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Municipalities band together to oppose federal boundary changes

Greater Sudbury area municipalities have joined various other jurisdictions and elected official in opposing proposed changes to Northern Ontario’s federal ridings
The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission is proposing to cut the number of Northern Ontario ridings from 10 to nine, and reconfigure both the Sudbury and Nickel Belt ridings.

The Sudbury East Municipal Association’s membership has unanimously approved a resolution opposing a proposed changes to federal electoral boundaries.

Members of the organization stated, “reducing the number of members of Parliament in the north will diminish Northern Ontario’s voice in Parliament and will have detrimental effects on participatory democracy and regional development,” according to a release issued by the organization.

“Issues in Northern Ontario are quite unique and different from those in Southern Ontario.”

SEMA is comprised of the municipalities of West Nipissing, French River, Killarney, Markstay-Warren, and St. Charles.

All members of SEMA are currently in the Nickel Belt federal riding, which would become Manitoulin-Nickel Belt under the proposed changes. It would technically no longer be a belt around the Sudbury riding. The riding would stretch from the U.S. border east to encompass Manitoulin Island and the French River region as far east as Noelville, as well as Espanola and Elliot Lake. The northern border of the riding would extend from west of Biscotasi Lake Provincial Park to Obabika River Provincial Provincial Park. 

The Sudbury riding would keep its name, but grow to encompass Coniston and Wahnapitae nearly as far east as Stinson, and would grow to the north to include Capreol, Garson, Falconbridge and the Greater Sudbury Airport.

Northern Ontario at large would wind up losing one riding. A map of the proposed changes is available by clicking here.

The region’s collection of 10 MPs came out against the proposed changes, which Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré said he was “gravely concerned” about.

Greater Sudbury city council was near-unanimous in pushing against the proposed changes earlier this month, minus a lone “no” vote from Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnin, who abstained from voting without explanation. Included in their direction was a motion by Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann for the city to publicly advertise how residents can speak against the proposed changes, which the city has subsequently done.

“By removing St. Charles, Markstay-Warren and West Nipissing, Sudbury East and SEMA will lose a large portion of its francophone population to areas that are mainly anglophone,” SEMA said in their media release. 

“SEMA is requesting that the Electoral Boundary Commission not reduce the number of MPs and that it recognizes its identity and historical patterns of their electoral district.”

SEMA is also pushing for greater public consultation, particularly since only one in-person meeting is currently scheduled for Northern Ontario, to be held in TImmins. They requested an additional in-person meeting to be held in Sudbury.