Westman MPs satisfied with riding proposal
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Both of Westman’s Conservative MPs say they are satisfied with the final proposal made by the federal electoral commission for Manitoba, which was tasked with modifying the constituency boundaries across the province.
Earlier this year, the three-person commission — including Brandon University political science professor Kelly Saunders — began evaluating the borders of Manitoba’s federal political ridings.
Unlike some other provinces, Manitoba’s number of seats in the House of Commons was to remain the same, but the boundaries of the province’s 14 existing ridings still needed to be tweaked to account for population changes noted in the most recent census.
In the commission’s first draft, proposals were made for both of Westman’s ridings — Dauphin–Swan River–Neepawa and Brandon–Souris — that drew criticism from community leaders and elected representatives.
The Town of Virden and Sioux Valley Dakota Nation were to be moved to Dauphin–Swan River–Neepawa, the RM of Wallace–Woodworth was to be split between the two boundaries and parts of the Swan Valley area was to join the northernmost riding of Churchill–Keewatinook Aski.
After receiving feedback through written submissions and at a public hearing in Brandon, most of the changes have been reconsidered, leaving only slight tweaks to the two ridings’ borders.
Additionally, the commission accepted a suggestion to rename Dauphin–Swan River–Neepawa as Riding Mountain in honour of the national park located within the constituency.
Speaking to the Sun by phone on Monday, Dauphin–Swan River–Neepawa MP Dan Mazier said the new name was an idea brought forward by a constituent that he believed was worth supporting.
With more than 200 communities in the riding, Mazier said it made more sense to name it after “a gem right smack-dab in the middle” rather than after just three communities.
In his jurisdiction, Mazier explained, much of the concern related to proposed changes in the north.
“In that top corner, there was Benito and there was Bowsman that were cut out into [Churchill–Keewatinook Aski], so that was the biggest concern,” Mazier said. “They really are part of the Swan River valley, and I really do thank the commission for paying attention to their voices. It worked out good for them.”
First elected in 2019, this was Mazier’s first time participating in the redistribution effort. He said it was interesting to get an inside look at this aspect of Canadian democracy and what is done to keep ridings equal in terms of population.
“It does create some very unique challenges, especially for rural and remote areas like Swan River,” he said. “They do account for things like topography and trading areas, which is really good to see.”
Brandon–Souris MP Larry Maguire was optimistic about the final proposal.
“I’m pleased that Wallace municipality and the towns in it are part of Brandon–Souris still,” he said. “They’ve been with Brandon–Souris for 126 years, historically … we will go a little further east in our areas if the boundaries stay on these second maps that have come out.”
He said he was glad the commission considered regional and historical ties in its decision.
Now that the final report has been tabled, members of Parliament can voice objections to the proposal until March.
In April, the commission will start to consider any objections before the final representation order is voted on in Parliament next September.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark