Part I Initial Report to the House of Commons (December 19, 2012) – Saskatchewan – The Commission's Initial Proposal

The Commission's Initial Proposal

When the Commission commenced its deliberations, the electoral districts in place consisted of six mixed rural–small city districts and eight mixed rural–large city districts, four emanating into rural Saskatchewan from Regina and four from Saskatoon.

The population of Saskatchewan increased by 5.56% over the previous census. The two major cities grew at a substantially faster rate than the province as a whole. Regina's population increased by 8.34% and Saskatoon's by 12.89%. Three factors accounted for the population growth in Saskatoon and Regina: (1) intra-provincial migration from farms, villages and towns to the cities; (2) a net gain for the cities of interprovincial migrants; and (3) increased numbers of international migrants settling disproportionately in the two cities.

Saskatchewan's four fastest-growing electoral districts over the past decade were all of the mixed urban-rural variety. These are districts in which the majority of the population resides in a quadrant of one of the province's two major cities and the minority in the adjoining, often geographically large, aggregation of towns, villages and farms. The 2011 Census confirmed that the expanded population of these four districts (Blackstrap, Saskatoon—Humboldt, Saskatoon—Wanuskewin and Wascana) had resulted in large measure from the increase in the urban component of the mixed districts. Between 2001 and 2011 these four districts averaged a population increase of 15.22%. By contrast the remaining 10 districts grew by 1.5% over the same period.

This Commission, like the 2002 commission in its initial proposal, felt that the time had come to have a number of electoral districts located solely within the geographical limits of the province's two largest cities. Saskatchewan's demographic composition had changed from the time of the last commission and had changed even more significantly since 1966, when the first mixed rural-urban electoral districts were created. The Commission believed that the communities of interest and identity were more closely aligned within the city boundaries than they were between the city and rural areas. Put plainly, residents of Forest Grove, Nutana and Riversdale in Saskatoon share more common concerns with one another than with residents of Rosetown and Humboldt.

Before drafting its proposal, the Commission invited the public to provide comments on their vision of electoral districts. This resulted in over 200 communications that overwhelmingly supported the concept of dedicated city ridings for Regina and Saskatoon. These indications served to confirm the Commission's initial thoughts. The outcome was a decision to propose a set of boundaries significantly different from that of the past decade.

The Commission's initial proposal called for the creation of three exclusively urban districts in Saskatoon and two in Regina. As a result of a smaller population in Regina, one district in that city was slated to remain an urban-rural blend. The province's remaining eight districts would continue to be rural–small city hybrids.

The Commission was mindful that changes of this nature in Saskatoon and Regina would result in the significant realignment of some other constituencies. In order to approximate the average population per electoral district (i.e. the electoral quota), these new constituencies would of necessity be geographically larger than the previous ones.

A more detailed consideration of the process that guided the initial proposal can be found in the Proposal for the Province of Saskatchewan document. It was published on the Commission's website and in the Canada Gazette through Elections Canada. The main aspects of the proposal were advertised extensively through provincial, regional and local newspapers in early August 2012.

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