A proposal for how to redraw New Brunswick’s 10 federal ridings would see Saint John split into two different ridings.
The federal Electoral Boundaries Commission released its proposed tweaks on Friday and while there are no sweeping changes, it would see Saint John West grouped with Charlotte County, while the rest of the city would vote with Rothesay and Quispamsis.
The Liberal member of Parliament for what is now Saint-John Rothesay is panning the proposed change.
“It’s not good for Saint John,” Long said.
“You could have two MPs representing Saint John who don’t live anywhere near the city.”
While Long is right that Saint John could be left without an MP living within city limits, the changes would also make it possible to have two.
The potion of the city west of the Saint John River would be absorbed by what is now known as New Brunswick Southwest and become Saint John-Saint Croix. Conservative MP John Williamson currently represents the area and lives in St. Stephen.
Long’s current riding would include Quispamsis, which joins Saint John and Rothesay to form Saint John-Kennebecasis.
Neighbouring riding Fundy Royal would lose Quispamsis, but gain Riverview. Fundy Royal MP Rob Moore currently lives in Quispamsis.
Neither Williasom nor Moore were available for an interview to discuss the new ridings.
Other potential changes would see the ridings containing Moncton and Fredericton contain everything within their respective city limits. Most of the northern ridings received only small tweaks as well.
But according to political scientist Jamie Gilles, tweaks on one part of the map can have a cascading effect on the rest of it.
“Every map commission has to draw the line somewhere and I think unfortunately for those in Saint John who wanted Saint John to be an individual riding — the city and surrounding area — it simply doesn’t work because of where the population is located,” he said.
Saint John-Rothesay has served as a battleground riding in the last three elections, with Long narrowly carrying the riding for the Liberals. JP Lewis, an associate professor at the University of New Brunswick, says it will be interesting to watch if the proposed changes would have an impact on the province’s seat count.
“There’s a lot of hypotheticals around this riding, but politically speaking it’s interesting for a riding such as Saint John-Rothesay to possibly be split,” he said.
Long has often done well in polls in Saint John West, while the results for Liberals in Quispamsis have been more mixed. On the other hand, Saint John West could dilute the largely rural voters in what is now New Brunswick Southwest.
But Lewis notes that the entire area has existing conservative ties, having voted for the PCs in the last few provincial elections.
“It’s kind of trading a provincially-held Tory riding for another.”
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