THUNDER BAY – Northern Ontario may have two more seats at Queen's Park.
The proposed Far North Electoral Boundaries Commission could recommend increasing the number of seats in the North from 11 to either 12 or 13 by splitting Ontario’s two northernmost — and geographically largest — ridings. The two ridings likely to split would be the massive Kenora-Rainy River and Timmins-James Bay.
In an interview with CKPR Radio Thursday, Northern Development, Mines and Forestry Minister Michael Gravelle (MPP, Thunder Bay-Superior North) said this legislation will give the people the province’s far north the same opportunity to have their voices heard as other parts of the province.
“There’s no question Kenora-Rainy River is a huge riding,” Gravelle said. “There are scores, literally, of First Nations communities and northern communities in that riding and the same goes for Timmins-James Bay.”
Having a strong representation of the Indigenous communities in the province is important, and it’s a way to ensure their voice will be reflected in the representation they have.
Gravelle said it’s about ensuring representation is there, their voices are heard, and there’s a chance for those communities to express their point of view on the provincial legislation.
“I hope it’s viewed positively by everyone,” he said.
“I can’t speak for any of the other MPPs that I know nor can I speak for the people in the remote communities other than to say this is an opportunity for their voices to truly be heard in a very direct way.”
Gravelle added that the government wants to improve the voting experience, encourage more people to vote, and they want people to feel they are being strongly represented.
The Far North Electoral Boundaries Commission is a reflection of the government’s commitment to ensuring people voices are heard.
“When you have ridings such as Kenora-Rainy River and Timmins-James Bay that have, literally, scores of communities who do not have full year round access, I think it’s crucial we move in this direction,” Gravelle said.
“I believe this is something that time has come and I am very strongly supportive of it.”