Wednesday, September 23, 2009

notes re my Boundaries Commission submission

For us Wildrosers, this could end up being a big deal. It's entirely possible that after the next election the Liberals will end up over-represented because of urban vote splits between the PCs and the WAP, while the PCs end up over-represented because rural admirers of Stelmach's inelaborate ways get so many seats, and the WAP ends up holding the bag because rapidly growing areas like Airdrie, communities surrounding Edmonton's Anthony Henday and Terwillegar Drives, and (especially) Calgary's western and southern suburbs don't get the representation they deserve.

The very first call of support I got last year, within an hour or two of the candidate list appearing on our party website, was from a lawyer with Alberta's most prestigious boutique tax law firm who happened to live in a condo in my riding. If you look at the changes that have occurred in the party executive over the last year, the culmination of which would be Danielle Smith becoming leader, we will almost certainly skew even more towards upper middle class professionals and the self-employed in terms of appeal. Rightly or wrongly, the natural habitat of these creatures is the 'burbs.

If one looks at the legislative history of the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act, it is apparent that the Progressive Conservative dominated Assembly does what it believes it has to do to secure a comfortable majority for the PC Party, and then concedes the rest in order preserve the optics of fairness. Exhibit A is the old rule that a riding with a population more than 25% lower than the average could not normally be created if it contained a town with a population in excess of 4000. There's a plausible reason for this limitation, namely that if much of the population is concentrated, the argument that the riding's population is scattered and therefore "inaccessible" is undermined, and the remoter residents would presumably have need to visit the significant population centre in their area on regular occasion anyway. But just this year the Tories doubled this to 8000. What happened to to the policy arguments for capping this at 4000? Out the window after the Tories decided they can no longer afford to acknowledge those arguments. This when the "global village" is shrinking; the difference between now and when the 4000 number was introduced appears to be 20 years and the invention of the communication expanding internet. The Tories would evidently have us believe that e-mail has made "accessibility" worse, such that the need for distortion of the representation by population principle is greater than ever!

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