By Chris Marchand
A final report from The Far North Electoral Boundaries Commission recommends the formation of two additional far north provincial electoral districts in an effort to make political representation more manageable for both elected officials and their constituents.
Three months of consultations and information meeting transpired in communities across the north from May through July wherein the commission says the feedback produced an overwhelming consensus to further divide the current Kenora-Rainy River and Timmins-James Bay Ridings.
While Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell says the process feels a bit rushed for something that is expected to be voted on in the legislature in October, she believes the Commission has done good work.
“I’m hoping it will go a long way towards addressing the democratic deficit that exists in far northern communities,” said Campbell. “It’s obvious to people living in the north, that the geography and the sheer number of communities is challenging. In every one of those 70 communities there are mayors and chiefs and councilors. It’s a large undertaking when you look at the travel and the diversity of issues. But most importantly I think these changes will go a long way towards increasing Indigenous representation, which is something I’ve really been pushing for.”
The remaining southern portion of Kenora-Rainy River will include Dryden, Fort Frances, Kenora, and Rainy River. The population will be 53,027, 25 per cent of whom are Indigenous and two per cent of whom are francophone.
The proposed new riding, Kiwetinoong, will include Ear Falls, Red Lake, Sioux Lookout, Pickle Lake and remote First Nations communities north to Hudson’s Bay. The population will be 32,987, 68 per cent of whom are Indigenous and one per cent of whom are francophone.
A similar northern riding is also proposed to encompass the far north and James Bay coast communities north of Timmins. The Mushkegowuk riding will include a population of 32,987, 68 per cent of whom are Indigenous and one per cent of whom are francophone.