ALMAGUIN – Proposed changes to the federal electoral ridings has one Almaguin MP disappointed and the other keeping mum about his feelings.
Parry Sound/Muskoka Tony Clement says his initial reaction to the proposed Federal Electoral boundary changes is surprise and disappointment.
“I didn’t expect to see any changes. I didn’t lobby for any changes. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it kind of mentality,” he said. “I enjoy representing all parts of Almaguin and East Parry Sound and would have expected that to continue.”
Clement says he has already spoken with Sundridge mayor Elgin Schneider about the proposed change that would see the Villages of South River and Sundridge, Townships of Strong and Joly as well as northern areas such as Commanda and Restoule shifted from the Parry Sound/Muskoka riding to Nipissing.
Clement says he is hoping area community members being influenced by the change, such as Schneider, make representation at upcoming public meetings.
“I like representing the areas that I represent so I wasn’t anxious for any changes,” he said. “It is a community of interest obviously with Magnetawan, Burk’s Falls and all these communities that are still part of Parry Sound-Muskoka.”
Clement says there is a strong argument to be made that the changes to the riding are not a wise decision.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “Even though all of the new ridings are in southern Ontario, they’ve decided to change nine out of 10 northern ridings. It doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Clement says there is no need to change things just because there are changes in other parts of the province.
“Obviously we have a system, which is a good system, which means it is not up to the MP to decide what his or her boundaries are,” he said. “I do respect the system but I do have an opinion and my opinion is that I like my riding exactly the way that it is.”
Nipissing-Timiskaming MPP Jay Aspin says that he is pleased that the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario has worked to keep the 10 ridings in Northern Ontario, however will not comment on proposed changes to his own riding.
“At this point it’s not for me to state my bias or comment one way or the other,” he said.
He says he wants to respect the views of constituents during the public input stage without attempting to extend his views.
The proposed changes would affect both the Nipissing-Timiskaming and Nicklebelt ridings significantly.
“They’ve effectively raised the boundaries so that Timiskaming would now become Nickelbelt-Timiskaming and I would slide a little bit south to Sundridge,” he said. “North I would cut off at Marten River.”
Aspin says it is nice that even though both the province and the country are growing, there isn’t growth in Northern Ontario, and the commission is still recommending that the 10 seats be retained.
“That is positive for Northern Ontario,” he said.
Aspin says the key objective is for the public to have fair representation in Ottawa.
“If they feel they are being unfairly represented, they should comment,” he said. “If they like the changes they should comment, if they don’t like the changes, they should comment.”
Aspin says it is all about fair public representation.