The divide and rivalry between east and west Saint John, N.B., may have been amplified this week after a line was drawn between the two in the form of an electoral boundary.
A recent report suggesting the change will be put into action following a round of public hearings.
The move would mean that the Saint John River or Reversing falls bridge would act as the separation between Saint John—St. Croix and Saint John—Kennebecasis.
According to findings following a public hearing, no one from the City of Saint John attended the hearings, and there was no written opposition to the change. A political appointee made a presentation on behalf of the mayor’s office.
Global News reached out to the mayor’s office for comment but none was received by publishing deadline.
Quispamsis Mayor Libby O’Hara said that she’s looking forward to the April 2024 changes, noting that her current riding of Fundy Royal has the town connected with other, smaller municipalities. She said Saint John should look at the changes with optimism, having two MPs serving the one city.
“I think that they should be happy about that,” said O’Hara
“Now that they don’t only have one voice who will speak for them, now they’ll have two voices that will speak for them. They have the power of the second largest municipality in our area – so behind Saint John in Quispamsis. I think that we have some weight in that. We’ve got some skin in the game now that we get a voice in what’s happening in the southwestern region.”
Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long described the decision as “regrettable” in a press scrum. He said that while he respects the work of the boundary commission, he feels Saint John will be done a disservice by splitting the riding.
“It’s not right. It’s a bad decision. But that’s what happens. You had Moncton and Fredericton advocating for concentration with one MP in their cities, and in Saint John, we didn’t have that,” told Long.
“Splitting the city is wrong; it’s not going to help the city, it’s going to hurt the city in the long term. Saint John could very well have one MP sitting in St. Stephen and one MP sitting in Quispamsis. MPs need to be accountable to the major cities.”
Quispamsis outnumbered Longs Liberals in the last federal election 2,678-1,957.
“Maybe that could be one of his concerns. He would know when he’s out canvassing, ‘Maybe I’m losing a riding where I have a lot of support,'” political science professor J.P. Lewis told Global News.
He said that the election might change the representation, but he’s not quite sure how it will change the quality of the representation for the city.
The boundaries are set to be in place before the next federal election.