• The Low Down

Redistribution reducing rural power not clear

The Editor,

I write in response to what Mark Buzan said in Valley Voices about redistribution of Pontiac’s electoral boundaries (“Pontiac redistributions strips rural communities of voting power,” Oct. 12 edition).

Reduced voting power in rural parts of constituencies is likely quite common, as people move into larger cities. But Mr. Buzan fails to show how transferring several communities to Laurentides-Labelle would reduce rural voting power. I expect the transferred communities would still be represented, just in a different riding. Mr. Buzan does not provide any clarity regarding whether their representation would be either stronger or weaker in the new riding. The rural communities remaining in Pontiac will be represented according to their populations, which will be fewer by the number of voters transferred.

Without trying to speak on behalf of Mr. Buzan, I think the main problem he seeks to address is that rural voters in general feel overwhelmed by the population-based voting system we use. Rather than objecting more emotionally than logically to the proposed transfer, he might consider looking at re-defining riding boundaries so as to separate rural and urban voters in different ridings. This approach might be inefficient, since rural-only ridings would be much larger in area, with attendant logistical problems in administering the voting process across great distances. And voters in such geographically dispersed areas might prefer their representatives to address “local” issues rather than ones based on rurality.

I see no easy solution to this problem, but I do not think that describing the proposed changes as “counterproductive to the fairness that we as Canadians want to achieve in our electoral processes” is helpful. Nor is muddying the issue by drawing in concerns of linguistic minorities. I’d like Mr. Buzan to demonstrate more factually how the status quo is preferred to the proposed alternative.

Frank Eaton

Chelsea, QC