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Electoral map reform worries Montreal borough and municipality mayors

West end mayors say ‘no’ to new Quebec electoral map
WATCH ABOVE: Several of Montreal’s west end mayors are opposing Quebec’s latest electoral map reforms, merging two ridings and altering D’Arcy McGee, saying it will lead to a loss of representation for Montreal residents. Global's Navneet Pall reports.

A coalition of Montreal borough and municipality mayors are calling the Director General of Election Quebec’s decision to redistribute provincial ridings a disturbance of Montreal’s natural communities.

The mayors calling the decision into question are Côte-des-Neiges-Nôtre-Dame-de-Grâce’s Russell Copeman, Town of Mount Royal’s mayor Philippe Roy, Côte Saint-Luc’s Mitchell Brownstein, Hampstead’s William Steinberg, and Outremont’s Marie Cinq-Mars.

“We have many specific communities and they had a stronger voice when the riding was of a reasonable size,” Brownstein said.

On March 2, Elections Quebec announced in the province’s official gazette that it would go ahead with plans to merge the ridings of Outremont and Mount Royal.

The provincial riding of Mount Royal has existed since 1912.

They also decided to extend the boundaries of D’Arcy McGee to include parts of Côte-des-Neiges-Nôtre-Dame-de-Grâce.

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Elections Quebec will merge the ridings of Mount Royal and Outremont for the 2018 general elections.
Elections Quebec will merge the ridings of Mount Royal and Outremont for the 2018 general elections. Directeur Général des Élections du Québec.
Elections Quebec announced it will reconfigure the riding of D'Arcy McGee to include the parts of Côte-des-Neiges and NDG.
Elections Quebec announced it will reconfigure the riding of D'Arcy McGee to include the parts of Côte-des-Neiges and NDG. Directeur General des Élection du Québec

“The island of Montreal is losing yet again another seat,” Copeman said. “Since 1992, every redistribution of seats in the national assembly, the island of Montreal has lost one or more seats.”

Its decision, mayors say, will water down the value of their votes.

“By diluting the voice, you’re diluting the strength and the words of those people in that community,” Brownstein said.

Meanwhile, they also claim that as the vote is getting weaker, their populations are getting bigger as Côte-des-Neiges-Nôtre-Dame-de-Grâce and Town of Mount Royal have major housing projects in the works.

The new map is not yet in effect, and that’s why they hope to stop it.

The mayors talked about a lawsuit but stopped short of saying they would lead the charge.

“A judicial recourse against another public body is not in the best interest of the population,” Copeman said. “As I am often reminded, the money comes from the same pocket.”

Instead, municipal officials will support citizens who are opposed to the plans, including Côte-des-Neiges-Nôtre-Dame-de-Grâce councillor Marvin Rotrand.

“The next step will be to give people a voice. That’s why we have called a public meeting on the 21st of March,” Rotrand said.

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The new map will be enforced by the next general election in 2018.

Elections Quebec said the new map has been in the works since 2014, and best reflect communities across Quebec.