PHOTOS: A typical scene in voter heavy rural Alberta. Well, they’ve probably updated the sign on the truck trailer by now, or, if not, they will soon. (Photo: J. McPherson, Wikimedia Commons.) Below: blogger Dave Cournoyer.

Stand by for an often-mentioned agricultural product to hit the fan. Alberta’s Electoral Boundaries Commission has issued its much-anticipated final report and it calls for one new urban riding in the Edmonton area and two in the Calgary region.

In addition, if the commission’s recommendations are adopted by MLAs, rural Alberta will lose three MLAs, as traditionally heavily over-represented rural electoral districts are consolidated to partly reflect long-term trends in population change.

This will inevitably be described as an attack on rural areas and the voters who live in them by the UCP, although the same things or something much like them would have had to happen in much the same way if the commission had done its work under a Conservative government. Demographics, after all, don’t lie, even if they’re frequently lied about.

Four electoral districts will be consolidated into three in the area northwest of Edmonton; five will be consolidated into four in the area west of Red Deer; and seven will be consolidated into six in the area generally east of Calgary. Added will also be the new urban ridings of Airdrie-Cochrane, in suburban areas north and west of Calgary, and Calgary-North East and Edmonton-South, within the two cities’ boundaries. Assuming, of course, that the Legislature follows through on the commission’s recommendations.

Interestingly, in its final report, the Boundaries Commission accepted almost all of the long list of recommendations made by my colleague and fellow blogger Dave Cournoyer in his submission to the commission and his response to its interim report.

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  1. The dissenting opinion, by one Gwen Day, appears in Appendix A of the report. It makes for interesting reading. She says, on page 63

    “I am convinced the correct response to growth in urban population should have been an increase in variances within the cities and not an increase in the number of ridings in the two major cities. This would best provide effective representation for Albertans as a whole”

    and goes on to quote Sir John A. that although population size is a major consideration, “that different interests, classes and localities should be fairly represented”. Apparently, she interprets this to mean that rural interests, as filtered through the Deform Party, should rule the rest of us until the end of time.

    She claims further that “Rural Albertans control the land, access to the land and provide a significant portion of the labor force that most
    of our primary industries depend on. Because the rural population is small compared to the cities, in order to be “effectively represented” the rural population must be granted more than a “one person, one vote” voice in order to ensure that good stewardship is exercised over the resources that the primary industries of Alberta depend on.” This is Blood and Soil territory; also shameless advocacy for corporate control of public resources. This needs to hung around the necks of Kenney and his horde.

    Sir John said “fairly represented”, and rural interests are and will be fairly represented. But rural Alberta DO NOT CONTROL THE LAND they happen to live on. They can not be permitted to act as permanent government with a false, overwhelming mandate to rule.

    I call on the NDP government to enact the recommendations of the committee without fear, without prevarication, and above all, without delay.

    1. You are so right, farmers do not control their own land. Big business, as any Alberta landowner who has dealt with the spying and lying regulatory bodies in this province can tell you, controls everything about land.

      If you are rich and powerful enough the “rule of law” in Alberta is more in the nature of guidelines. Has it changed under the NDP? Not by much if at all.

      BTW, Death and Gravity, can I set up a public toilet in your urban living room? It will be of great public benefit, my workers will come in and clean the carpet once a year, and I will give you five cents every year for the right of way. That’s what happens in rural Alberta when the parasites come calling.

    2. Glad you read her stuff and put it here…Total bull!!! when she says this: ‘in order to ensure that good stewardship is exercised over the resources that the primary industries of Alberta depend on.”

      Only a very few brave rural people, many of them trappers and hunters, and of course First Nations, are willing to challenge and speak out against the full onslaught of logging and oil and gas fragmentation of Alberta’s boreal and foothills forests… native trout are going extinct, the caribou are going extinct, old growth forests are being reduced to fragments. Only a very few rural people have braved the backlash and spoken out against the wall to wall industrial take-over of public lands and joined in objections and protestations by environmental groups. The rest are either silent or actively attacking any calls for public interest policies by anyone who doesn’t live in the holy land of rural Alberta.

      When the Getty cabinet gave away the remaining unlogged forests of northern Alberta in the late 1980s to large international corporations without setting aside properly sized protected areas, government and independent scientists warned of the wildlife losses. And there was quite significant community ostracization toward those few rural people who took the risk of speaking against the huge industrial logging expansion of allocations like the AlPac and Daishowa FMAs, to name the most eggregious. The rural backlash to rural people speaking up for environmental protection was so strong some people in a few of the most intense communities lost their businesses. So much for the bullshit that it’s only environmentalists that engage in market actions, eh? I was raised in rural Alberta, FWIW. She’s full of it with regard to her generalization that rural people can be counted on for ‘good stewardship’. Some, the minority in my experience, will advocate good stewardship. The majority have gone full corporate partisan in their views. For them, what the company scientists say is truth!!!

