Part I – Initial Report to the House of Commons (November 15, 2012) – Newfoundland and Labrador – Boundary Proposals and Reasons

In accordance with the Act, the Commission had to consider readjustment of electoral boundaries consequential upon the 2011 decennial census and to propose boundaries which met the statutory and constitutional requirements. The boundaries proposed by the Commission and the Commission's rationale for the same were gazetted on May 26, 2012 (the Proposal). As explained, the Commission felt it had to address three obvious issues: Labrador, the large population increase in the northeast Avalon region, and the anomalies associated with the south coast district.

An overview of the Proposal is now presented before discussion of representations received in respect of it and determination of possible revisions.

Having considered the decennial census and the variances from the electoral quota, as summarized in Table 1 and Table 2 above, the Proposal initially addressed whether there were "extraordinary circumstances" as contemplated by section 15 of the Act that would warrant an electoral district whose population was outside the ± factor of 25 percent of the electoral quota.

For the past 25 years the Labrador portion of the Province constituted a separate electoral district even though its population was more than 25 percent below the electoral quota. The continuance of that electoral district would clearly have a significant effect upon the populations of other electoral districts. The Proposal addressed the matter as follows:

The 2011 decennial census found the population of the Labrador electoral district to be 26,728. That population is widely dispersed over an extensive land mass, which continues to pose serious transportation challenges for its residents and elected representatives. Residents of that electoral district, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, and whether residing in small coastal communities, in or near the major service centre in Upper Lake Melville or in the major natural resource development towns of Labrador West, are all known to assert the existence of a shared community of interest.

Having regard to its history, geography, community of interest and the strength of its distinct Aboriginal communities, the Commission views the circumstances of the Labrador portion of the Province as being extraordinary and as warranting the continuance of a separate electoral district. (2–3)

The Commission next considered the remaining six electoral districts, recognizing that continuance of the Labrador electoral district would necessarily result in higher populations in some or all of these six electoral districts. To address that issue the Commission found it useful to calculate an electoral quota for those six districts as follows: 514,536 − 26,728 (Labrador) = 487,808 ÷ 6 = 81,301. Consideration of that quota (the reference quota) assisted the Commission in addressing the application of the statutory guidelines in section 15 of the Act to those electoral districts. The variances from the reference quota for those existing six electoral districts, as determined using the decennial census, are shown in Table 3.

Table 3
Variances from the Reference Quota (81,301)
Electoral District Population 2011 Variance
from 81,301
Avalon
78,908
−2.9%
Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor
84,735
+4.2%
Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte
71,563
−12.0%
Random—Burin—St. George's
69,192
−14.9%
St. John's East
100,559
+23.7%
St. John's South—Mount Pearl
82,851
+1.9%

In its Proposal the Commission stated:

Recognizing the principal criterion of relative parity of voting power, the Commission also considered many factors pertaining to the concepts of community of interest or identity, historical patterns and manageable geographic size. These included:

  • transportation links;
  • access to government services and commercial, social and recreational amenities;
  • existing municipal boundaries and the boundaries of regional planning or economic development areas;
  • population trends;
  • the desirability of minimizing changes to existing electoral boundaries. (4)

The Proposal noted that the population of the Avalon Peninsula had continued to grow. As of the census date, 262,318 people resided in the electoral districts on the Avalon Peninsula and 225,490 in the other three electoral districts on the island portion of the Province. That suggested the need for boundary adjustments to promote voter parity, logically, the inclusion of the western part of the Avalon Peninsula in the district to the west. Furthermore, the electoral districts of Humber—St. Barbe—Baie Verte and Random—Burin—St. George's were the least populated on the island portion of the Province. The latter district was observed to be "somewhat anomalous as there are no highway, air or scheduled ferry links between the eastern and western portions of that district" (4).

Significant changes were proposed to five of the six electoral districts on the island portion of the Province. To summarize:

  • The entirety of the west coast and the south coast west of Francois would comprise the electoral district of Long Range Mountains, with a population of 87,592.
  • The Baie Verte Peninsula and the south coast area of Bay d'Espoir and the Connaigre Peninsula would be included in an electoral district generally encompassing central Newfoundland. This proposed district of Bay d'Espoir—Central—Notre Dame would have a census population of 78,911.
  • The Burin Peninsula, Clarenville-Random area, Bonavista North, Bonavista South, and the western Avalon including Long Harbour, Trinity South and Conception Bay north of Salmon Cove would constitute the electoral district of Bonavista—Burin—Trinity, with a census population of 75,336.
  • The electoral district of Avalon would lose part of its western portion as noted and would expand to the east to include all of the Town of Conception Bay South and part of the Town of Paradise. Its census population would be 80,056.
  • The electoral district of St. John's East would be renamed St. John's North, with its boundaries adjusted to reflect the changes in respect of the towns of Conception Bay South and Paradise. Its census population would be 83,062.
  • The electoral district of St. John's South—Mount Pearl, with a census population of 82,851, would be unchanged.

The proposed changes would result in variances of ±8 percent from the reference quota for the six electoral districts on the island portion of the Province. Table 4 illustrates the above.

Table 4
Variances from the Reference Quota (81,301)
Proposed Island Electoral District Population
2011
Variance
from 81,301
Avalon
80,056
−1.5%
Bay d'Espoir—Central—Notre Dame
78,911
−2.9%
Bonavista—Burin—Trinity
75,336
−7.3%
Long Range Mountains
87,592
+7.7%
St. John's North
83,062
+2.2%
St. John's South—Mount Pearl
82,851
+1.9%

The population of each of the proposed seven electoral districts and the variances from the electoral quota are shown in Table 5 as follows.

Table 5
Variances from the Electoral Quota (73,505)
Proposed Electoral District Population 2011 Variance from 73,505
Avalon
80,056
+8.9%
Bay d'Espoir—Central—Notre Dame
78,911
+7.4%
Bonavista—Burin—Trinity
75,336
+2.5%
Labrador
26,728
−63.6%
Long Range Mountains
87,592
+19.2%
St. John's North
83,062
+13.0%
St. John's South—Mount Pearl
82,851
+12.7%




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