Revision of Québec's electoral map - The second report of the Commission de la représentation électorale is tabled at the Assembly National of Québec

September 20, 2011

 

Quebec City, September 20, 2011 – Jacques Drouin, Chairman of the Commission de la représentation électorale (CRE) and  Chief Electoral Officer of Québec,  has  confirmed that the revised proposal for establishing the boundaries of Québec’s electoral divisions was tabled today at the National Assembly of Québec. The tabling constitutes one of the stages stipulated in the Election Act toward the adopting of a new electoral map. The document represents a reviewed and improved version of the preliminary report released in March 2008. It takes into account observations made by Québec’s electors, MNAs and municipal elected officials during the 24 public hearings held during the spring of 2008 and before the National Assembly committee in September 2010.
 
The report to be tabled today is dated November 11, 2010, i.e. when the Commission de la représentation électorale was legally constituted. Since then, one of its three members has left the CRE and has not yet been replaced by the National Assembly. As such, the Commission has been rendered incompetent to adopt the electoral map. However, the situation does not prevent the Assembly from hearing the second CRE report and holding the five-hour debate stipulated by the Election Act.
 
The draft electoral map drawn up by the CRE will replace the version adopted in 2001 and used in the general elections of 2003, 2007 and 2008.The addition of approximately a half million new electors in the last ten years, especially on the periphery of Montreal, as well as population movements throughout Québec, have resulted in a number of inequalities of representation that must be corrected before the next general election. At the present time, 30 or so of the 125 electoral divisions no longer respect the numerical criterion of plus or minus 25% stipulated in the Election Act in order to guarantee a relative equality of the votes cast in a given election. Moreover, as the Commission clearly realized during the public hearings, the electoral map must be adapted to the evolution of natural communities, while taking into account, as much as possible, the increased importance of regional county municipalities (RCMs) in the management of Québec’s territory.
 
We must not forget that since 2008 a certain number of legislative milestones have marked the process undertaken to provide a new electoral map for Québec, among them the adoption, in November 2010, of the Act to suspendthe electoral divisiondelimitation process , as well as bills 78, 92, and 19, which the National Assembly did not ultimately adopt.
 
 
 
Revised proposal for the electoral map
 
The CRE’s preliminary report proposed changes to the boundaries of 86 of Québec’s electoral divisions. In several cases, the 2008 proposal has been adjusted in response to the numerous observations and suggestions made during the public hearings. Some of these adjustments are minor, while others are more substantial; or they may simply involve a return to the status quo. The result is that the boundaries of 86 of Québec’s electoral divisions will still be modified, but not necessarily the same ones as in the 2008 proposal.
 
The Commission has added three electoral divisions in Montérégie, Laurentides-Lanaudière and Laval, all regions experiencing rapid demographic growth, thus correcting, to a large degree, situations of under-representation apparent in all three. Moreover, given the context of electoral over-representation still characterizing the Gaspésie, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Chaudière-Appalaches regions, the CRE has maintained the position of the preliminary report recommending the withdrawal of three electoral divisions from these regions. The Commission recognizes that this represents a major change, but considers that it is required in areas where inequalities in representation have become accentuated over the years.
 
The position of the Commission as regards exceptional electoral divisions has changed as well. It is well known that the electoral division of Îles-de-la-Madeleine benefits from a special status recognized under the Election Act. The 2008 report also recognized a special status for the electoral division of Ungava. In its second report, the CRE grants the same status to the electoral divisions of Abitibi-Est and Gaspé, while noting that, in light of the most recent data, the electoral divisions of Abitibi-Ouest and René-Lévesque have shifted to the side of the exceptional negative exceptions based on the numerical criterion provided in the Act.  Concerning the Gaspé, a new delimitation of the region’s electoral divisions will, on the whole, better respect natural communities, as well as the boundaries of its regional county municipalities. With its new boundaries, however, the Gaspé electoral division will be in a situation of over-representation exceeding the numerical criterion stipulated under the Act (-31.3%). The CRE has chosen to recognize the situation and to create an exception so that Gaspésie will have, on the whole, an electoral representation that more closely corresponds to the concerns expressed during the public hearings.
 
A few other changes characterizing the revised proposal
 
Here are a few more examples of changes made by the CRE to its preliminary report of 2008:
 
        Concerning Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the Commission has abandoned the idea of extending certainelectoral divisions to the 50th parallel, thus recognizing the importance of respecting the natural community corresponding to the Nord-du-Québec administrative region. As such, the electoral division of Ungava will, for all intents and purposes, recover its current boundaries;
 
        As regards Chaudière-Appalaches, the Beauce will recover its two electoral divisions, while Lotbinière and Frontenac will merge to become the electoral division of  Lotbinière-Frontenac;
 
        Concerning Estrie and Centre-du-Québec, the Commission has adjusted its proposal in an attempt tobetter respect natural communities. For instance, the electoral division of Orford has recovered its name and its mountain;
 
        As regards Laurentides-Lanaudière, the CRE has withdrawn its proposal for a new electoral division of La Plaine, and L’Assomption is no longer divided in two. The new electoral division of Repentigny has instead been created in and around the municipality of the same name;
 
        Concerning Laval, the new electoral division has been called Sainte-Rose instead of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin. Moreover, the delimitation of the island’s electoral divisions has been directly based on the administrative sectors of the City of Laval;
 
        As regards Montérégie, the new electoral division that was at first supposed to be called Roussillon, then Lignery, will finally be called Sanguinet, as suggested during the public hearings.
 
When will the new electoral map come into effect?
 
In the five days following its tabling, the Commission’s report will be subject to a National Assembly debate lasting no more than five hours. In the ten days following the debate, the CRE will, in accordance with its decision-making power, definitively establish the boundaries of Québec’s electoral divisions. Should a third commission member not be sworn in before the five-hour debate, the ten-day time period would not begin until the day the new member is in fact sworn in. Next, the list and description of the electoral divisions will be published in the Gazette officielle du Québec.
 
Lastly, it should be pointed out that the new electoral map will come into effect upon dissolution of the National Assembly for the holding of a general election, unless this occurs within the three months following the publication of the list of electoral divisions in the Gazette officielle du Québec.
 
For the moment, those wishing to peruse the report concerning Québec’s new electoral map may do so by visiting the website of the Chief Electoral Officer at www.electionsquebec.qc.ca. A free copy of the report is also available by calling the information centre of the office of the Chief Electoral Officer at 1- 888-ELECTION.
 
 
 
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Categories : 2011 electoral map, Provincial, CRE, 2011 electoral map