    3. Also, Death and Gravity, good on you: you’ve called out what’s happening in southwestern Alberta when you say this: ‘But rural Alberta DO NOT CONTROL THE LAND they happen to live on. They can not be permitted to act as permanent government with a false, overwhelming mandate to rule.’

      The motorized users of off-highway vehicles, e.g. quads and dirtbikes, have gone ballistic in objecting to two new small parks north of Waterton Lakes National Park, the Castle Parks, created by the NDP. Those parks have been pushed for by local conservation groups since the 1960s. And urged by scientists… but: Rural OHVrs, on their Facebook group pages and on the Environment Ministers’ Facebook page are constantly ranting that only they, local rural people, who use the area and who live in the region have the sole right to decide what should happen to those public lands. The rest of us should stay the hell out. We’ve no right to comment on land use in their area.

      I repeat: They’re explicitly arguing that the NDP and citizens who live in urban areas should get the hell out any decision-making for these public lands. Seriously. Rural entitlement has gone off the scale.

      And a small minority of them make unsubtle violent threats toward anyone who disagrees with banning the OffHighway Vehicles in the parks, and who comes there to hike in support of the creation of the parks. And a there’s a vicious small minority, that are never censored, who make online veiled death threats toward the Environment Minister and the Premier.

      Native AB trout are going extinct in the areas now in park protection in large part because of massive extensive motorized use putting large quantities of eroded soils into the streams, the PCs never controlled. Despite decades of scientists advising that the area was being degraded and could not bear the motorized use.

      Wildlife habit on public lands in rural AB has been hammered by industrial and motorized use and in response, local rural politicians and OHV dealers and Chambers of Commerce line up and support it as sustainable use for the most part.

      Completely politically incorrect in AB for me to say this of course. I’m being “divisive”. I’m “pointing fingers.” We’re all supposed to genuflect to the great “original” ” first” and “best” rural stewards of public lands…makes me ill. A few work at it and push back on the rest.

      Most stay silent and they let the rest gang up with corporate industrial users and rail about urban-know nothings and hammer on any locals who are willing to speak for the caribou or the trout…

      Just read the comment sections on rural media or Facebook pages devoted to these issues. This rural ‘stewards’ crap is mostly a self-serving myth.

      1. FWIW Recent evidence regarding my allegations/observations about OHVrs demanding exclusive public lands control…and wanting urban citizens to butt out.

        1st…Recent news: Lethbridge University poll finds majority wants more controls/limits on OHV use…here:

        Recent sample of common reactions to the poll and pollster from OHVrs FBook groups:

        ‘ Why should Edmonton residents have any say on what happens in the Castle area? I’ve never been asked my opinion on what happens in the Edmonton area.
        Yesterday at 1:06pm · Edited’

        ‘ No, who is he that he has any credibility in this matter? Did he go to the forestry and question the users as to where they see the future of the eastern slope of the Rockies? If not, then his survey means absolutely nothing! If your not a user, this does not concern you. You don’t get a say!!! We are not care what you do in your back yard!’

        ‘…what a joke another a temp of blowing smoke up our asses again why not talk to the people that use the area rather then ones that have never been out of the city limits’

    1. Airdrie-Cochrane is urban. Leastways, it’s “overwhelmingly urban.” Saying this riding isn’t urban is like insisting a mansion is a cabin because it has a big lawn. Airdrie has a population of 60,000. Let’s pretend half of it is in Airdrie-Cochrane, on the west side of Highway 2, although it’s probably more. Cochrane has a population of about 20,000 people. The riding according to the final report will have a population of about 51,000. Sorry, but that’s an urban riding with a big lawn. DJC

      1. I don’t know why you apologized to me, but I forgive you for whatever your transgression was.

        Airdrie and Cochrane are suburban, not urban. It’s not about population size, since all ridings would have approximately the same population size (we hope – that was the point of this exercise, after all). It’s about the population density, built form, and transportation options.

        I made the distinction because, broadly speaking, suburban and urban ridings have different voting preferences. For the latest example, Calgary’s municipal election results showed that Nenshi had better results in areas with higher population density, a more urban built form (generally speaking, less separation between residential and commercial zones), and less use of cars.

  2. As I look at the maps, one thing that sticks out at me is that the City of Fort McMurray is split down the middle, divided into two huge and otherwise largely uninhabited ridings. I cam see the argument for this in the broader context of their objectives, but I don’t like it. It could either unfairly dilute, or else effectively double, the representation of the citizens of Fort Mac.

    Does anyone else spot anything?

    1. Remember, there is no “City”, capital ‘c’, of Fort McMurray. There is only the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which encompasses both the built-up city and its suburbs, its rural environs and undeveloped boreal forest; from communities such as Anzac and Conklin in the south, to Fort McKay, Fort Chipewyan & Fort Fitzgerald in the North. It can’t be treated as a city in the usual sense, like Grande Prairie or Lethbridge. Also, much of its population is transient and ineligible to vote there.

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