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New riding name, but no changes

February 13th,2023 | Municipal News

Don’t worry Hills residents, you’re not getting a new Bloc Quebecois MP.

There was always the chance that parts of La Pêche, Low, Denholm, Kazabazua and Lac-Ste- Marie would be shuffled into a different riding by the time the next election rolled around, but MPs in the Outaouais fought against the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission’s proposed riding shuffle in Quebec — and won.

Liberal MP for the Pontiac Sophie Chatel told the Low Down that she wasn’t surprised that the commission withdrew its proposed riding shuffle early last week, which would have split the above municipalities among the Pontiac and Laurentides ridings. She said the commission’s proposal “didn’t make sense” from a social, economic and cultural perspective, as half of Hills residents would have been represented by her and the other half by Bloc Quebecois MP Marie-Héléne Gaudreau.

“The two most impacted MRCs were Vallée-de-la-Gatineau, which half of it was to go to the [Laurentides-Labelle], and the MRC des Collines – also a big part of it – was to go into the [Laurentides-Labelle],” explained Chatel.

“The whole community stuck together, we spoke with one voice and we understood the challenges of the commission and we gave them solutions,” noted Chatel, who was joined by fellow MPs in the Outaouais who fought against the proposed changes at a hearing in early February. “We had to make some difficult choices, but the important thing was to keep the Outaouais region in the Outaouais and on that, we succeeded.”

Elections Canada is looking to redistribute populations in the Outaouais through the redistribution process, which is required by the Constitution Act of 1867 and the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act every 10 years.

According to Elections Canada, the current Pontiac electoral district is 27,588 square Low Down file photo kilometres and includes: the MRC des Collines, MRC Pontiac, MRC Vallée-de-la-Gatineau, the Rapid Lake and Kitigan Zibi reserves, and the Buckingham and Masson-Angers areas of the city of Gatineau. According to the 2021 Statistics Canada census, 129,781 people live in the Pontiac electoral district.

While the riding will see no geographical changes, it will be renamed “Pontiac–Kitigan Zibi.”

“You all stay with me,” laughed Chatel, adding that the changes won’t take effect until April 2024 at the earliest. “Hopefully we don’t have an election before that.”

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