News: New provincial riding for city

Published in the June 25 2010 issue of The Edmonton Sun. News

New provincial riding for city

The final report by the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission released Thursday reveals that Edmonton will get one new riding in the next election.

Two new ridings will go to Calgary while one more will be created to represent the rest of Alberta.

This brings the number of MLAs in Calgary to 25, in Edmonton to 19 and to 43 in the rest of Alberta, up to a provincial total of 87.

The recommendations are clouded in controversy with critics claiming it was widely influenced by Conservative members, reflecting boundary adjustments in favour of the Tory government.

“To have two cabinet ministers go to the boundary commission and present the government position, not a Tory caucus position, not a partisan position, but the government position,” Alberta Liberal deputy leader Laurie Blakeman told reporters Thursday.

“How could you not be influenced by having the government come forward and present what they would like?”

But MLA and deputy premier Doug Horner says his submission to the committee did reflect the caucus.

“We presented it on the basis of what our caucus was doing,” Horner said.

“You couldn’t draw a map with the stuff I gave, we just said here are the concerns we heard from our constituents.”

Paul Hinman with the Wildrose Alliance says the new division tampers with his riding of Calgary-Glenmore by taking away its natural boundaries and he adds that the Tory submission was an attempt to maintain, if not gain, political power.

“The partisan hand is obvious,” Hinman said. “It’s pathetic that the PC government is more concerned about power and control than they are (about) representing the people of Alberta.”

However, commission chair Judge Ernest Walter insists their decisions were not influenced by the government.

Commission member Peter Dobbie said that after reviewing more than 500 submissions and presentations from individuals and groups regarding the proposed divisions, the Tory submission was given the same weight, if not less, than that of “disinterested” or “non-politically based submissions.”

The final document also lists issues for future consideration, particularly that the Legislative Assembly “needs to seriously consider how the urban/rural perspectives will be addressed in the future.”

The city’s new riding, Edmonton-Southwest, takes parts of the current Edmonton- Whitemud and Edmonton- McClung ridings and extends west to 215 Street and south to 41 Avenue.

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