In 2015, Yorkton-Melville federal election candidates will have more ground to cover.
On August 21, the Saskatchewan Electoral Boundaries Commission finalized the constituencies for the next 10 years.
Despite the dissenting opinion of one of the commissioners and a concerted campaign by Conservative MPs to derail the recommendations, the final report does not deviate much from the original. It includes five new urban-only ridings, three for Saskatoon and two for Regina.
Consequently four rural ridings, including Yorkton-Melville had to be enlarged.
The new boundary for Yorkton-Melville expands the riding east and north picking up new territory stretching almost to Humboldt in the east and past Lenore Lake in the north. It includes the towns Quill Lake, Watson, Naicam, Englefeld, Muenster, Lake Lenore, St. Brieux, Annaheim, Leroy and Spalding.
The area was formerly part of the Saskatoon-Humboldt riding. The remainder of the former Saskatoon-Humboldt district will combine with parts of four other ridings to form a new Kindersley-Rosetown-Humboldt rural riding.
The new Yorkton-Melville will also lose a small area of agricultural land just east of Melville bounded by Hwy 15 to the north and Hwy 10 to the south.
Current Yorkton-Melville MP Garry Breitkreuz, who told Yorkton This Week he is planning to run for a 10th term in two years, does not like the redistribution for both personal and political reasons.
“Our riding is large already, which makes it extremely difficult for an MP to cover,” he said pointing out there are more than 70 towns in the jurisdiction.
He also objects to it from a “communities of interest” point-of-view saying Saskatchewan is different from other provinces because agriculture is a major benefit and concern for urban and rural communities alike.
“What’s happened in the province is going to be negative for us as well because it diminishes the voice of agriculture,” he said.
The Liberals and NDP on the other hand favour the redistribution.
“We’re very happy with it,” said Greg Gallagher, president of the Yorkton-Melville Federal Liberal Association and acting Saskatchewan president. “It’s what we wanted.”
In addition to aligning with the Liberal view that the time for urban-only ridings in Saskatchewan has come, Gallagher said he sees an opportunity for his party to pick up four of the five Saskatoon and Regina ridings.
Of course the NDP have their sights set on those ridings as well having come a close second in some of the previous mixed ridings even before the realignment.
“[The NDP] will be a factor in those, but they won’t be in Yorkton-Melville, so that’s good for us,” Gallagher said.
With polls showing support for Justin Trudeau and the Liberals growing at the expense of both the Conservatives and NDP, Gallagher is optimistic 2015 could be the year for a Liberal breakthrough in a riding they have not won since its inception in 1968.
Before Breitkreuz’s nine consecutive wins, the NDP’s Lorne Nystrom held the seat for 25 years.
After the commission tabled the report in the fall of 2012, it went to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs where MPs had an opportunity to air their objections.
The committee brought forward nine objections including one that would have affected Yorkton-Melville that the communities of St. Brieux and Naicam, and surrounding areas, be moved to the Prince Albert District. The commission rejected the twofold rationale that residents work and receive public services from within the PA district and that the communities have a strong Francophone presence, which would be strengthened by inclusion with other Francophone communities in the PA district.
Of the nine requests for changes, the commission rejected seven and accepted two.
The commission moved Domremy and St. Louis, and surrounding areas, from the electoral district of Humboldt-Warman-Martensville-Rosetown to the electoral district of Prince Albert.
It also redrew the boundaries of Souris-Moose Mountain and Moose Jaw-Lake Centre-Lanigan to accommodate the request that the Rural Municipality of Elmsthorpe, the Village of Avonlea, and parts of the Rural Municipality of Terrell and of the Piapot Cree First Nation be included in the latter.