Councillors Warn Proposed Redistribution Will Reduce City of Toronto’s Representation at the Federal Level.
(Toronto, ON) April 17, 2023 - Spearheaded by Councillor Lily Cheng, 24 Councillors from the City of Toronto have jointly signed a letter to the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario (“the Commission”) in opposition of the proposed Federal Electoral District Redistribution. The proposed redistribution would reduce City of Toronto electoral districts from 25 to 24, a move that the Councillors warn will reduce Toronto’s representation at the Federal level, and likely at the Provincial and Municipal levels as well.
The Commission released its report recommending the final federal electoral districts for Ontario on February 10th, 2023. The report recommends 24 federal seats in Toronto, down from 25, which means that if an election is held after April 2024, the City of Toronto will be represented by one fewer MP in the next Parliament.
The boundaries effectively eliminate Don Valley East, with a portion of the riding east of the Don River merged with Scarborough Centre, a portion west of the Don River joining a new riding called Don Valley South, and a smaller portion joining Don Valley North. Notably, the Commission has effectively eliminated Victoria Park Avenue as a political boundary between ridings, which will likely have an impact on how the City of Toronto is organized going forward.
“At a time when the City of Toronto is facing unprecedented challenges in the middle of a housing and mental health crisis, in addition to a massive budget shortfall, we simply cannot afford to lose any seats at the Federal table,” said Lily Cheng, Toronto City Councillor, Ward 18 - Willowdale. “As the fastest growing city and economic engine of Canada, Toronto should have more representation, not less. We are a world-class city and to make sure Toronto’s success continues we need to keep working with all levels of government. That starts with ensuring residents are fairly represented.”
"City Council has made it very clear that it opposes this change that would eliminate a Toronto federal riding. It was wrong when the commission proposed removing a riding in Scarborough and it is wrong now to propose removing a riding in North York. As Deputy Mayor for the City of
Toronto, I am strongly opposed to any proposal that would reduce the number of ridings within our city, and dilute Toronto’s voice on Parliament Hill. We will continue to voice our opposition to this change on behalf of all Toronto residents,” said Toronto’s Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie.
The Commission consulted widely on its proposed boundaries first unveiled in 2022. It then reversed course and announced new boundaries on February 10th, 2023, which they have deemed as “final”. No notice has been given to affected communities and there is no further
opportunity for members of the public, stakeholders or civic officials to comment on the latest boundaries even though they are materially different from what was first proposed.
Only Members of Parliament are now permitted to object to boundaries, through written submissions to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. MPs may be given up to 5 minutes to explain their objection in person before the committee. The Standing Committee will then submit its report to the Speaker of the House of Commons who will transmit the committee’s report to the Commission. This cumbersome process is ostensibly designed to take the politics out of redistribution.
The letter jointly signed by 24 of 25 City Councillors has been sent to MP Michael Coteau in support of his advocacy against the proposed changes. Additionally, Councillor Josh Matlow and Councillor James Pasternak each passed motions that ask for greater transparency and public notice to ensure adequate public input, as well as a motion to oppose the redistribution formally.
Members of the public who want to voice their concerns, can do so by writing an opposition letter to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, Miriam Burke at PROC@parl.gc.caas soon as possible. The Standing Committee is expected to address this matter on an undetermined date within the next few weeks.