Submission to the Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario in the matter of the Commission’s Recommendation regarding the Federal Electoral District of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke – Cheryl Gallant, MP
As the Federal Member of Parliament for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, thank-you to the members of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission of Ontario for your efforts on behalf of the democratic process and the people of Canada and the opportunity to appear before you.
I am here today to recommend the Commission retain the current Riding name Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke rather than the proposed shortened name Renfrew-Pembroke. The Commission proposal to drop Nipissing from the Riding name should be withdrawn.
As the Member of Parliament for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke for the past twelve years and five elections, I am pleased that no boundary changes are being proposed for my Riding. This makes absolute sense as the slight population variance from the Provincial quota, 3.46%, made your job easier compared to other parts of Ontario when it came to determining the electoral boundary for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke. Unlike Ridings in northern Ontario, which have experienced population decreases, or southern Ontario, with large population increases, Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke enjoys a stable population in keeping with the provincial average.
It makes absolute sense to retain the current name Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke in keeping with the decision to retain the current Riding Boundaries.
That portion of Nipissing District, which is comprised of the recently municipally amalgamated community of South Algonquin, and relatively unpopulated sections of Algonquin Provincial Park, have a long, geographic, as well as historic community of interest with Renfrew County. It made complete sense to include that part of Nipissing District with Renfrew County for electoral purposes.
The Nipissing portion of the Riding should continue to be recognized in our Riding name.
It is of interest to note that in the last federal election, one of the election candidates, while physically living in that portion of Nipissing District in the current Riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming, chose to run in the Riding of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke. Highway 60 is the only highway and principal transportation route in South Algonquin. It runs east-west, from the boundary of Algonquin Park to the east, west to the Renfrew County and the community of Barry’s Bay. Nipissing’s isolation from other parts of the District is due to the absence of any direct transportation routes, long distance from other parts of the district as well as the presence of Algonquin Park physically separating north from south Nipissing district. Community of Interest arguments further suggest South Algonquin should be separated from Nipissing District and joined to Renfrew County.
This has not occurred as a consequence of current ties that bind Nipissing District together, including provincial ‘northern status’ designation. That status recognizes the unique challenges of northern Ontario, including distances between communities, a resource based economy and the challenge of providing services to a sparse population. Renfrew County is uniquely Renfrew County as South Algonquin is in the District of Nipissing.
The next point I would like to raise is one of practicality. Changing the Riding name makes no sense when the boundaries are not changing from a cost consideration. Taxpayers expect the federal government to be frugal with their dollars. With the existing boundaries remaining intact, the financial cost of changing every reference, disposing of letterhead, business cards, paying someone to change websites, is not justified. While some may argue this is the cost of democracy in Canada, others in the political process argue we spend too much on Parliament and the actual cost of representation, including the current process to increase the number of MPs in Ottawa. Reasonable cost saving should be considered and I ask that this consideration be made in retaining the Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke Riding name. Thank-you.