Don’t quit fight over electoral boundaries

What a sad example of contemporary democracy in Canada. It is more of the ruthless and undemocratic new tradition of Harper’s Conservatives.

It was just one year ago that I attended a hearing (October 2, 2012) by the Federal Election Boundaries Commission at the Best Western Hotel in Nelson. I was much relieved after I heard speaker after speaker say that the Nelson/Trail/Castlegar Southern Interior riding boundaries should be maintained. The riding encompassed a natural community area of the West Kootenay.

Surely, I thought the Boundaries Commission would listen to the excellent presentations by the Nelson mayor, by regional district representatives and many other thoughtful presenters.

But no, the commission opted to destroy this riding. It split the it completely between two ridings, South Okanagan-West Kootenay and Kootenay Columbia, both of which have large Conservative votes.

The commission may have successfully gerrymandered a fairly safe NDP riding into two possible Conservative victories.

This is clearly gerrymandering… calculated manipulation of electoral boundaries for political advantage.

What a sad example of contemporary democracy in Canada. It is more of the ruthless and undemocratic new tradition of Harper’s Conservatives.

In my view it goes along with a Conservative litany of robocall voter suppression, campaign overspending and failing to accurately report, and what now seems to be a growing list of electoral dirty tricks. The Conservatives appear to be ready to do anything they can to win, no matter how illegal, wrongheaded, or undemocratic.

Just because this riding change is legal, does not make it right. The citizens of West Kootenay spoke out almost unanimously against this change… and they were coldly ignored.

People now say “it’s a done deal, it’s too late to complain.” I disagree. I think it’s important to point out this undemocratic travesty, and not let it slip by without an outcry. That’s just what the Conservatives are hoping for.

Keith Wiley, Nelson

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