Boundaries commission offers three choices
Although Nunavut leaders say they want a legislature of 20-22 members, the Nunavut Electoral Boundaries Commission is suggesting a 17-member assembly one of three options in a report they released last week.
The commission set up to recommend electoral districts for Nunavut has gone outside its mandate to suggest that there be only 17 members elected to Nunavut’s first legislative assembly.
The Nunavut Electoral Boundaries Commission favors a 17-seat assembly with one member elected in each riding.
That’s less than the 20 to 22 members agreed upon in principle by the three signatories of the political accord GNWT, Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc at a leaders’ summit in Cambridge Bay in February.
The recommendation is also outside the mandate given to the commission by the GNWT legislative assembly.
In March the assembly passed a resolution instructing the commission to prepare a report for electoral boundaries for 10 or 11 dual-member ridings, and for 20 to 22 single-member ridings.
The three-member commission, chaired by Justice Ted Richard, submitted its report to legislative assembly speaker Sam Gargan last Friday.
People want smaller assembly
The commission recommended boundaries for 11 dual member ridings and 20 single-member ridings, but it also deemed it to propose a 17-member option in light of the overwhelming number of people who complained about the size and expense of the proposed assembly.
“There was an oft-repeated message given to us at the public hearings to the effect that 20-22 MLAs in the first Nunavut legislature is too many and is too costly for the taxpayers given the size of the entire population of Nunavut,” stated the report’s authors. “The commission is in agreement with this view.”
The 17-member model groups communities with an average of 1,455 residents per riding, the report states, and provides less overall voter variance between any larger and smaller districts.
This model proposes eight districts for the Baffin region, and nine for the Keewatin and Kitikmeot combined.
Each mid-sized community would have its own elected representative, but Iqaluit would have two. Most smaller communities would be grouped along current electoral disctricts with a few exceptions.
The commission recommends that Pelly Bay and Repulse Bay, because of historical and familial ties, be grouped together in a riding named Akulliq.
Whale Cove and Sanikiluaq together?
The report suggests Whale Cove residents would be better represented in a “Hudson Bay” district with Sanikiluaq instead of being overshadowed in its current pairing with Rankin Inlet, which would have its own district.
Based on historical and transportation ties, Igloolik and Hall Beach would fall into the same district, as would Resolute, Grise Fiord, Arctic Bay and Nanisivik.
During most of the public hearing, the commission heard that residents were opposed to dual-member districts because they didn’t want to share a riding with another community.
The report will be debated by the legislative assembly when it reconvenes October 1.
The assembly’s recommendations along with the report will then be forwarded to Jane Stewart, minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
The Governor-in-Council will make a final decision as to the number of electoral districts in Nunavut.