Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has changed or proposed changes to 65 ridings since it took office — but some Conservatives think their plans are nothing short of unprecedented.
Nearly every major party since the 20th century has protected against change to ridings.
In the House of Commons on Thursday, Conservative MPs claimed “that no such democratic oversight exists,” adding that it is a “completely unprecedented act for any government in our history” — comments which were echoed by their Leader, Andrew Scheer.
Other Conservatives have also raised questions about the process that paved the way for the proposed electoral maps, which as proposed by the Liberals would redistribute electoral districts and give a small portion of Alberta each to the three New Democrats.
Conservative MPs have argued that not only are their own riding boundaries unfair, but they don’t trust a system they believe is designed to help Liberal incumbents keep their seats.
“We are literally saying that now, because the only protected by this is the [Liberal] safe seat in Toronto-Danforth, we’re going to severely disadvantage Conservatives in ridings where we now stand a very good chance to win,” Mr. Scheer told the National Post.
Constituency boundaries in the House of Commons are in constant change as results change. In the last three election campaigns, the Conservatives have seen their elected MPs lost several safe seats, and come close to losing their place at a majority government in 2015.
Although the Democratic Institutions Committee — which has met regularly and will continue to meet after the latest election — decided that they did not feel that the democratic process in an open process was enough to prevent changes, it also acknowledged that some of the proposed boundaries will “remain questionable on some level.”
After the Boundaries Advisory Council delivered its final recommendations in December, the advisory council met again to hear from MPs and local stakeholders before submitting its final boundary proposals to the House committee on July 11.
Municipal officials who have lobbied for changes to proposed boundaries of Ottawa West-Nepean and Calgary Nose Hill said they do not feel that the consultations were open.
“I’m hopeful we can be assured that this consultation process was held with great confidence and transparency. We can not be certain that it was,” said Stephen Byers, Mayor of Cottam.
Mr. Byers argued that some of the proposed boundaries, such as one that suggested Calgary’s Nose Hill and Ottawa’s Nepean would be 90 minutes apart, compared to currently only 45 minutes, are too far apart.
Brent Rathgeber, who lost his seat in the last election, said changes in Calgary West-Nepean are “startlingly far away” from his riding.
“I don’t think this is politically motivated,” he said. “This is to advance the Liberal electoral objectives.”
The current Boundaries Advisory Council must submit its final report by September 25. The government will then be able to adopt the proposed changes by law or send them back to the advisory council for a third and final reading.