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Results: 1 - 15 of 19
View Maurice Vellacott Profile
CPC (SK)
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and committee members.
It's a privilege to be here and to present to you today. Hopefully we will get a better, more sane, realignment of boundaries for the province of Saskatchewan. I obviously, as well, in my indication to the committee, oppose the proposed boundaries and I'll lay out some of the reasons here now.
I am very much in support of the historical trading patterns, blended urban-rural, ex-urban kinds of boundaries that we've had in the past. I will indicate the biggest problems that I have with the current proposal.
Right from the get-go, Professor Courtney—I'll go right to this issue, I may have some questions on it later—had a fixed mindset and a determination before even a word of testimony was heard. In fact I had reported to me conversations that occurred at the orientation here in Ottawa before there were any meetings, before there were any witnesses heard at all, where Professor Courtney was talking adamantly of needing the urban-only boundaries in the province of Saskatchewan, particularly in the major cities of Saskatoon and Regina.
To me, that does a great disservice, a disrespect that denigrates the process, when one of the commissioners—a reputable, respected gentleman otherwise—has a mindset and a predetermination of having urban boundaries, and then tries to collect evidence to justify it afterwards. To me that is a disservice. He probably should have recused himself at the point that he realized he had this set, determined mindset from the get-go.
How else can one explain the very humongous ridings, for example, all the way from my boyhood home of Quill Lake, way across, looping around Saskatoon over to Rosetown, a stretch of probably three or four hours or more, depending on how heavy your foot is. How else do you explain that?
How do you explain their comments saying that these ridings, these newly proposed boundaries, are now no larger than the ones that presently exist in Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Souris—Moose Mountain, and the Yorkton—Melville ridings.
If you were to ask those members of Parliament.... Then they make the almost asinine statement that those members did not indicate that they were inadequately serving the needs of their constituents. What member of Parliament is going to say that? It's a fairly asinine comment, in my particular view.
You should talk to those MPs, in terms of chasing from one end to the other on weekends, away from Parliament here. Talk to the spouses of those MPs, as I have done, in terms of their having to be at events at opposite or disparate ends of those particular ridings. They talked in terms of using modern communications, which we all do, electronic and so on, but in a high-tech age we should also still use high-touch, that will always be the case.
The younger generation want to talk to you directly, middle-aged older people.... Imagine what it would have been like, if Jack Layton, in his last campaign—where he did remarkably for the NDP—had said, “I'm going to do this by Skype. I'm going to do it by the modern electronic means”. You would not catch the enthusiasm of a Jack Layton. You would not catch the excitement that he brought in that setting, or his charisma. You cannot possibly figure to serve the needs of constituents simply by Skyping and those things, which the House of Commons doesn't allow anyhow.
What would it have been like if Justin Trudeau, instead of travelling extensively to bars and malls and schools, and everywhere across the country, would have said, “I'll do it by Skype”. Of course, he uses all the modern technology, but that is no replacement for direct contact with people, and Justin Trudeau was all across the country. I point out Jack Layton and Justin Trudeau, of late, and how they went across the country, first-hand, meeting people. There's something captured that way that you don't capture electronically.
I have some letters in hand here. There's the one that's maybe been referenced here before, from the mayor of the city of Saskatoon, and Mr. Fougere as well has indicated his opposition. Mr. Atchison, the mayor of Saskatoon, says it makes no sense. It does not promote unity. It doesn't work with the regional kind of thing that we're encouraging in Saskatchewan.
I have a letter here as well, that you have in French and English, from the mayor of Warman, a city just on the edge of Saskatoon, and she opposes it as well. She says that when we think and work regionally now.... Recently there was a water main break in Saskatoon and they were on a boil water advisory in Saskatoon, but also in the cities of Warman and Martensville, because we have a common water system and a common infrastructure tying them together. Now they've cut those communities off from one another. Alan Thomarat, who is the CEO of the Home Builders' Association in Saskatchewan, makes this point well in a piece that was in your package, too.
Lastly, one of the councillors in my riding, Randy Donauer by name, also opposes it. He talks about the need to work together regionally, and more and more we're doing that as the cities and towns in the area close to Saskatoon.
I think it's never too late for these individuals to do the right thing and reverse themselves. I have a proposal of a bare minimum that could be done, but I can come to that later, in the question period.
View Maurice Vellacott Profile
CPC (SK)
Right, absolutely. I want to correct a slight distinction here because I think my colleagues over here are.... I'm probably more hopeful in some sense that there would still be a change back to tweaking at the edges, and so on, of the current boundaries as they presently are. I, as well, would agree to that as a bare minimum, so I don't think we're differing there.
