Remember that Friends episode where Rachel wants to make an English trifle dessert but gets the recipe mixed up with a shepherd’s pie? She ends up with a weird layered potato, custard and beef cake that, out of politeness, everyone tries to eat but just can’t stomach.
I see the old federal riding boundaries in much the same way. Shepherd’s pie (rural areas) and English trifle (urban areas) are both delightful things but if they’re smushed together, something is going to get compromised. Does this mean I value one over the other? Absolutely not. It means by acknowledging the differences, we can work towards an electoral system in which each complement each other and is utilized to its fullest potential.
The argument (and robocalls) that insinuate that Saskatchewan’s values are somehow at risk by creating urban only ridings has no merit – or should I say Marit? Furthermore, I am certain that the reason we have such a low voter turnout is more due to a lack of faith in our system and feeling unengaged in politics than because of confusion about riding boundaries.
At universities we learn how to become critical thinkers. Why would someone disagree with a recommendation based on equalization of voters’ voices? Usually privilege is involved in such debates. If you take a look at the current Members of Parliament for Saskatchewan, it is clear who gains privilege from mixed rural/urban boundaries. Partisanship should not outweigh fairness.
The fact that I felt the need to defend the official decision of the Federal Ridings Boundary Commission – a decision that is completely backed by facts, common sense and logic – seems wrong to me. Unfortunately, given our federal political landscape, this seems to have become the norm. It is with sincere hope that the acceptance of the commission’s report will be a first step to creating a more democratic Canada.
Photo illustration by Edward Dodd