It was announced recently that the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia has concluded its work of redrawing the province’s federal electoral map.
Cariboo Prince George MP Dick Harris said last week that there is only one small change in his riding.
“In the Bella Coola Valley there is a lane that divides Hagensborg and Bella Coola, and up until this latest change, my riding was on the east side, and Skeena Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen’s riding was on the west side,” he said. “Last time these changes were made, I suggested that they give the whole Bella Coola Valley to one or the other of us — now he has the whole thing.”
Harris said that his riding ends now at Anahim Lake, and that he’s glad to see the change.
“When they look at these ridings they take population, cultural and demographic similarities and historical experiences into consideration, and this change makes sense,” he continued. “I have one of the best ridings in all of Canada.”
Cullen said he never understood the Bella Coola Valley divide in the first place.
“I’ve been going to Bella Coola since 2003 and I love the communities there — they’re very unique and interesting,” he said. “I also sit on the committee that looks at all the ridings throughout Canada, and found the electoral boundary committee to be very supportive.”
The independent commission was created in February 2012 to set boundaries so that each electoral district contains roughly the same number of people while also taking into account communities of interest or identity, historical patterns and geographic size in sparsely populated regions.
The riding changes are made to ensure that no area is under-represented, according to Harris.
“That means that if one riding had 110,000 residents and the one next to it has 155,000, in the latter case those residents could be under-represented,” he said.
Cullen also noted that the change between the west Chilcotin and the Bella Coola Valley is very dramatic. “You want people to be associated to their riding, and nature comes into it as much as culture and history,” he explained.
“This electoral divide came up during a major flooding crisis in the Bella Coola Valley — people were looking for help and they came to me. It makes much more sense for the whole valley to be one riding.”
He said that he wants it to be easy for people to vote.
“I want, despite your political affiliation, for you to believe in democratic values,” he continued. “We want to re-double our efforts to restore confidence.”
The commission’s office in Vancouver is now closed.
Requests for information on the next steps in the redistribution process can be directed to Elections Canada’s Media Relations Office.
To consult the report, visit www.federal-redistribution.ca.