The province last week introduced the proposed Election Statute Law Amendment Act which would, among other things, possibly create two new seats for Northern Ontario at Queen’s Park (from the current 11 to 13).
While the increase won’t make a huge difference in the 107-seat legislature, any move to expand the north’s voice at Queen’s Park is welcomed.
But let’s not start celebrating around here just yet.
Perhaps the easiest way to create the extra seats, at least on paper, is to split the current Kenora-Rainy River and Timmins-James Bay ridings into two. It certainly seems logical given the huge geographic areas they each encompass, which makes it difficult for the sitting MPPs to serve all the far-flung communities adequately.
But in the case of Kenora-Rainy River, for instance, just where would this split occur? Would it be along an east-west line or north-south, or perhaps on a diagonal? Or maybe our district will get its own riding again—like it was before we were lumped with Kenora in the mid-1990s?
What we definitely don’t want to see happen is what occurred here federally, when Kenora-Rainy River was split into Kenora and Thunder Bay-Rainy River—leaving us stuck in an artificial east-west alignment rather than the more natural north-south one.
We have much more in common with the Kenora, Dryden, and Red Lake areas than Thunder Bay—and that’s even more the case when it comes to issues at the provincial level.
Giving the north more voice is great. But let’s make it clear right from the get-go that any attempt to mirror our federal boundaries is not in the best interest of Rainy River District.