Regarding the letter published Sept. 19, New Riding Boundaries Won't Satisfy All, from Ziggy Eckardt:
I was the last speaker from Gibsons at the first redistribution hearing of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia on Sept. 10 at the Holiday Inn in North Vancouver. Unfortunately Mr. Eckardt seems to have misunderstood my submission.
Though it is absolutely true that I do not like being represented by a Conservative MP, that is not what I said.
I said that severing the lower Sunshine Coast's connection to rural coastal communities and lumping us in with West Vancouver will, for all intents and purposes, render our votes in Canadian elections meaningless.
The following example illustrated my point: In 2009, my MP gave his word that he would table a petition in the House signed by 348 members of my community; however, after three years and many requests (public and private), he has failed to do so. In fact, his office now says they lost the petition and have no intention of doing anything about it.
The commissioners did not appear to approve of this behaviour, and this story evoked quite a reaction of dismay from members of the gallery. Justice Hall later commented that in a democratic system, we should expect elected people to represent us.
Riding redistribution must consider demographics and population increases while ensuring communities of interest are grouped together as much as possible in order to ensure voter equity. Changing the electoral boundary to keep the Sunshine Coast intact and include us with island communities is not about getting rid of the Conservative party. It is about ensuring we have a voice. By removing the Sunshine Coast from the heavily populated West Vancouver riding and keeping the Sunshine Coast and islands together, the citizens of these small towns will have a better opportunity to elect an MP who shares our common values, someone who does not think it is OK to blatantly ignore us.
I agree that it must be very difficult for the commissioners to be fair to all. I was impressed with Justice Hall's openness and willingness to hear from the public and his acknowledgement that at first he had been focused on numbers more than communities of interest, but that as he listened, he was starting to recognize how important communities of interest are.
I left that hearing feeling confident that the commissioners sincerely listened and that they would consider our input in their deliberations.
Suzanne Senger Gibsons