Gerrymandering Electoral Boundaries

Political appointees meddling with where you vote

Can you predict who will win the next provincial election?

Did you know there may be meddling to influence the outcome – that some results may be pre-determined?

Boundaries of an electoral constituency can be manipulated to favour parties.  This is known as gerrymandering.

A Commission has been working quietly for the last ten months drawing Manitoba’s new provincial constituency boundaries.   Which means the five individuals who make up the Commission will have more influence on the outcome of the next election than hundreds of thousands of voters.

Their decision in the coming months will go a long way to deciding elections in this province for decades to come.

The Commission has asked for public input.

The unknown five may determine with a high degree of certainty the party alignment of your MLA in the next election and elections up to 2030 and beyond. Their decision will be based on population and public input. Each of Manitoba’s 57 constituencies will be based on a population of about 22,500 people.

But how do you decide to slice the pie? Where do the pieces in the puzzle go? There are countless ways to split the province up.

Democracy is about making your vote count.  If you and your neighbours don’t stand up to be counted during this process, your vote could very well be worth less the next time you are at the ballot box.

This is happening right now.  So far, there have only been 46 submissions to the Commission – and most of those have come from the political parties themselves. 

To make this a truly democratic process, residents need to get involved because this literally affects you where you live – and more importantly, where you vote.

Preliminary maps outlining the battle grounds of next elections have been released.

The new suggested boundaries deviate significantly from the old ones – and given population shifts in the province, this in itself is not surprising.

But what is disappointing and perhaps not surprising is the boundary guidelines are not being followed.  There might be partisan advantage in this, but it is not to the advantage of the people or the principals upon which our democracy depends.

There are rules that must be followed to ensure fairness. Including a variance range of 10%, projected population changes, respecting territorial integrity of certain entities, use of physical boundaries, and name changes.

Like dominos, the change of one boundary automatically changes the boundary of another.

Let’s take one example clearly and unquestionably against the guidelines – and common sense.

The boundaries of Charleswood might be about to jump the Assiniboine River. This pushes Kirkfield Park from the west part of St. James into a little bubble of a specific demographic which tends to favor the governing party.

The provincial riding of St. James is pushed into a reverse C formation hugging the east side remains of Assiniboia.

If the guidelines are followed there would be no jumping of rivers. The traditional heart of communities would be maintained while respecting the principal of representation by population.

In the case of Charleswood, it would make sense for the boundary not to jump the river and instead move east to include all of Charleswood. The Assiniboine forest would be the natural boundary and the historic or the legacy municipalities of Charleswood St. James Assiniboia and Tuxedo can be maintained.

The boundaries seem like an assurance certain seats will stay with certain political parties given the demographics.

More information can be found here.



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