Discontent over electoral boundaries

Dale Boddy wants a commission looking into new electoral boundaries in Alberta to ensure equal representation for all voters in the province.

Dale Boddy wants a commission looking into new electoral boundaries in Alberta to ensure equal representation for all voters in the province.

The Red Deer man said on Friday that he doesn’t believe the “gerrymandering,” or manipulating the boundaries, to favour rural voters over urban voters is fair.

He told a public hearing held at the Red Deer Lodge on Friday that under the current distribution 2.34 votes in Calgary-West equals one vote in the Dunvegan-Central Peace riding. There was a population of 23,649 people in the Dunvegan-Central Peace riding compared to 55,571 people for Calgary-West, according to the commission.

He said Albertans outside rural Alberta are being marginalized.

“There is an elephant in the room and that elephant is the Progressive Conservative party of Alberta. Of the 32 divisions in Alberta with lower than average populations two are in Edmonton, one is in Lethbridge and 29 are in rural Alberta,” Boddy said. “And rural Alberta votes Progressive Conservative.”

He said he is asking the commission to level the playing field between rural and urban voters and replace good Conservative politics for policies that will be good for Albertans.

While many of the handful of people at the public hearing on Friday were concerned about the discrepancy in the number of voters per riding in rural versus urban ridings, one presenter pointed to why the difference is necessary.

Winfield resident Shirley Cripps, who is a former MLA herself, said in order to have effective representation for all voters it is necessary that they have access to their representatives. She said both the size of the constituency and the distance it is from the legislature can have an effect on this. She said rural MLAs often lose 20 to 50 working days just on travel and that affects their accessibility.

She said the Edmonton/Calgary corridor is the most urbanized and densely populated areas of the province and government services are widely available.

She said in rural Alberta MLAs must often act as ombudsman providing information on services for their constituents.

Anyone wishing to still submit information can do so until Oct. 13 by sending their comments to info@altaebc.ab.ca, fax it to 780-422-2900 or by mail to Suite 100, 11510 Kingsway Ave., Edmonton, AB, T5G 2Y5. The commission will present an interim report in February 2010, followed by more public consultation and then a final report in July 2010.

sobrien@bprda.wpengine.com

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