Revision of Québec's electoral map - The Commission de la représentation électorale tables a preliminary proposal that provides for major changes



    QUEBEC, March 12 /CNW Telbec/ - The Commission de la représentation
électorale (CRE) today tabled in the National Assembly its proposal for a new
electoral map for Québec. The CRE proposes a major revision of the map to
ensure greater fairness between the electoral divisions. In addition, the
Commission has endeavoured, in each of the regions, to draw the borders of the
divisions in such a way as to respect natural communities.
    In all, 86 of the 125 electoral divisions have been modified. The number
of electoral divisions in the Gaspésie, Bas-Saint-Laurent and
Chaudière-Appalaches regions has dropped from 15 to 12. Three new divisions
have been created in the rapidly growing regions of Montérégie, Laval and
Laurentides-Lanaudière. Sixteen Québec divisions have new toponyms, either
because these divisions are newly created or because their territory now
includes new communities. In tabling its preliminary report, the CRE also
announced the holding of 23 public hearings, in 21 Québec municipalities,
between April 21st and June 13th of this year.
    "We believe that Québec democracy would be much better served with the
new electoral map. Indeed, when this map is considered as a whole, it is
fairer and better corresponds to what Québec has become," indicated Marcel
Blanchet, President of the Commission de la représentation électorale.

    Unavoidable withdrawals...essential additions

    In the Gaspésie, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Chaudières-Appalaches regions, the
number of electoral divisions no longer corresponds to these regions'
demographic weight within the province and as a result, it is impossible to
maintain this number at the current level. These three regions have
11 electoral divisions out of 15 that are in an exceptional situation in
relation to the criteria of the Election Act or that are about to find
themselves in this situation.
    Consequently, the territory of the electoral division of Gaspé has been
redistributed in the neighbouring divisions of "Matane-Gaspé" and
"Bonaventure-Percé". The same is true for the electoral division of
Kamouraska-Témiscouata, which has been redistributed in
"Rivière-du-Loup-Témiscouata" and in the new electoral division of
"Côte-du-Sud". A redistribution has also been made in the case of the
electoral division of Beauce-Nord: a part is found in the new division of
"Beauce-Amiante", another part in the division of Chutes-de-la-Chaudière and a
final part in the division of Beauce-Sud.
    In the Montérégie, Laval and Laurentides-Lanaudière regions, the addition
of new electoral divisions was necessary due to the considerable increase in
the number of electors. A new electoral division, "Roussillon", has been
created in the Montérégie region from parts of its neighbours, Châteauguay and
La Prairie. Another electoral division, "Marc-Aurèle-Fortin", has been formed
on Ile-Jésus, in Laval, from parts of Fabre and Vimont. A third electoral
division, "La Plaine", has been created in the Laurentides-Lanaudière region
by combining parts of the electoral divisions of Blainville, Masson and
Rousseau.

    A map that is better balanced and that respects the administrative
    boundaries

    Not only has the CRE sought to rectify the situation of those divisions
having too many or too few electors, it has also tried to make sure that their
territory better corresponds to the boundaries of the regional county
municipalities (RCMs) or, in urban areas, to the boundaries of the boroughs.

    
    - In the Estrie and Centre-du-Québec region, there are still nine
      electoral divisions, but their boundaries have been significantly
      altered. Indeed, the Commission has rebalanced the various divisions
      and has made sure that their territories better correspond to the
      boundaries of the regional county municipalities and of the
      administrative regions.

    - In the Capitale-Nationale region, the CRE proposes including the entire
      Côte-de-Beaupré and Ile-d'Orléans in the electoral division of
      Charlevoix and renaming this division "Beaupré-Charlevoix". Other
      changes are proposed in order to adjust the boundaries of the electoral
      divisions to the limits of the municipalities and the boundaries of the
      boroughs of Québec City or to rebalance the divisions located in the
      suburbs.

    - In the northwestern part of the province, the electoral population of
      the electoral divisions of Abitibi-Ouest and Abitibi-Est has grown with
      the expansion of their territory up to the 50th parallel. Ville de
      Rouyn-Noranda is now entirely located within the electoral division of
      Rouyn-Noranda-Témiscamingue.

    - The CRE is only proposing minor changes to the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean
      region. The aim of the changes to the electoral map is notably to
      ensure better respect for the boundaries of the Ville de Saguenay.

    Regions less affected by the changes

    In some regions, the Commission de la représentation électorale has made
more modest changes, because these regions had very few electoral divisions
with too many electors, not enough electors, or that were headed toward an
exceptional situation.

    - There are very few changes proposed on the Island of Montréal, because
      its number of divisions corresponds exactly to its demographic weight.
      The proposed changes aim to ensure that the boundaries of the divisions
      better correspond to the limits of the municipalities and the
      boundaries of the boroughs located on the island.

    - In the Outaouais region, the intervention by the CRE has mainly
      affected the electoral division of Papineau, where there was a high
      number of electors close to the limit permitted under the Act, whereas
      in the Mauricie region, the CRE has focused its attention on the case
      of Laviolette, which risked having too few electors. This was also the
      case for the electoral division of René-Lévesque, in the Côte-Nord
      region, where the electoral population was low, at a level deemed
      "critical".

    Only two exceptions

    The Election Act stipulates that the electoral division of
Iles-de-la-Madeleine is an exception. The electoral division of Ungava, which
covers close to 800,000 square kilometres and whose electoral population is
well below the limit permitted under the Act, is the only other exception
recognized by the CRE.

    To ensure fairness

    The revamping of Québec's electoral map had become necessary given the
major changes that have occurred in Québec's electoral population since the
last revision of the map, in 2001. Twenty electoral divisions are in a
so-called exceptional situation, because their number of electors currently
exceeds the total of 56,509 or is below the total of 33,905. These two
numerical reference points correspond to a positive or negative deviation of
25% from the provincial average of 45,207 electors calculated according to the
rules found in the Election Act. Sixteen other electoral divisions also risk
finding themselves in an exceptional situation.
    "With the current map, some electors have a vote that has more than twice
the weight of the vote of other electors, which justified major corrective
measures. It is a question of fairness and we used the leeway provided under
the Act to ensure this fairness," stated Marcel Blanchet.
    The new electoral map rebalances the differences in the electoral
population, while considering the sociodemographic factors that guided the
Commission in its delimitation work. The CRE has thus taken into account the
density of the population, its relative rate of growth, the shape of the
regions, their accessibility, their area, natural local boundaries and the
territories of the municipalities. The sense of belonging that people have,
the way in which life is organized on the territory and the presence of
"regional poles" or communities of economic interests are also factors that
were considered.

    An invitation to comment on the CRE's proposal

    The changes made to Québec's electoral map are a proposal and the CRE
would like to hear comments from people interested in this map. To give
individuals the opportunity to express these comments, the Commission will
hold public hearings in all regions of Québec from April 21st to June 13th of
this year. It will hear individuals, organizations and Members of the National
Assembly wishing to take part in these hearings. The CRE will then carefully
analyze all of the representations made and will endeavour to take them into
account when it drafts a second report, which will be tabled in the National
Assembly.
    Individuals wishing to obtain more information about the proposal for a
new electoral map can consult the special section of the Chief Electoral
Officer's web site, which went on line today, at the following address:
www.lacartechange.qc.ca.
    
    -%SU: TER,CPN
    -%RE: 37




For further information:

For further information: Denis Dion, Information officer, (418)
644-3320, 1-888-870-3320, ddion@dgeq.qc.ca

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