Thursday, July 12, 2012

THE LABRADOR RIDING: A SACRED COW

In a democracy, one expects that the principle of one vote per person would provide equality. All of our input should be treated on an equal basis.  What does One person = One vote really mean?

 In this province (as in others), we have provincial and federal electoral districts that are greatly outside of any reasonable quotant for fairness. It is not a black and white issue.

The most populous region of the province continues to be underrepresented, while the hemorrhaging rural areas cling to more seats than they might reasonably be entitled too. Big deal, not a big deal?

Case in point, Labrador, the big land! The region is not a territory, it does not have any special governmental status, yet it continues to have it's own seat in the House of Commons.  No one here seems to mind. In fact, while submission after submission in past redistribution hearings has requested changes to the boundaries on the island, there has been no clamor for change in Labrador.  We are too polite to demand change, or perhaps allowing such a distortion underscores our demand for more say in Ottawa, despite our small population.

The Labrador seat was created, in no small part, through the dogged determination of Bill Rompkey. Up until 1988,  Labrador was part of a riding that contained northern sections of the island of Newfoundland. Since that time, the population has contracted but the riding has remain unchanged. In fact, it is the only federal riding in this province thats boundaries are not up for discussion.

This, despite the fact that the population has dropped by 4 % since 2001. Even the sprawling riding of Nunavut has 5,000 voters more than Labrador!

What gives? What justifies this unique situation? Why does Labrador continue to have the smallest population of any federal riding in the country, while the population has increased on the Avalon. It is a cared cow that deserves a closer examination.

Perhaps it is time to have another look at Labrador's coveted seat and restore some balance to our individual voting power.




2 comments:

Jay L said...

Legit question: is there a point where the sheer physical size of a riding outweighs the lack of population? I can't imagine very many ridings cover more ground than Labrador, with a more spread out population...

A quick glance tells me Nunavut and NWT are bigger, but I think that's it. Oh wait - northern Quebec, whatever that's called. So, 3 bigger than Lab.

Anonymous said...

Nunavut is the largest federal riding. It is 2,093,190 square kilometers in size. It spans three time zones and stretches from the North Pole to the shores of Ontario's James Bay.

Nearly half the Labrador riding’s residents live in the extreme southwest corner, in Labrador City and Wabush. The Trans-Labrador Highway links those towns to Churchill Falls, a massive hydroelectric project, and to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which is home to an air force base. There are communities on the north coast and on the south coast. It is the big land but the population is very serviceable. Random - Burin -St.George's may be harder to cover. Just as many isolated towns (if not more) and harder to access.