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Quebec minister says she doesn’t like new riding boundaries

Rita de Santis at an event in November 2016. Navneet Pall/Global News

The fight to save two key English ridings on the electoral map has been lost — at least for now — as the independent Quebec Electoral Commission says the riding map can be re-drawn to merge Mont Royal and Outremont.

READ MORE: Electoral map reform worries Montreal borough and municipality mayors

The Liberal government says they don’t like the decision, but will accept it. Rita de Santis, the minister for the reform of democratic institutions, told Global News that she sympathizes with citizens of Mount Royal and Outremont because she was one of a number of politicians, including over a dozen in the Liberal caucus, to fight to keep those riding boundaries as they currently exist.

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In the end, after three revisions, the electoral commission made the final decision based on population. The boundary changes largely affect Montreal’s anglophone and Jewish population, many of them concentrated in those two ridings.

The issue has united big names in Montreal’s English community, with some even talking about possible lawsuits. De Santis said the process has been upsetting, and says she agrees with the premier, who has said he had issues with the new boundaries. The Couillard government hopes to avoid the same sort of outrage when the commission does its next redrawing in 2026.

READ MORE: Urgent motion opposes Election Quebec’s decision to merge Mont-Royal and Outremont ridings

“I don’t know if it will be an electoral promise — I have no idea, but I do know that it is something that is becoming more and more important to discuss,” de Santis said.

The minister received some backlash over the issue — not because of her comments, but the fact she chose to hold a press conference with only select media present. Some questioned whether de Santis was giving the same message to both French and English speakers. She made a public apology Wednesday morning.

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