This afternoon, Justice Minister Alison Redford announced the introduction of amendments to the Alberta’s elections laws in Bill 45: Electoral Boundaries Commission Amendment Act, 2009 that will allow a commission to begin the process of redrawing Alberta’s electoral boundaries earlier than scheduled. The amendments include increasing the number of electoral districts from 83 to 87. While my immediate reaction is to oppose an increase in the number of politicians in Alberta (I actually believe that we should decrease the number of MLAs in the Legislature), I am more concerned with equal representation in the Legislative Assembly.
One of the largest flaws in last Electoral Boundary Commission Review is that from the beginning, a process that should have been impartial and non-partisan quickly became politically-charged. The process inevitably became framed in rural versus urban or Conservative versus Liberal contexts due to the composition of the Commission. The membership of the 2002/2003 Electoral Boundary Commission included five political appointees – two appointed by the Premier (former MLA Glen Clegg and PC Party President-to-be Doug Graham), two nominated by the Leader of the Official Opposition (former Claresholm Mayor Ernie Patterson and former ATA President Bauni Mackay – both former Liberal candidates), and a chairperson appointed by the Cabinet* (former Social Credit MLA Bob Clark).
I have more thoughts on this topic, so you can be sure I will write more in the near future.
*The Cabinet is chaired by the Premier.
UPDATE: Duncan at Phendrana.ca has written a great post on this topic.