THE federal New Democratic Party is trying to stop the proposed boundary merger between the North Vancouver and North Burnaby federal ridings.
The NDP says there is more than just a geographic awkwardness to the new boundaries that would see North Burnaby absorb a large piece of North Vancouver into its riding to become North Burnaby-Seymour. The party argues the two areas have no community of interest between them.
The official Opposition is asking for the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for B.C. to reverse its decision and keep the old boundary lines intact, or change them to better reflect the values of citizens in each riding.
"I phoned all the households that would be affected in North Vancouver and North Burnaby - close to 2,500 people that we spoke with - and 80 per cent are opposed," said Kennedy Stewart, the NDP's Burnaby-Douglas MP.
The boundary change would add nearly 25,000 North Vancouverites - many of whom tend to vote for the Conservatives - to Stewart's left-leaning riding.
He calls the boundary change a mistake that should be changed before a decision is finalized in June.
"Why I'm bringing this opposition forward is it's not that I don't like the people of North Vancouver," he said. "That's why I did the calling in the first place. I thought at the time that maybe North Vancouver would love to be merged with North Burnaby, but that's not the case."
"I want to be their voice," he added. The new riding is the best option given the limited choices faced by the commission, according to Justice John Hall, British Columbia commission chairman.
He told the North Shore News in January the commission looked at cutting into West Vancouver and pieces of Pemberton, but that would make less sense to him than North Burnaby.
Stewart disagreed with Hall's interpretation, stating residents of North Vancouver would prefer such a move as West Vancouverites share a community of interest with North Van.
But it's not too late to change things, Stewart added.
The boundary changes happen every decade based on population growth and shifts. A census from 2011 showed B.C. has 4.4 million people and as such the House of Commons representatives will grow from 36 to 42. The independent, non-partisan commission aims to create around 105,000 people in each riding.
Currently, the North Vancouver riding represented by Conservative MP Andrew Saxton has 127,000.
"The reality is because of the population growth on the North Shore is we've grown too large to be one riding," Saxton told the North Shore News. "We have to draw a line. I don't know where that line should be drawn, but we saw an independent, nonpartisan look at the lines and make them."
The commission's decision should be respected, Saxton added.
As for the NDP highlighting North Burnaby and North Vancouver's lack of a community of interest, Saxton doesn't believe that's unusual, nor a good enough reason to change the boundaries again.
"There's 308 ridings currently in Canada and many of those ridings have diverse communities," Saxton said. "It's not unusual that you would have different communities represented by one MP. It may make the job for that MP more challenging, but it's not impossible."
Saxton was more excited about the prospect of B.C. gaining six more representatives to carry similar weight to those of Ontario and Quebec.
"I think that's great news for B.C.," he said. Ontario is presently represented by 108 MPs but will see that number rise to 121.
The commission will be making the final decision in June.