Adam Radwanski, The Globe and Mail
One of the candidates for the Ontario Liberal leadership is proposing a new system for setting provincial electoral boundaries that would give much more power to the Greater Toronto Area, at the expense of under-populated rural ridings.
According to his campaign officials, former government services minister Harinder Takhar is calling for the province to stop mirroring federal districts, as it has since the 1990s. He would give an independent “Ontario boundary commission” the task of drawing a new map that would provide something closer to “true representation by population.”
f it were to gain steam, the proposal could play to both the Liberals’ strengths and weaknesses. It would increase the number of seats in the fast-growing “905 belt,” which the governing party nearly swept last election. But it would also further alienate rural and small-town regions, making it harder for them to rebuild in areas where they were virtually wiped out.
Although Mr. Takhar is seen to have little chance of winning Premier Dalton McGuinty’s job at the Liberals’ convention later this month, his policy proposals are drawing attention from other candidates who will be looking for second-choice support from his delegates. And reactions from the two perceived leadership front-runners were indicative of significantly different perspectives on the urban-rural balance.
Sandra Pupatello, a former Windsor MPP who has made much of being the only candidate from outside the GTA, was lukewarm at best. “It is essential that we acknowledge the growth of our population in urban and suburban areas, but not at the expense of the democratic rights of our rural and northern regions,” she said through a spokesperson.
In an interview, Kathleen Wynne – who appears to have considerable provincewide support, but is strongest in her hometown of Toronto – was more open to what she called “an interesting idea.” While acknowledging that both rural sensitivities and the cost of adding new constituencies would have to be taken into account, Ms. Wynne said it “makes a lot of sense” to strive for more equal representation. Read article