Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

The body responsible for the overhaul was summoned to the National Assembly next week.

Redistricting: the map of Quebec normally ready for 2026

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Members of the Commission on Electoral Representation of Quebec will defend their preliminary report next week in the National Assembly.

  • Jérôme Labbé (View profile)Jérôme Labbé

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The electoral map of Quebec will likely be ready for the general elections of 2026, the elected officials having refrained from resorting to the only means that would have allowed them to delay the process.

The Electoral Representation Commission (CRÉ) was summoned to a parliamentary committee on February 13, 14 and 15, less than five months after its preliminary report was released. been tabled in the National Assembly, a particularly short deadline compared to those of previous years.

This is a significant development, to the extent that, in the past, governments, under pressure from their deputies, have delayed convening the CRÉ, an essential step in revising the electoral map, which had the effect of slowing down the process.

Decried by Élections Québec, such a process resulted in a prolonged suspension of the work of the Commission during of the last two delimitation exercises.

From 2007 to 2011, more than two years passed between the submission of the CRÉ's preliminary report to the National Assembly and its convening before a parliamentary committee. During the following financial year, from 2014 to 2017, this delay was a year and a half.

Before the Commission of the National Assembly, the three members of the CRÉ – including the Director General of Elections (DGE), Jean-François Blanchet – will have the difficult task of convincing the deputies of the merits of their initial proposal which, without surprise, was rather poorly received by elected officials from the affected regions.

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ELSELL ON INFO: What if Canada focused on solar energy?< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The CRÉ's preliminary report suggests, among other things, eliminating two constituencies, in Gaspésie and eastern Montreal, to create two others, in the Laurentians and in Centre-du-Québec.

This rebalancing, it is explained, is made necessary by a gap that has become too significant between the number of voters in certain counties and the Quebec average.

CAQ, Liberal, Solidarity and PQ deputies, however, expressed their skepticism regarding the current proposal, pleading in particular that demography alone could not justify the weakening of the political weight of their respective regions in Quebec.

Such predictable criticism largely explains why governments often tend to delay electoral redistributions, according to Louis Massicotte, retired full professor in the Department of Political Science at the Laval University and former federal redistribution commissioner.

An MP who has been elected in a given division and who has established contacts with local stakeholders over the years tends to favor the status quo to the detriment of other options, he explains.

This is particularly the case when his constituency is supposed to disappear, as the thing is currently proposed for Gaspésie.

A quote from Louis Massicotte, retired full professor in the Department of Political Science at Laval University and former federal redistricting commissioner

The convocation of the CRÉ for mid-February not only means that the electoral map should be ready for the 2026 vote, but that it could even be known by the end of 2024, as the DGE predicted last fall.

Because the subsequent stages will no longer be a matter of the will of the deputies, but of an administrative process to which politics will no longer be able to oppose. Unless, of course, the Electoral Act is amended.

Once it has presented its preliminary report to the parliamentary committee, the CRÉ will begin drafting a revised report. To do this, it will base itself on the public hearings it conducted last fall, but also on the comments it will receive in parliamentary committee next week. And this second report will be submitted next fall, Élections Québec confirmed to us on Tuesday.

Will the CRÉ in the meantime agree to provide certain changes to his proposal? The question is valid. But there are always modifications between the preliminary report and the revised report, recalled the DGE last fall.

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Once this second report is tabled in the National Assembly next fall, the process will be almost complete. Due to the rules set by the Electoral Law, the deputies will only have five days to debate it at the Salon bleu, following which the CRÉ, which will have the last word, must, within a maximum of ten days, establish the electoral map, which will be published in the Official Gazette.

These last stages, which will be played out in less than a months, will be crucial. In February 2017, for example, the CRÉ caused a commotion by proposing to eliminate the Montreal riding of Sainte-Marie–Saint-Jacques, before reversing its decision three weeks later.

Contacted by Radio-Canada on Tuesday, the CAQ explained by email that it had taken into account the criticism expressed by Élections Québec concerning the delays observed under the Liberal Party government to justify its decision to convene the CRÉ as a parliamentary committee.

The delay is much shorter this time, argued the office of the Minister responsible for Democratic Institutions, Jean-François Roberge, arguing that the CRÉ should be heard with a certain speed once its public hearings are completed.

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