Electoral changes erode rural voice

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Changing Alberta’s election boundaries isn’t enough to fix an imbalance of seats in Alberta’s legislature, it will create a new one.

The Province should be adding more MLAs to prevent an erosion of representation for rural areas.

New riding boundaries proposed in the final report of Alberta’s Electoral Boundaries Commission released last week, will add new ridings to Edmonton and Calgary at the expense of seats in rural Alberta. The changes won’t become official until ultimately approved by MLAs.

The changes were made to reflect population growth after election boundaries were last changed in 2010.

Unlike when the PC Ed Stelmach government added three seats, the NDP has opted for no additions this time.

Without adding more seats, the process was flawed from the start.

Yes, it was a difficult balancing act for the commission’s members to redraw the boundaries of Alberta’s 87 constituencies without adding any new ones.

The result was a consolidation of several seats in rural areas. This means fewer constituencies, with some covering massive areas.

The Livingstone Macleod electoral district is a good example. If the changes are approved, it will stretch from 434 Avenue in the MD of Foothills to the U.S. border. It’s a huge area, but it still pales in comparison to others.

One commission member spoke out to express her dismay that the commission was not able to add another seat. During an Oct. 19 press conference, Commissioner Gwen Day said adding one additional electoral district would’ve made a difference in helping rural areas.

MLAs should consider increasing the number of constituencies before the new boundaries become official. If not, it will leave long-term damage to representation for rural areas for potentially years to come.

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