Proposed Changes to Electoral Map Harm Montreal Region

Proposed changes to electoral map harm Montreal region

As the National Assembly considers Bill 19, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal would like to restate its opposition to the entrenchment of Montreal’s electoral under-representation in Quebec politics.

We are asking all elected officials to vote against Bill 19 in order to respect the Greater Montreal region and its voters, and thereby avoid establishing a dangerous precedent for our democratic system.

The Montreal metropolitan region represents more than 50 per cent of the Quebec population. Yet it has only 54 of the province’s 125 electoral districts, or 42 per cent of the total. This is unacceptable, and disrespectful to the city’s citizens and taxpayers. Bill 19 does nothing to remedy this situation, and instead proposes maintaining the number of electoral districts in the regions outside of Montreal, with no consideration for the number of voters living there. This would only weaken the electoral representation of greater Montreal.

A reasonable and fair solution would be to create three new electoral districts in the metropolitan region, where population growth has taken place, and to eliminate three districts outside of the Montreal region.

Bill 19 simply proposes adding three new districts to the 125 existing ones. We should note that the Ontario legislature has 107 elected officials for a population 50 per cent larger than that of Quebec. Quebec has sufficient parliamentary representation as it is.

Redrawing the electoral map should not involve the addition of new electoral districts, but rather redistribution based on expert analysis that takes into account the demographic evolution of Quebec. After all, the island of Montreal has already lost electoral districts to reflect population movements; why change practices now?

The proposed changes to the electoral map reflect the larger reality of how the government is generally not very politically responsive to the needs of the Montreal region. But there are also legal considerations.

For if passed by the National Assembly, Bill 19 would raise important constitutional questions. Stéphane Beaulac, a constitutional law expert and professor at Université de Montréal’s faculty of law, has told the Board of Trade that Bill 19 embodies “violations of the constitutional guarantees of democratic rights.” How is this so? It is not the regions of Quebec that have a democratic right to representation in the National Assembly. That right is held by the voters of Quebec. Voters in the Montreal metropolitan region are full citizens of Quebec, and their electoral weight must reflect this reality. A vote in Montreal, in Longueuil, in Laval, or in Ste. Thérèse should carry the same democratic weight as a vote in the other regions.

We assume that all the elected members of the National Assembly from the Montreal area, no matter their party affiliation, will care about defending our collective right to fair democratic representation. It is their duty!

Ce contenu a été mis à jour le 2 août 2016 à 12 h 56 min.