OTTAWA — Toronto could lose some representation in the House of Commons due to rapid population growth outside the city, and some local MPs say it’s an unacceptable decline in democracy for Canada’s largest metropolis.
Under suggested new federal constituency boundaries in Ontario, Toronto would go from 25 to 24 constituencies as part of a redrawn electoral map that represents an additional 1.3 million provincial residents with the addition of a single seat.
“I think it’s outrageous,” said John McKay, the longtime Scarborough-Guildwood Liberal MP, noting how Scarborough is taking the hit in Toronto by being cut from six to five with the proposed changes.
He called it an “appalling diminution of the influence of Scarborough and Toronto in the Parliament of Canada”.
In an email to the Star, Scarborough North MP Shaun Chen echoed McKay’s position, expressing concern that the proposed boundaries would divide communities like the Alton Towers Circle neighborhood into different districts.
“Once again, Scarborough is being misled,” Chen said. “I encourage everyone to speak at the upcoming public hearings.”
Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who has represented Beaches—East York since 2015, also criticized the proposed changes for decreasing Toronto’s number of seats in the House of Commons.
“The goal of any boundary redesign should be to strengthen representation, and this proposal instead undermines that goal,” said Erskine-Smith, who is the chair of the Liberal Party caucus for its 24 MPs in Toronto.
“Our 416 caucus is actively reviewing the proposal and will work together to ensure that any changes improve representation in the city and province,” he added.
The proposal was unveiled Friday as part of a once-in-a-decade event. process to recalibrate federal travel across Canada to ensure fair representation in the face of population changes. The changes for each province are recommended by an independent commission; in Ontario, they are based on a goal for each trip to contain about 116,590 residents.
in a statement Alongside the suggested changes, the chair of the Ontario Federal Electoral Boundary Commission, Superior Court Judge Lynne Leitch, said the redrawn electoral map is intended to “correct for wide variations in voter equality that have emerged across the province during the last decade due to the population”. change.”
In response to questions from the Star about the changes in Toronto, the commission said rapid population growth in areas outside the city limits led it to eliminate one trip from Toronto and add two in other areas of the province.
“The population of each constituency in the city of Toronto is now within 10 percent of the provincial average,” the commission said.
The commission had to work with 122 constituencies to represent Ontario’s 2021 population of more than 14.2 million people. The last time driving limits were redrawn, Ontario received 121 seats for its population of nearly 12.9 million people in 2011.
Census data 2021 data shows that some of the fastest growing communities in Canada are in the suburbs outside of Toronto, including East Gwillimbury, which grew 44% from 2016 to 2021, and New Tecumseth, which grew 28%. Toronto grew less than three percent during those five years.
In the coming months, the commission will hold public hearings on the proposed leadership changes and is scheduled to receive and consider “MP’s objections” before issuing a final decision in September 2023.
McKay said he plans to argue against the proposed changes after hearing what other parliamentarians in the city think.
“We will discuss the impact amongst ourselves and see what our strategy could be,” he said.
The Erskine-Smith drive is one of several in Toronto that would receive new names under the proposed changes. Beaches—East York would become the Beaches—East York.
Other changes include renaming Parkdale—High Park to Taiaiako’n—High Park and reshaping the boundaries of Toronto—St. Paul’s, so it becomes a new riding named St. Clair—Mount Pleasant.
Once the reapportionment is complete, the number of seats in the House of Commons will increase by five, when Canada will have 343 Members of Parliament.
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