Electoral redistricting | Rebellion against mergers in Gaspésie

(Quebec) Several parliamentarians from the four parties represented in the National Assembly urged the Electoral Representation Commission on Thursday to reverse its decision to merge constituencies in the Gaspésie region.

The CAQ member for Bonaventure, Catherine Blouin, stressed that the merger of her riding with part of that of Gaspé would mean that she would find herself representing 57,000 voters while the average in Montreal is more like 50,000.

“So for us, for even more people to serve, we would have to travel seven hours in the tank. Do you find this normal? » she asked.

“Should we understand from this that a voter from Gaspésie is worth less than a voter from Montreal? I wonder,” added the MP.

“As big as a country”

The commission’s proposal would also ensure that the other part of the Gaspé constituency would be merged with that of Matane-Matapédia, which would increase its surface area.

The deputy for this new county would therefore find himself representing around fifty municipalities, estimates Maïté Blanchette Vézina, minister responsible for the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine regions. “A territory which, let’s say it, would be as big as a country,” she said.


Maïté Blanchette Vézina, Minister responsible for the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine regions

The two CAQ elected officials questioned the decline in the region’s population which justifies this electoral redistribution. However, the commission’s summary report indicates that in “the Bas-Saint-Laurent – ​​Gaspésie – Îles-de-la-Madeleine region, the low growth in the electoral population has accentuated the differences compared to the average of the constituencies for several years. decades.”

The CAQ deputy for Gaspé, Stéphane Sainte-Croix, dressed in black to mark a “worrying day for the democracy of our nation”.

“Worrying for the regions of Quebec and particularly worrying for my Gaspésie,” he said.

“Our recommendation is simple, withdraw this merger proposal for the region and favor maintaining the status quo,” added the elected official from Gaspé

“Leave Gaspésie alone!” »

Liberal MP Enrico Ciccone – who represents Marquette, in the Montreal region – also came to the region’s defense. “I would like you to receive everything we have to tell you today and everything that was said before, during the hearings, as a cry from the heart,” he said.


Enrico Ciccone, liberal MP from Marquette

“I ask you to step back. […] Leave Gaspésie alone! » added Mr. Ciccone.

The PQ MP for Matane-Matapédia, Pascal Bérubé, and the solidarity MP for Jean-Lesage, Sol Zanetti, reaffirmed their proposal to increase the number of Quebec MPs from 125 to 129.

“A mine of information”

Faced with the concert of criticism, the members of the commission present for the study of their preliminary report assured that they had an open mind and that all arguments would be taken into consideration.

“Since submitting the preliminary report in September 2023, we have collected a wealth of information which will allow us to deepen our reflection on our proposal for our second report,” indicated the president of the commission, Jean-François Blanchet.

The study of the preliminary report of the Electoral Representation Commission ended Thursday. Its second report should be tabled in the fall.

The map is revised so that the number of voters in a constituency is neither higher nor lower than 25% of a quotient of an average determined at 50,694 voters. Only one exception: the constituency of Îles-de-la-Madeleine, protected in law. The law provides, however, that the commission can deviate from the rule with a reasoned decision.

The revision project presented in September by the Commission on Electoral Representation notably eliminates two constituencies, due to the drop in the number of voters: part of Bonaventure would be merged with Gaspé, and in the east of Montreal, Rosemont and Anjou–Louis-Riel would become a single riding, Rosemont-Louis-Riel.

On the other hand, two other constituencies would see the light of day: Marie-Lacoste-Gérin-Lajoie, in Centre-du-Québec, and Bellefeuille, in the Laurentians.

The commission determines electoral district boundaries based on “demographic, geographic and sociological considerations, such as population density, relative rate of population growth, accessibility, area and configuration of the region, the natural boundaries of the environment, as well as the boundaries of the municipalities,” provides the legislative text.

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