MONTREAL — Liberal MP Irwin Cotler said he would rally constituents and even consider going to court to prevent historic Mount Royal riding from being “dismembered.”
Under proposals revealed July 16 by the independent Federal Elections Boundaries Commission, the 88-year-old riding and Liberal bastion represented for 19 years by Pierre Elliott Trudeau would be renamed John-Peters-Humphrey, in honour of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights author.
But the new riding would lose an important part of the Cote des Neiges district east of Victoria Avenue that includes the Jewish General Hospital and Cotler’s own riding office, also the office for 15 years of his predecessor, the late Sheila Finestone.
The changed riding would instead extend westward to Dorval to Sources Road and incorporate Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport.
Right now, Mount Royal includes Cote St. Luc, Hampstead, Town of Mount Royal, and a large part of Cote des Neiges in Montreal proper. More than 36 per cent of the riding’s 100,000 population is Jewish with a significant francophone and multicultural mix.
“This proposal is a breach of the commission’s own guidelines to take into account the historic patterns,” Cotler told The CJN from Israel on July 20. “You can’t just disregard its community of interest. It shows a lack of awareness, if not disregard, for the riding’s history, its physical integrity and community identity.”
“There was no consultation with the sitting MP, with constituents or with municipal leaders. No consultation with anybody.”
He called the proposals “arbitrary” and “uninformed.”
“The riding would be completely ruptured,” Cotler said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
The three Federal Election Boundary commissioners in Quebec made the proposals as part of the commission’s mandate to re-examine the distribution of federal electoral seats after the release of the results of the 2011 census. Similar examinations are made in all 10 provinces by separate groups of commissioners.
In Quebec, the proposals announced last week included increasing the total number of federal ridings from 75 to 78 in light of population increases, and having most of existing federal ridings renamed or reconfigured.