Saskatchewan Conservative MPs have begun speaking out against the new map of electoral districts that the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission proposed the other day, arguing that it would create unnecessary friction in the province by pitting urban voters against rural voters (and vice versa) and generally just fail at serving the needs of an integrated Saskatchewan economy/society where urban and rural interests are closely entwined.
The Conservative MPs also argue that the revised map would result in sprawling rural ridings that would be difficult for the elected representative to adequately represent. If you check the comments section of this post from Tuesday, you’ll find population figures for select ridings that show that in all six instances the urban ridings located in Regina and Saskatoon have higher populations than the average riding population in the province of 73,813. In several instances, in fact, urban ridings have populations that are as much as 10,000 greater than the least populated rural riding (Cypress Hills-Grasslands).
I’m not adamantly opposed to an accommodation like that. But for decades our political structures at both the provincial and federal level have failed to acknowledge the growing reality that Saskatchewan as a province, and Canada as a country, are becoming increasingly urbanized. From infrastructure to housing to poverty, crime and transportation, municipalities face huge challenges in trying to serve the needs of their growing populations. Working within the constraints of an outmoded political model that privileges rural voters over urban voters would hardly seem like a recipe for success as we continue to “move forward” into the 21st century.