November 10, 2006

Commission recommends 23 MLAs

Four seats for Iqaluit; map redrawn for Kivalliq, east Kitikmeot, south Baffin and Amittuq

JIM BELL

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
If MLAs say yes, this is how Nunavutís electoral map would look before the next territorial election. (SOURCE: FINAL REPORT OF NUNAVUT ELECTORAL BOUNDARIES COMMISSION)

When Nunavummiut go to the polls in the next territorial election, we’ll likely elect a 23-seat legislative assembly from an electoral jigsaw puzzle that will fit together much differently than now.

But that’s only if our current group of MLAs say yes to the Nunavut Electoral Boundaries Commission and its proposed solution to the vexing problem of how to arrange Nunavut’s far-flung communities into workable electoral districts.

Justice Beverly Browne, the chairperson, issued the commission’s final report this past Monday.

The next step will be a bill put before the legislative assembly that would take the commission’s report into account.

Since MLAs would be free to make amendments to that electoral boundaries bill, the commission’s report isn’t cast in stone.

The Nunavut legislative assembly created the commission in March, under the terms of the Nunavut Elections Act. Browne and the other two members, John Ningark and Bernadette Niviatsiak, toured Nunavut between May and September.

In some communities, such as Repulse Bay and Igloolik, no one showed up to attend public consultations. In many other consultations, turnouts were poor. But in a few places, such as Resolute Bay and Taloyoak, residents came out with well-prepared submissions.

The commission members now recommend that the next electoral boundaries commission get more time to do their work and more time to do advance research on population numbers.

They also say the commission’s mandate should be created in the fall so they can visit communities in the winter months — when residents are more likely to be at home than in the May-September period.

Their final report, now in the hands of MLAs and others, found that many residents of small communities, especially those who share an MLA with other places, want their own single-community electoral districts.

The commission, however, found many small communities just don’t have enough people to justify giving them a member of their own.

That’s because one of the factors the commission had to consider is the principle of representation by population: electoral districts may not contain too few, or too many, eligible voters.

But they also considered culture, geography, and various community interests.

And despite the dream of some Nunavut leaders to weaken identification with Nunavut’s three administrative regions, the commission rejected the idea of creating electoral districts that straddle more than one region, such as Akulliq.

But the commission did recommend re-drawing the boundaries of several districts to better group communities with shared cultures and interests.

Those proposed changes include:

Iqaluit, Kimmirut and Cape Dorset

Option 1: Pair Kimmirut with a fourth district in Iqaluit called Iqaluit South — comprising Apex, Tundra Valley and most of the Lake subdivision— to create a new seat called Iqaluit South-Kimmirut.

That’s because some Kimmirut residents said they don’t like being grouped with Cape Dorset and suggested they be paired with Apex. Some Apex residents also said they want to be paired with Kimmirut.

The other three Iqaluit districts would be chopped up and renamed. They are:

At the same time, Cape Dorset would become a single-community electoral district called Kingait.

Option2: Leave Iqaluit with three MLAs, but have them elected at large by all voters, and leave Kimmirut paired with Cape Dorset.

Option 3: Create four districts in Iqaluit and leave Kimmirut paired with Cape Dorset.

Eastern Kitikmeot

Kivalliq

Amittuq

Unchanged districts

 

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