Tuesday, Feb 28, 2017 06:00 am
Last Friday, the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission hosted a public hearing in Westlock to hear input on possible changes to the province’s 87 ridings.
This was the last in a series of hearings held by the commission, which will now work on an interim report with recommendations for changes to be submitted to the Legislature prior to May 31. More hearings will follow in the summer.
Few people from Westlock turned out for the hearing and while that is somewhat unfortunate, it is perhaps understandable.
Sure, it’s important to take part in the political process, but there are no major issues with the size and shape of Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock that we’re really aware of.
Yes, Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock is below the target population of 46,697 people, but only by a few thousand citizens. Thus, few would have anything to say.
But a few people did attend the hearing and they made an argument that we would strongly support.
They included Pembina Hills Public Schools trustee Jan Hoffart and Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette, who made the very salient point that a constituency that is too large is effectively impossible to represent.
Piquette warned that representing his riding as it is now is very difficult, as there are often multiple events occurring at the same time.
Hoffart noted that while there are methods of electronic communication available, nothing really beats having face-to-face conversations with your elected representative on important issues.
If there’s one person we wish could have appeared at the riding — though there may have been some conflict in doing so — it would have been Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen.
After all, he’s tasked with representing an obscenely large federal riding that covers a wide range of economic bases, needs and populations. He’d no doubt have some interesting thoughts to share.
Anyway, we hope these arguments have some small impact on the Electoral Boundaries Commission.
Re-drawing electoral boundaries to meet certain population targets is well and good, but rural communities with unique identities should not be lumped together just to meet a quota. Westlock is not Whitecourt, and Morinville is not Athabasca.