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Restoring Independence to Electoral Boundaries Commissions

Victoria (Josh Olund BCIT Radio A&E) – British Columbia is introducing amendments to the Electoral Boundaries Commission Act to provide the upcoming electoral boundaries commission with more independence and flexibility as it works to recommend an electoral map for the next two general elections.

This bill would remove the amendments made to the act in 2014, which limited the commission’s independence by establishing three regions that were collectively restricted to a minimum of 17 seats, regardless of their population or the preferred recommendations of the commission.These amendments intend to ensure the location of political boundaries between seats is determined not by politicians, but by an independent commission.

The amendments continue to principles that:

●The commission must seek to recommend electoral districts with populations within plus or minus 25% of the average electoral district population;and

●The commission may recommend electoral districts with populations outside that range.However, the proposed amendments recognize the representation concerns in lower populated regions by specifying that the commission may take into account special considerations respecting demographic and geographic factors.

●An electoral boundaries commission is non-partisan and independent of government. It is made up of three individuals:

○B.C.’s chief electoral officer;

○A judge or retired judge of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal, nominated by the lieutenant-governor in council;

○Another person is nominated by the Speaker of the legislative assembly, in consultation with the premier and leader of the Opposition

●The commission will present an initial report to the legislature within 12 months of being appointed.

○It will then get six months to hear from the public and consider any further input before a final report is brought forward to the legislature

●The province will confirm the members of the year’s commission by Oct. 24, 2021.

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