Mayors, former MNAs call Quebec electoral map unfair to city-dwellers
Several Montreal-area mayors, former MNAs and other notable Quebecers are calling for the province’s electoral map to be redrawn, saying the current one is unfair to those who live in larger cities.
Included in the group were Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, Cote-St-Luc Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Montreal-West Mayor Beny Masella, city councillor Marvin Rotrand and councillors from Town of Mount-Royal, Cote-St-Luc and Hampstead.
Former MNAs Marlene Jennings and Lawrence Bergman, as well as The Suburban editor and activist Beryl Wajsman were also among those calling for reform.
The group referred to a court case, due to be held in 2019, challenging Elections Quebec on the current map, which was issued in 2017. The group pointed to that map’s merging of the Mount Royal and Outremont ridings and changes to the boundaries of the Notre-Dame-de-Grace and D’Arcy McGee ridings, which they said resulted in urban voters having less power.
The average number of voters in each of Quebec’s provincial ridings is 49,000 but Quebec allows ridings for a deviation of up to 25 per cent. As a result, the coalition said some urban riding have more than 61,000 voters, while others in Quebec’s regions can have as few as 37,000.
“If anything can be said to be wrong, it is that a person's vote is not equal. It violates the Canadian Charter of Rights, it violates the Quebec Charter of Rights,” he said.
Wajsman said one solution would be to simply add more ridings until the map could be redrawn again.
“If you want to leave the regions at an average of 38,000, great,” he said. “Cut the urban ridings to reflect, more or less 10 per cent, which is the norm. How can we call Quebec a truly democratic jurisdiction, where Section 10 of the Quebec Charter says the equality and equity of our vote is primordial?”
The group is asking for criteria similar to what’s used in Manitoba, where ridings can only deviate up to 10 per cent from the average.
“If we use the Manitoba model, we would probably get an extra riding on the island of Montreal and the number of voters in the existing ridings would go down,” said Rotrand.