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  • Ross Conroy

Electoral map: reaction to the announcement of a bill aimed at stopping the current process

Today, the four parties represented in the National Assembly announced that they have agreed to stop the process of revising the electoral map of Quebec, which was initiated after the 2022 elections. They plan to file a bill shortly so that the 2026 elections can be held with the current electoral map. Another bill would aim to review the criteria for a future exercise. However, the three commissioners responsible for the electoral delimitation are concerned about this intention, believing that the legitimacy of the process of revising the electoral map must be based on its independence and impartiality.

The commissioners have stated that elected officials can review the parameters and delimitation criteria, but it would be preferable to do so outside of the map review process, which is already underway. This would ensure greater neutrality in the reflection. The current electoral map was established using demographic data from 2014, and it already contains significant inequities in representation, which will increase by 2026. The commissioners believe that stopping the work would compromise the fair and equitable representation of voters for the next elections. Unlike administrative regions, constituencies do not have a fixed character; they must follow the evolution of voters.

Over time, the population moves across the territory, and its growth is stronger in some regions than in others. This is why the Commission must review the electoral map after the holding of two general elections. The commissioners have made it clear that the current delimitation criteria are legitimate and democratic, and the Supreme Court of Canada has recognized that they are of paramount importance, in the interest of fairness towards all voters. These criteria must be distinguished from the parameters that accompany them. The Election Act establishes three main parameters. It determines that the number of constituencies can vary between 122 and 125. It specifies that it is necessary to consider the number of voters gathered in each constituency rather than the total number of people who live there. It also sets at 25% the maximum and minimum deviation that each constituency can have in relation to the average number of voters. These parameters serve a fundamental democratic principle: the electorate must be represented fairly and equitably within an elected assembly.

The Law provides two criteria to achieve this: relative equality of voting and respect for natural communities. These criteria also guide the delimitation of municipal and federal electoral maps. The relative equality of the vote implies that the vote of voters in each constituency has relatively the same value. If a constituency has half as many voters as another, the vote of these voters has twice as much weight. The mandate of the Commission is to limit this scenario, out of consideration for the entire electorate. Taking into account only this mathematical criterion, the mandate of the Commission would consist of dividing Quebec into 125 constituencies of 51,000 voters. However, fair and equitable representation also involves bringing together, within the same constituency, groups that have common characteristics.

People don't live in groups of 51,000 voters with common interests. This is where the deviation of plus or minus 25% from the average comes into play. It makes it possible to take into account demographic, geographical, and sociological considerations, such as population density, area of regions, and the territories of municipalities. Since the commissioners take natural communities into account, the number of voters in each constituency varies from 40,632 to 60,791, in their preliminary proposal.



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