For Immediate Release:
October 26, 2017

Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC)

Nisku, AB — The Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission (AEBC), appointed in late 2016, was tasked with reviewing the existing boundaries and names for Alberta’s 87 electoral constituencies. Last week, the AEBC released their final report. The Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) President, Al Kemmere is raising concerns that the final report fails to ensure that all Albertans from rural and remote areas are effectively represented in the Alberta legislature. 

“In alignment with previous Supreme Court decisions, the highest priority for the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission must be ensuring Alberta’s diverse communities are effectively represented. This requires a fine balancing act that must weigh different criteria such as population, community characteristics, community history, and natural geography.” – Al Kemmere, AAMDC President

As a representative of Alberta’s rural municipalities, the AAMDC is very disappointed that the AEBC final report did not take the majority of recommendations from rural Alberta more seriously. We are deeply concerned that this continual dilution of rural representation will ultimately lead to weakened rural communities where the very industries that fuel our economy are rooted. 

The AAMDC understands the AEBC’s concern for largely increased populations in the two big cities, and additional ridings there may be justified, but not at the expense of Alberta’s rural ridings.

“As is acknowledged in the Commission’s final report, the challenges associated with representing geographically large and sparsely populated areas with electoral constituencies based on absolute voter parity is that it can deprive citizens with a distinct interest from having an effective voice in the legislative process. Absolute voter parity for electoral constituencies is not possible nor practical and the legislation allows for variances to account for the distinct communities of interest throughout Alberta.” – Al Kemmere, AAMDC President

Lastly there is a significant concern regarding the establishment of more urban-only constituencies where none existed before. Such a move only amplifies urban versus rural rhetoric and creates more urban only MLAs with little or no understanding of rural issues and no impetus to learn about the rural areas that support their regions. The AAMDC had recommended use of urban-rural balanced or blended constituencies so more MLAs have both rural and urban responsibilities and understood better the rural-urban interconnectedness and dependency so important to Alberta’s communities & regions.

This said, the final report does decrease the geographic size of some electoral divisions from what was proposed in the Interim Report that was released in the spring of 2016. AAMDC President Al Kemmere supports these changes from the Interim Report but notes that we still have constituencies that are proposed to grow that were already too large. It has been the AAMDC’s position that the current electoral boundaries in rural and remote areas are at their maximum size and that expanding the boundaries of Alberta’s largest electoral constituencies will only exacerbate the existing challenges facing those constituents and their elected representatives to meet face-to-face.

The AAMDC also appreciates the AEBC’s recognition of the importance of aligning electoral boundaries with municipal boundaries where it is possible and appropriate. It is important for municipal and provincial leaders to be able to work collaboratively to address the concerns and challenges faced by the residents that they both represent.

The AAMDC would like to thank the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission for providing the opportunity to provide input and comments to this important process. The health of Alberta’s democracy relies on the engagement with communities throughout Alberta, and balancing the interests and competing values of Albertans in both rural and urban areas.

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The AAMDC is an independent association comprising Alberta’s 69 counties and municipal districts. The AAMDC empowers its members through proactive leadership, strategic partnerships, effective advocacy and collective business services. For more information, visit AAMDC.com.

Media Contact:
Kim Heyman
Director of Advocacy and Communication
780.955.4079

 

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