But you're absolutely right. Mr. Courtney, no less, reputed scholar and so on, is reported to have had conversations around this place at the orientation, before having heard a word of testimony, that he was adamant or dogmatic to do urban-only ridings. That's not on, and it's not supposed to be the way the process is done.
View Maurice Vellacott Profile
CPC (SK)
I didn't use the word “bias”. I said a mindset, a predetermined approach to this whole thing by way of having urban. So I'm not saying bias so much. It's maybe an academic abstraction that he takes up on this.
View Maurice Vellacott Profile
CPC (SK)
I think there were two individuals. One in particular, Mr. Courtney, had obviously, as was reported at orientation sessions here, wanted to do urban-only, notwithstanding possibly he would change. I'm hopeful that he would. I think he's an honourable man and he can reverse himself. But if he's obstinate and obtuse, then there's a bare minimum that I would suggest, which is Silverwood’s coming into Saskatoon West, and the downtown going into Saskatoon—University.
View Maurice Vellacott Profile
CPC (SK)
I would just simply say that if you won't listen to me then you'll listen to Mr. Courtney, who contradicts himself in reporting from one of his very own books. On page 113, he says:An arbitrary statutory provision that mandates the creation of separate rural and urban seats or that prohibits designing hybrid rural-urban seats ignores the fact that social interests are layered in multiple ways and that only one of these is place of residence. Highways and mass transportation have made it easy for some who live in a city to work, seek recreation, or have a social life outside a city. Equally, many who live on the fringes of a city but beyond its actual municipal borders have their place of employment, are entertained, do their shopping, or are educated in the city.
He disagrees with himself and agrees with me by way of this quote, on page 113, from his 2001 book called Commissioned Ridings: Designing Canada's Electoral Districts. So I don't back away one bit from saying it is disrespectful. It maligns the process. It's not the way. You should have an open mind—I think, Mr. Dion, you would appreciate that—before you come into the process. All of us here, if you're picking up some slight difference, you're maybe overplaying it because we all oppose the proposed ridings and we'd prefer that it goes back to tweaking the boundaries as they currently exist in some fashion to get the equalization of population.
View Maurice Vellacott Profile
CPC (SK)
I think some of those you were counting as rural ridings actually have small cities within the various parts of them—
View Maurice Vellacott Profile
CPC (SK)
Percentage-wise they are not primarily rural. They're actually blended urban-rural even at that, so we probably have no ridings. Possibly Desnethé–Missinippi–Churchill River is a purely rural riding. The others have some small cities within.
View Maurice Vellacott Profile
CPC (SK)
The city of Saskatoon takes in rural as well and those particular health regions, which I served on myself, so I know that quite well. Actually, the greater city planning district is also now sectored or divided, if you will, and some of the greater Saskatoon planning district is cut off from the city of Saskatoon.
I live on an acreage on the edge of the city, and it's part of the greater Saskatoon planning district. It's now cut off from the city of Saskatoon, so I'm not sure if they didn't know of those maps or weren't aware of them, but they did not layer them into their equations here at all.
View Maurice Vellacott Profile
CPC (SK)
I don't know what you're suggesting by way of what type of bias; perhaps an academic bias, if you will, or abstractions.
When he, in conversations around this place during the orientation, said we must—this is not my language, this is his language—do urban-only ridings in Saskatoon and Regina, he was using an adamant kind of language, dogmatic language. I don't know how else to interpret the fact, but he had a predetermined mindset from the get-go. Obviously, then, you're going to filter everything else out, or at least when it pertains to Saskatoon and Regina you can only hear what you want to hear in respect to urban. So I would stand by that.
You're quite correct. I used terms like those. I think it is disrespectful to the process when a commissioner is supposed to have an open mindset. I think it does a disservice to the electoral boundary distribution process. It denigrates it. Those are my statements based on his own comment, and actually his own book that he wrote in 2001 as well.
View Maurice Vellacott Profile
CPC (SK)
It's not a question so much as a response to Mr. Cash.
I don't know his family situation or whether he has children, but we know in life that you often will require positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. That's just the nature of life, all the way through life.
Certainly, as you have well suggested, as MPs we should encourage the proud display of the flag, but sometimes, when people have different ideas, there are also negative reinforcements to be sure that others have permission to do so. I think he would well know and reach into his own experience of life to know that you sometimes require to have positive reinforcement combined with the negative reinforcement to be sure there is follow-through and that what you would prefer to happen is possible.
View Maurice Vellacott Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Chair, does the three include the chair? Is the chair part of that number?
View Maurice Vellacott Profile
CPC (SK)
Just on that matter, I assume the staff are bound by the same rules of confidentiality at in camera meetings as the members are.
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