Almost a week after we all got a peek at the new provincial electoral boundaries, things have settled down in some areas and the insanity has exploded in others.
Over on the political side, things have largely settled down. The Liberals, for example have a raft of nominations to re-run but there’s no sign of any significant problems. Sure, there are pissed off people, but in the long run things should work out.
On the west coast, every incumbent or nominated candidate should be able to find a home. Your humble e-scribbler made a mistake on Monday: there are actually enough seats in the new configuration for Gerry Byrne, Stelman Flynn, and Ed Joyce to find a spot.
Jim Bennett is doing the smart thing and looking for a seat without a Liberal incumbent where there’s a good chance he could win. He’s looking at Terra Nova, according to media reports, and the current Conservative incumbent - Sandy Collins - is eyeing Gander. Ditto Jeff Marshall, who has decided to run in Ferryland district now that the old Kilbride district is gone.
Apparently Ross Wiseman is having another run at things so he now wants Terra Nova. The proposed Terra Nova district is a conglomeration of what used to be Wiseman’s district plus a sizeable chunk of what used to be in the Terra Nova district.
The New Democrats have some shuffling around to do in the metro St. John’s seats. The only one who likely won’t have to make any decision is Gerry Rodgers in St. John’s Centre. The new configuration for that district adds some elements to the west end of it, but for the most part it should be familiar territory.
That’s the practical political stuff that has settled down. All the parties will have to form new district associations, handle the cash the district associations have raised, and do all those internal things but they affect every party equally.
And that’s really it: all the parties are affected equally by the redistribution. No one particular gains and no one really loses. That’s largely a result of the way the five member commission tackled the task. They took a clean sheet of paper and started dividing the island up into packets of roughly equal numerical size.
The only district that wound up *not* being significantly different from the rest is Fortune Bay Cape La Hune. It’s exactly the size and shape it used to be. As a result, the district holds about half the population of a typical district on the Avalon peninsula, but the physical size of the district is 1,500 times greater.
The non-political reaction to the new districts has been nutty bordering on the insane. Marystown mayor Sam Synyard is upset because his town will now be partly in one district and partly in another. The result is that the town will have two representatives in the House instead of one.
Double the representation and Sam’s bitching. Work that out with a pencil. While you are at it, see if you can figure out the problem in Corner Brook. Corner Brook mayor Charles Pender is bitching even though the city will have roughly the same representation in the House it has now.
The only one who might have a gripe is the mayor of Stephenville. The town will now have one member in the House of Assembly instead of two. Might have a gripe, but not much of a case. Representation in the House of Assembly is based on population. With fewer seats in the House, it only stands to reason there’d be some loss of representation. At the same time, though, the way the seats are distributed, the people of the province who live on the island of Newfoundland represented fairly in the House. No one is under-represented or over-represented on the island, with the exception of the crowd in Fortune Bay-Cape La Hune.
Of course, none of what those mayors are saying deals with the substantive problems with the recent re-districting:
First, politicians decided among themselves and without public consultation to arbitrarily reduce public representation in the House.
Second, they cut a political deal to leave untouched the four seats in Labrador. There was no good reason to do it. They just did it because they could. The result is that overall, the people of the province are not fairly represented. People in Labrador enjoy a disproportionately greater voting power than people on the island.
Unfortunately, the politicians don’t care about that, nor do the people of the province. The ones that are up in arms – like the three mayors - are up in arms because they get too much representation, not enough representation, or just the right amount of representation.