QUEBEC CITY, March 17, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - In the context of the tabling in the National Assembly of the preliminary report of the Commission de la représentation électorale, its chair, Lucie Fiset, wishes to reiterate the status and mandate of the Commission and announce the phases of its work.
The status and composition of the CRE
In Québec, the process of delimitating electoral divisions is prescribed by the Election Act, and this responsibility is entrusted to the Commission de la représentation électorale (CRE). The Commission is made up of the Chief Electoral Officer, Ms. Fiset, who is its chair, and of two commissioners appointed by the National Assembly to represent Québec's qualified electors, namely Serge Courville and Bruno Jean. Vested with decision-making power, the Commission is an independent body and must carry out its mandate with neutrality and impartiality.
The mandate of the CRE concerning the delimitation of electoral divisions
On a Québec-wide basis, the CRE's mandate is to divide the territory for electoral purposes, taking into account the rules defined by the Act. At the core, a fundamental principle must guide all electoral division delimitation work: the effective representation of electors. This principle was in fact recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1991.
The first condition of effective representation lies in the equality of each elector's vote. This means that each elected representative must essentially represent the same number of electors. However, this equality can only be relative, as a combination of demographic, geographical and sociological factors must also be taken into account to ensure effective representation. Two provisions of the Election Act define these criteria.
The first stipulates that the number of electors in an electoral division must not be greater or less than 25% of the average number of electors per electoral division. As part of the current exercise, this average was established as 48,387 electors per electoral division, a result obtained by dividing the total number of electors on November 30, 2014 (6,048,383) by the total number of electoral divisions (125). This date was determined by the Commission in order to produce the preliminary report tabled today.
Deviations from the average number of electors per electoral division must be within the following ranges:
Authorized deviation below (-25%)
Average number of electors per electoral division
Authorized deviation above (+25%)
The second provision states that electoral divisions must represent natural communities established on the basis of demographic, geographical and sociological considerations. Among these, we note population density, relative growth rate, regional accessibility and configuration, natural community boundaries, and the territories of local municipalities.
Delimiting electoral divisions is a major undertaking, involving a great deal of work. In addition to preparing and filing a preliminary report, the process involves several other phases before the new electoral map is definitively established.
Phase 1: Development of a proposal by the CRE and filing a preliminary report
Immediately after the second general election following the last delimitation, the CRE must carry out a new delimitation of electoral divisions. After developing a proposal that it includes in a preliminary report, the CRE files this report with the President or Secretary General of the National Assembly within a twelve-month period following the date of the last general election.
Phase 2: Public consultation
Once the report is tabled in the National Assembly, the preliminary report must be made public, and the CRE must ensure its widest possible dissemination. Within six months after the filing of the preliminary report, the CRE must hold public hearings. The general public, MNAs and organizations wishing to make representations on the proposed electoral map will be heard. Subsequently, the preliminary report is submitted for review by the Commission de l'Assemblée nationale.
It should be noted that as of this spring the CRE plans to hold approximately ten public hearings in the regions of Québec where changes to electoral division boundaries are being proposed.
Phase 3: Preparation and filing of a new report indicating the delimitation of electoral divisions
After carefully analyzing the representations it has heard, the CRE prepares a new report disclosing the delimitation of electoral divisions in light of legislative provisions well as the criteria and principles explained above.
As with the preliminary report, the second report is tabled in the National Assembly. Within five days following the tabling, it is the subject of a National Assembly debate, whose duration is limited to five hours.
Phase 4: Final establishment of the boundaries of electoral divisions
No later than ten days after this debate, the CRE definitively establishes electoral division boundaries and assigns a name to each of them. Thereafter, the CRE publishes in the Gazette officielle du Québec the list of electoral divisions, indicating the name and boundaries of each one. This phase should be completed in early 2016. The new electoral map will enter into force upon dissolution of the National Assembly.
For further information about the Commission de la représentation électorale and the revision of the electoral map of Québec, you can consult the website at lacarte.electionsquebec.qc.ca.
Those interested can also contact our Information Centre at the following numbers:
Quebec City area: 418-528-0422
Outside Quebec City: 1-888-ELECTION (1-888-353-2846)
SOURCE Directeur général des élections
For further information: Sonia Fontaine, Information Officer, 418-644-3320 or 1-888-870-3320, firstname.lastname@example.org