Proposed Boundaries – Prince Edward Island

Part I – Introduction

Mandate of the Commission

Each decade a commission is established in the province to undertake a review of the federal electoral districts. Such reviews occur nationwide and are a legislated mechanism to ensure that the population shifts that naturally occur are periodically taken into account. The shifts in demographics can affect the distribution of voting rights, and this is subject to review after each decennial census. The Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. E-3 (the Act) sets out the procedure for the review.

In early 2012, the Honourable Gordon L. Campbell was appointed as Chair of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for the Province of Prince Edward Island. In addition, the Honourable Armand DesRoches and Mr. Eugene Murphy were appointed by the Speaker of the House of Commons to serve as Commission members, effective February 21, 2012.

The commissions of each province work separately to achieve the following consistent objectives:

  • propose a new electoral map for their province by considering such criteria as average population numbers, communities of identity and interest, historical patterns of an electoral district, and geographic size of electoral districts;
  • consult with Canadians through public hearings;
  • submit a report on their considerations and propose an electoral map to the House of Commons;
  • consider objections from members of the House of Commons;
  • prepare a final report outlining the electoral boundaries for their province.

It is important to note that commissions consider the input received from Canadians and members of the House of Commons when determining the boundaries. However, as independent bodies, they make all final decisions as to where these boundaries will lie.

The decennial census of the population of the Province of Prince Edward Island was taken in 2011, and pursuant to the provisions of the Act, the Chief Statistician of Canada reported that the population was then fixed at 140,204. The province is divided into four (4) electoral districts, designated as Cardigan, Charlottetown, Egmont and Malpeque. In Prince Edward Island the designated number of electoral districts is protected by legislation, and despite varying electoral quotas across the country, the province is guaranteed four seats.

The Act provides that the population of each electoral district shall correspond as nearly as possible to the electoral quota for the province. The Prince Edward Island electoral quota is 35,051 inhabitants per electoral district. It is, however, necessary to take into consideration certain factors stated in section 15 of the Act. That section defines the applicable factors for redistribution as follows:

  • 15. (1) In preparing its report, each commission for a province shall, subject to subsection (2), be governed by the following rules:
    • (a) the division of the province into electoral districts and the description of the boundaries thereof shall proceed on the basis that the population of each electoral district in the province as a result thereof shall, as close as reasonably possible, correspond to the electoral quota for the province, that is to say, the quotient obtained by dividing the population of the province as ascertained by the census by the number of members of the House of Commons to be assigned to the province as calculated by the Chief Electoral Officer under subsection 14(1); and
    • (b) the commission shall consider the following in determining reasonable electoral district boundaries:
      • (i) the community of interest or community of identity in or the historical pattern of an electoral district in the province, and
      • (ii) a manageable geographic size for districts in sparsely populated, rural or northern regions of the province.

Factors for Consideration

In reviewing the legislated factors, the Commission has determined that manageable geographic size is not a relevant consideration in the Province of Prince Edward Island. The key consideration is to achieve a close proximity to the electoral quota. The 2011 Census revealed that the population of each electoral district in the province is within 2.72% of the current electoral quota. This is a highly desirable variance range and would only be disrupted by the Commission for very compelling reasons.

The previous commission had recommended changes to the electoral district boundaries which, upon reflection, have done a good job of establishing strong voter parity while accounting for the community of interest, community of identity, and the historical pattern of the electoral districts in the province.

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