By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Conservative MP Dean Allison could be waving goodbye to his Hamilton area constituents by the next federal election.
The three-member Federal Electoral Boundary Commission for Ontario has proposed to eliminate the Niagara West-Glanbrook riding and create a separate Hamilton riding called Waterdown-Glanbrook.
“It’s good for Hamilton,” said Allison, who has been the only federal MP for the Niagara West-Glanbrook riding since it was created in 2004. “The city deserves it.”
The Niagara West-Glanbrook area stretches from the Township of Lincoln, Grimsby, West Lincoln, and crosses into Hamilton to include Glanbrook, and Mount Hope, all the way to Glancaster Road. The riding was created after the last federal electoral boundary review from parts of the ridings of Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot, Erie-Lincoln, Hamilton Mountain, Niagara Centre, and Stoney Creek.
“There are two different areas,” Allison concedes of his sprawling district. “But the people (in the riding) still have similar issues.”
The commission, chaired by Ontario Justice George Valin, is proposing to create a new riding called Niagara West, which would end at the boundary to the city ofHamilton. It will include a portion of Thorold, south of St. Catharines.
“What (the commission) is proposing makes sense,” said Allison.
The proposed Waterdown-Glanbrook riding would encompass Glanbrook, Upper Stoney Creek and Mount Hope, but also ring around Hamilton to take in rural Ancaster and Flamborough, up to the Town of Puslinch.
“I would miss the people of Upper Stoney Creek and Glanbrook,” said Allison. “They are good people. It would very sad to lose them.”
The commission is also splitting the current Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale into Waterdown-Glanbrook, and Ancaster, which will include the urban areas of Dundas, Westdale and Ancaster, plus a portion of HamiltonMountainup to Garth Street.
Valin said in a recent interview a new riding was needed inHamiltonbecause of the population growth alongHamiltonMountain. He also acknowledged the proposed new riding of Waterdown-Glanbrook would provide some clarity for residents in the area who found themselves in an electoral district that was mainly based in Niagara.
“We hope we have cleared up any confusion,” he said.
In his first political campaign in 2004 for the new riding, Allison edged Grimsbypolitician Debbie Zimmerman 20,874 votes to 20,210 votes. It was the last close election he had. Allison has been comfortably re-elected in 2006, 2008 and 2011, each time receiving more votes.
Despite his success, Allison isn’t assuming he will be nominated in the new riding of Niagara West. He said if the proposed riding’s boundaries remain, he could have a tougher time with the possibility of more competition.
“You never know what will happen,” he said. “People will always want to voice their views.”
Hamilton’s new riding is one of 15 extra districts Ontario is getting for the next federal election. Ontario has 107 electoral districts, of which 96 are identical to the federal boundaries.Quebec is receiving three additional seats, while British Columbia andAlberta are getting six each. The total number of districts will jump in the House of Commons from 308 to 338.
“Ontario has been under represented for years,” said Allison, applauding the extra districts.
Under the federal government legislation, the public will have 23 days to comment on the report.Hamiltonwill host public meetings Oct. 25 at theCrown Plaza and Oct. 26 at the Marriott Hamilton Hotel. Both times begin at 11 a.m. Other nearby public sessions include Niagara Falls’ city hall Oct. 29 at 1 p.m., and Oakville’s Holiday Inn and Suits Oct. 30 at 1 p.m.
Valin said once the public sessions are completed, commission members, Doug Colbourn, a Toronto-area arbitrator, and Leslie Pal, a professor atCarletonUniversity, will review the information, and then present their report to a House of Commons committee by mid-February, 2013. Politicians have 30 days to respond to the boundary report.
“It gives a politician one last go at it,” said Valin. “We are not required to make any changes though.”
The final report will be sent toCanada’s chief electoral officer before June.
To make a presentation, notify the commission no later than Oct. 1 by e-mail at Ontario@rfed-rcf.ca.