Through an Order-in-Council, former Provincial Court Justice Ernie Walter has been appointed as Chair of Alberta’s next Electoral Boundaries Review Commission. Justice Walter will be joined by four commission members (two appointed by the Premier Ed Stelmach and two appointed by Official Opposition leader David Swann). The commission will be tasked to redraw the boundaries to account for the population changes since the last boundaries review in 2002/2003. The legislation governing this commission calls for it to be appointed before July 31, 2009.
New changes, introduced by Justice Minister Alison Redford in Bill 45: Electoral Boundaries Commission Amendment Act, mandate that the commission increase the total number of Alberta’s electoral districts from 83 to 87 (in these (sic) tough economic times, one thing that we can apparently afford is more politicians).
It is suspected that the 4 MLA increase has less to do with increasing representation and more to do with preempting any increased urban-rural tension among PC MLAs. Even as many rural Alberta ridings decrease in population, its citizens have continued to benefit from being over-represented in the Legislative Assembly in comparison to citizens in Alberta’s larger urban areas (ie: 23,645 people in Dunvegan-Central Peace and 55,570 people in Edmonton-Whitemud).
Not convinced? Last year, Municipal Affairs Minister and Lac La Biche-St. Paul MLA Ray Danyluk made his position clear when he told the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties that “Representation is not all about equal representation, it’s about equitable representation.” Actually, it is about equal representation.
As a result of the 2002/2003 Electoral Boundary Review Final Report, the quickly growing City of Edmonton lost a seat in the Legislative Assembly when the Edmonton-Norwood riding was dissolved (much of the area was merged with Edmonton-Highlands to become the current Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood).