Historical Overview

On March 31, 1955, The Electoral Divisions Act created an independent commission to make recommendations concerning the area and boundaries of provincial electoral divisions. As Manitoba's population changes, it is necessary to review electoral boundaries to ensure effective representation for everyone. If a division has a significant increase or decrease in population, the boundaries for that division might need to change.

The original boundaries commission members were Manitoba's Chief Justice, the President of the University of Manitoba and the Chief Electoral Officer for Manitoba.

The Act required that redistribution be based on the 1956 census of population taken by Statistics Canada or of any tenth year thereafter, including an estimated population of Indian reserves which have not participated in the census. Manitoba has been at the forefront of ensuring that electoral redistribution is undertaken in a non-partisan manner by an independent and statutory commission.

The commission meets every 10 years (using the most recent census data) and must submit its report by December 31 in the year it meets. The commission's most recent boundaries review was in 1998.

Members

In 2008 the Electoral Divisions Boundaries Commission will establish new provincial electoral division boundaries and names. Section 8(2) of The Electoral Divisions Act specifies the membership of the commission as follows:

  • Chief Justice of Manitoba
  • President of each of the following institutions: the University of Manitoba, Brandon University and the University College of the North
  • Chief Electoral Officer of Manitoba

As the President of the University of Manitoba is not available for the full-term of the commission, a temporary member has joined the commission as noted in The Electoral Divisions Act. Section 8(6) states that if any member of the commission is unable to act, his or her membership on the commission is performed by an alternate individual as follows:

  • in the case of the Chief Justice of Manitoba, by the Chief Justice of the Queen’s Bench
  • in the case of a university president, by the dean of the faculty of arts of that university
  • in the case of the Chief Electoral Officer, by the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer

Data

The present commission will use the 2006 census population for Manitoba. If the commission is satisfied that a specific part of Manitoba has not been fully counted it may use an estimate of population prepared by Statistics Canada, the Manitoba Bureau of Statistics or another source satisfactory to the commission.

Manitoba's total population is divided by the number of electoral divisions in the province set out in the Act (57 divisions), establishing a quotient for each division. According to The Electoral Divisions Act, the commission may then vary the population of each electoral division by a specific percentage.

Where the commission is of the opinion that a population variation is desirable, the commission may vary electoral division populations by:

  • 10% above or below the quotient for divisions south of the 53rd parallel and
  • 25% above or below the quotient for divisions wholly or partially north of the 53rd parallel.
    The permitted variation is the same as was in place for the 1998 boundaries commission.

During the redistribution process, the commission shall consider certain significant factors:

  1. community or diversity of interests of the population
  2. means of communication
  3. physical features (such as rivers or lakes)
  4. existing boundaries of rural municipalities as well as other similar or relevant factors
  5. special geographic conditions including:
    • sparsity, density and relative rate of population growth
    • accessibility and the size or shape of a region

Participation

The commission provides a preliminary map of new boundaries to the public and holds public hearings before submitting its final report to the Legislature.

Once all representations have been heard, the commission will finalize its report. The report establishing the areas, boundaries and names of electoral divisions is sent to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor before December 31, 2008. A further copy is submitted to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, who shall promptly table it before the Assembly if in session. If the Assembly is not sitting, the Speaker must table it within seven days after the next sitting begins. (Section 10(4) of the Act says if the report is submitted when the Assembly is not sitting, the Clerk of the Assembly must distribute a copy to each member of the Assembly.)

Report

According to 2006 amendments to The Electoral Divisions Act, the commission's report comes into effect at the first dissolution of the Legislature after the year the report is submitted.