Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly is happening?
According to Canadian election law, after every decennial census, Canada's riding boundaries must be altered to reflect changes in population shifts. The 2011 census was a decennial census, so Canada's ridings boundaries will be altered within the coming year. Since Northern Ontario has lost some population since the last redistribution close to 10 years ago, there is a threat of seats being taken away from the region. Redisribution should result in each riding in a province having similar population, but there are exceptions.
Why are the riding boundaries being changed?
Last year, the Harper Conservatives passed a law enlarging the House of Commons to 338 seats. Ontario will be getting 15 extra seats, giving the province a total of 121. That means Ontario must be divided up
so that it has 121 new electoral districts, or "ridings", from the 106 it has now. But even without this increase in seats, Ontario's riding boundaries would still have to be altered to reflect population shifts in the province.
Who is in charge of the process?
Three people per province are appointed by Elections Canada to be in charge of determining the new boundaries. These three people together make up what is called the "Boundaries Commission". The chair of the Ontario boundary
commission is the Hon. George Valin, and the two other members are Doug Colbourne and Dr. Leslie A. Pal. You can read more about them
When will the riding boundaries be changed?
The new boundaries are expected to be finalized in September 2013. In the mean time, there is a process where the Boundaries Commission hears suggestions from the public, submits an initial proposal, and gets feedback
from public hearings on that proposal before submitting a final recommendation. For more details go
Is Northern Ontario in danger of losing seats?
It is certainly possible that Northern Ontario could lose seats, despite the overall increase in the number of ridings in Ontario - and despite the fact that the average riding population in Ontario is going down because of that. Last redistribution, the region dropped from 11 to 10 seats in Parliament. If the Boundaries Commission does not hear from Northern Ontario residents that no more seats should be taken away, they may decide to reduce the region's weight in Parliament again.
Here is a chart that shows the populations of each riding in Northern Ontario and how they compare to the provincial average:
||% of Ontario average seat size
|Sault Ste. Marie
|Thunder Bay—Rainy River
|Thunder Bay—Superior North
|Northern Ontario average seat size
|Average Ontario seat size
Why shouldn't Northern Ontario lose seats?
Northern Ontario’s unique cultural and geographic considerations means the region's needs are different. There is more to representation that simple population, and Northern Ontario’s special regional character must be taken into account in this latest redistribution process. Geographic remoteness is already an obstacle to full federal representation; taking away yet another riding from the area would only serve to enlarge the remaining Northern Ontario ridings - many which are already bigger than European counties. Since the average riding population in Ontario will go down after redistribution, there is no need to take away representation from Northern Ontarians.
Canada is a nation built on diversity. We pride ourselves on giving a voice to diverse groups with different character, history, and needs.
And the needs of Northern Ontarians are different from those of Torontonians, for example. Taking seats from Northern Ontario would run contrary to that which we profess to value as Canadians, and would be a step in the wrong direction for a country that hopes
to protect our linguistic, geographic and cultural diversity.
In addition, the entire province will be getting an additional 15 seats, meaning the average riding population in Ontario will have decreased by 1.3% between the 2001 and 2011 censuses. Northern Ontario’s population has only gone down 0.8% in that time. Since the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission thought that Northern Ontario merited 10 seats during the last redistribution, then there are good reasons for them to keep our current number of ridings constant.
What can I do to ensure that Northern Ontario does not lose seats?
There are many ways that you can help to ensure that Northern Ontario's voice is not diminished in Parliament. Most importantly, you must let the Boundaries Commission know that they should ensure the region does not lost seats. You can
email, call or or send them a letter. You can also put a web badge on your blog (box ad to the right), sign the
Petition to the House of Commons, or
write your Member of Parliament, or
join the Facebook group and tell your friends.
Add a web badge
to your blog or website
and link back to this site.