View From the Legislature

Shifting Boundaries

  • Kelvin Goertzen, Author
  • Member of the Legislative Assembly, Steinbach

With a provincial election now set for September 10th, Manitobans will begin to see signs, quite literally, of a looming election. As this election is being contested under newly drawn provincial boundaries, it will be more important than ever for voters to pay attention to those signs.

Every decade in Manitoba, electoral boundaries are redrawn for provincial elections. The purpose of the rework is to ensure that, by and large, every electoral district has roughly the same number of voters within in. This is driven by the notion that each vote should have roughly the same degree of weight as any other.

The redrawing of the election map is a non-partisan exercise. It is led by a Commission that includes leaders of our judiciary, academia and from Elections Manitoba. This independent process is significantly better than that practiced in many other countries where politicians are actively involved in the shaping of their electoral boundary. The Manitoba Boundary Commission held public hearings across the province and using that input decided upon the new boundaries late last year when they were released publicly.

New political boundaries can, of course, be unsettling for those who are elected to represent an area or who wish to run in an area. They can also be a challenge for other elected officials, like municipal councillors, who may have to work with different elected leaders at the provincial level as a result of boundary changes. Inevitably, despite the best efforts of the Boundary Commission, there are some constituencies which end up taking on difficult proportions simply because of the need to get within a certain target number of population.

And, of course, this confusion can extend to voters who may find that even though they have not moved, the constituency that they are voting in is different than what they may have voted in before. Knowing what the changes are and who the candidates are is particularly important when these changes happen.

For a growing area like the southeast, the reality is the constituencies often get smaller in size as the communities grow in population. During this election, the Steinbach Constituency will again change by becoming smaller. The communities of Kleefeld and New Bothwell will become part of the La Verendrye constituency instead of being part of the Steinbach Constituency. I have greatly enjoyed representing the residents of these communities and appreciate very much the opportunity to have made friendships and connections which I hope to maintain for many years to come.

Regardless of the area you live in, I would encourage you to visit the Elections Manitoba website for important information about the upcoming election and the new boundaries that will be in place.