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Saturday, October 10, 2015

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Mount Royal riding should stay as is: report

Irwin Cotler

MONTREAL — The riding of Mount Royal will likely remain as is for the next federal election after the commission studying proposed changes to the federal electoral map recommended something close to the status quo.

The district’s Liberal MP since 1999, former justice minister Irwin Cotler, who led the opposition to the elimination of Mount Royal, said he was “delighted” by the report of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Quebec that was tabled in the House of Commons on Feb. 25.

“The initial proposal of the Commission called for the dismantling of the riding, erasing even the name ‘Mount Royal’ from the Quebec electoral map,” he said. “I am delighted that today’s report preserves this historic riding, benefiting both the communities and residents therein.”

Mount Royal is one of two ridings in the country with a Jewish plurality. The other is Thornhill in the Toronto area.

The proposal was that the territory that is now Mount Royal, which was created in 1925, be split into three ridings, most of it in the proposed new John Peters Humphrey riding.

The former Mount Royal would have lost much of its eastern territory in Côte des Neiges-Snowdon and would have been extended west to include Dorval and St. Laurent. The city of Côte St. Luc, which is now wholly within Mount Royal, would have straddled two ridings.

But the commission recommends that Mount Royal stay virtually as it is.

John Peters Humphrey was the first director of the United Nations human rights division and the principal drafter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Noting that Mount Royal’s population is about 36 per cent Jewish, Cotler said at the commission’s public hearings last fall that the changes would “dramatically undermine the ‘community of interest and identity,’” one of the criteria that the law stipulates should be considered when drawing electoral district boundaries. Other ethnic communities in multicultural Mount Royal would also be adversely affected, he said.

The Council on Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), Federation CJA and its social services agency Ometz, as well as the YM-YWHA, the Jewish General Hospital, the Jewish Russian Community Centre and Congregation Shomrim Laboker also made submissions to the commission. They said Mount Royal should remain as it is, because carving up the territory would divide the community and separate it from its institutions.

“CIJA is very pleased that the commission took our recommendations into account and decided to leave this historical riding – important to the Jewish community – within the same boundaries, and keep the name Mount Royal,” said Jonathan Kalles, the organization’s associate director of government relations.

The commission’s report will now be put before a Commons committee for debate prior to the next election in 2015.

Cotler said he’s confident “the integrity of Mount Royal will remain and the recommendation of the commission for this riding will be confirmed.”

Canada’s electoral map is reviewed every 10 years after the census is conducted to reflect population growth and shifts. Quebec is set to receive three additional seats, bringing its total to 78.

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