone as it makes changes, could lead to an underrepresentation of other ridings.
He used the example of the Stikine riding, which has about 13,000 registered voters compared to Surrey-Cloverdale’s 52,000.
Under the boundary changes Stikine could stay the same while Surrey-Cloverdale increases to 57,000 voters represented by one MLA.
“Instead of protecting a handful of rural ridings they are in fact trying to protect the number of ridings in three regions of the province, 17 ridings in total,” Travis said. “They may find themselves on the wrong side of a constitutional action on this.”
He added such an imbalance could lead to challenges and the province should have a judge take a look at the constitutional implications of the decision.
“If you look at all of the other provinces . . . no other province comes close to protecting 17 ridings out of the 85,” he said, pointing out Canada’s largest province, Ontario, only protects 11. “That’s 20% of the legislature.”
B.C. currently has 85 ridings and Travis said the province seems determined to maintain the status quo.
He called winning the 17 ridings an important stepping stone to a majority government.
The B.C. Ministry of Justice said it hadn’t “referred the question to court” but believed it can properly balance the ridings and growing government won’t be needed.