Roundup: Ontario superballots?

One of the many challenges of Canadian democracy is our geography – especially the fact that we have so much of it. Rural and remote regions tend to have large riding boundaries, and that causes its own share of problems, particularly when you have a number or ridings larger than countries like France, and no, that’s not an exaggeration. Ontario has been in the process of redrawing their riding boundaries after the federal government did in advance of the last election – notable because Ontario largely follows the federal riding boundaries, but in the past, they split one of the giant Northern Ontario ridings into two for practical purposes. Under this new redistribution, it looks like they want to split it into four instead. Where this becomes problematic is not only the fact that it far exceeds the usual 25 percent variance in rep-by-pop weighting that the courts usually allow, but it’s being justified in giving votes to francophone and Indigenous communities in the area.

In the National Post, Chris Selley takes on this particular proposition, and makes a very good point in that we don’t have any particular basis in this country for awarding “superballots” to traditionally underserved communities as a means of reconciliation or redress. Add to that fact, that while the commission may talk a good game about better enfranchising these Indigenous communities, they traditionally have lower turnouts not only for lack of access by elections officials, but because in some of those communities, they resist taking part because they don’t see themselves as part of Canada, but as a sovereign nation within Canadian boundaries, and participating in Canadian elections would undermine that sovereignty. I’m not sure that “superballots” would change that particular consideration for them either, which could make the commission’s excuse for naught. Would that mean that in these newly created ridings that the non-Indigenous voters who do participate have their votes count that much more? Quite possibly. And while one does understand the frustration and challenges of an immense Northern riding, there are other ways to mitigate those issues, with greater allowances for offices, staff and travel considerations that the government should be ponying up for. I’m not sure that this new proposal is going to pass the Supreme Court of Canada’s smell test.

Good reads:

  • Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall has announced his plans to resign, which rids Justin Trudeau of a critic. John Geddes explains the forces at work.
  • Here are some more details about the release of that Canadian pastor from North Korea.
  • The government has received 50 proposals for their promised five superclusters.
  • The PM plans to apologise to residential school survivors in Newfoundland and Labrador, which were left out of the previous apology.
  • Paul Martin has expressed regret for his government’s role in the Omar Khadr saga.
  • The BC government announced their plans to try to stop the Kinder Morgan TransMountain expansion.
  • New collective agreements could create a renewed Phoenix pay backlog for federal civil servants.
  • The Canadian Press’ Baloney Meter™ tests why the government doesn’t declare the asylum seekers crossing the Quebec border to be “irregular arrivals.”
  • Kady O’Malley looks at the various parties’ summer fundraising pitches, and what it all means.
  • Colby Cosh plumbs the depths of Brad Wall’s popularity and reasons for retiring.

Odds and ends:

At least one Canadian diplomat in Havana appears to be suffering from what looks like an attack by a sonic weapon.