Electoral Boundaries Commission Act changes introduced

ATTORNEY General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton introduced Bill 2, amendments to the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act, in the legislature on Wednesday. The bill will maintain the existing number of northern and rural electoral districts and ensure the total number of provincial electoral districts remains at 85.

British Columbia’s demographics have changed significantly since the act was first passed almost 25 years ago, and recent boundaries commissions have found it challenging to balance population growth with the need to ensure effective representation for northern and rural British Columbians.

If the amendments are passed, the independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (EBC) will continue to have the ability to recommend changes to the boundaries of all electoral districts, but it will be subject to a clear direction to preserve the existing number of electoral districts in northern and rural regions of the province.

The proposed amendments were outlined in a white paper released November 14, 2013, byAnton. The white paper was available for public comment until January 15, 2014. Government received 63 comments during that time, all of which are available for viewing online at: http://www.ag.gov.bc.ca/legislation/ebca/amend.ht

The Electoral Boundaries Commission Act requires that an independent three-member EBC be appointed within one year after every second provincial general election. The next EBC must be appointed by May 14, 2014.

Anton said: “Our aim was to strike a balance in providing effective representation while keeping the size of government the same. We are confident that we’re proposing amendments that will enhance effective representation in the provincial legislature and give clearer directions to the Electoral Boundaries Commission around preserving rural representation.”