Proposal would bring Englehart into Nipissing-Timiskaming

Darlene Wroe

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

DISTRICT - Nipissing-Timiskaming MP Anthony Rota is awaiting the outcome of the proposed federal ridings boundary changes.

His is one of the federal ridings under consideration for re-aligning. One proposal would see the Englehart area included in Nipissing-Timiskaming.

Currently the riding ends just north of Temiskaming Shores.

Elk Lake would also be included in a new Nipissing-Timiskaming riding.

The riding currently covers 15,000 square kilometres, noted the Liberal MP and Speaker of the House, while pointing out that his is not the largest of the northern ridings.

Originally the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario had suggested adding the Temiskaming Shores area to the Timmins-James Bay area, which is represented by NDP MP Charlie Angus.

Rota said that during the public hearings, members of council and citizens made comments, and the Boundaries Commission responded with the proposed addition of the Englehart and Elk Lake areas to the Nipissing-Timiskaming riding.

Rota expressed concern about the expansion of northern ridings, though adding the new area would be "a wonderful place that I would be very proud to serve."

While expanding the size of northern ridings, the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario is proposing to reduce the number of ridings in Northern Ontario from ten to nine.

The proposed shifts in boundaries are taking place across the province as the commission attempts to modify them to ensure an equal representation of residents in Ontario by their members of parliament. Because other parts of the province have been growing at a more rapid rate than Northern Ontario, it has been proposed that the north lose a riding.

"In Northern Ontario they should really take into consideration communities and size," said Rota, adding that this is a problem which is occurring all across Northern and rural Canada as their representation in Ottawa is reduced as southern populations grow but northern populations do not keep pace.

The expanded ridings also make it more challenging for the MPs to represent their constituents in Ottawa, Rota said.

"It's important they get to meet the people in their riding and get to know them so they can represent them."

He added, "Part of fair representation is having representation in Ottawa. The large ridings makes it very difficult for MPs to get to know their constituents."

He also expressed concern about the impact on the ability of MPs to represent Northern Ontario in Ottawa with one less voice. He said it is not uncommon for Northern Ontario MPs to come together, regardless of their party affiliation, to make something happen in Northern Ontario through joining their voices "because they want what is best for the people in their riding." One less riding reduces the strength of that voice.

The proposal is now in the hands of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which will review it and possibly make some of their own suggestions. It will then be sent back to the Boundaries Commission for review and final report.

The final changes would be put in place in the spring of 2024 in readiness for the next federal election.

Darlene Wroe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker