Alberta MP organized 'interference' opposing electoral redistricting

The New Democratic Party and Edmonton Griesbach MP Blake Desjarlais did not answer questions from the press on the matter.

Alberta MP organized 'interference' opposing electoral redistricting
Facebook/ Blake Desjarlais
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According to a federal report, an unidentified NDP MP from Alberta faces accusations of mobilizing constituents to oppose electoral redistricting.

Parliament agreed to expand the Commons by five seats in October 2021, with Alberta set to gain three additional ridings as early as 2024. The Lower Chamber will go from 338 seats to 343.

B.C. and Ontario will gain one, while Québec maintains the status quo after the feds roll-backed initial calls to drop a seat.

As a result, the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission is expected to order Elections Canada to redraw all nine federal ridings in Edmonton. The move will make room for one of those seats given to accommodate Alberta's growing population.

However, one MP attempted to pressure Commissioners in what it called "a matter of concern."

Thursday's federal report revealed incredible "political pressure" from 171 Edmonton constituents, according to Blacklock's Reporter. They emailed the Commission a voluminous influx of submissions protesting the decision upon completing in-person public hearings last September 26.

"The Commission was disappointed to receive communications that appeared to have been motivated to mobilize political pressure to influence its decision," said a final Report Of The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission For The Province Of Alberta.

While the report confirmed that the Commission reviewed all the feedback it had received, with many of the emails praising the MP and echoing talking points used by that MP at a public hearing, they said these submissions did not weigh the final decision.

However, it raised concerns about an attempt to interfere with "the integrity of the redistribution process."

"This influx appeared to be the result of a calculated effort led by a particular MP to persuade the Commission to maintain the existing electoral boundaries, thereby ensuring the MP would maintain their stronghold," wrote the Commissioners. 

The New Democratic Party and Edmonton Griesbach MP Blake Desjarlais did not answer questions from the press. Neither did the Commission. 

According to Blacklock's Reporter, Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, the only Edmonton MP to testify at a March 23 House affairs committee hearing on the redistricting, had no involvement in the pressure tactics.

"He is not the MP referenced here," said a spokesperson.

Desjarlais, serving his first term after winning an election over incumbent Conservative MP Kerry Diotte by 1,500 votes, is Canada's first 'two-spirited' federal elected representative.

"I am honoured to be the first openly two-spirited Member of Parliament elected to this chamber," he said in his maiden speech. "As a young Indigenous queer person, I know that representation matters."

The tabling of reports and a subsequent representation order give Elections Canada seven months to redraw the federal map, reported Blacklock's Reporter.

Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault testified on May 18 at the House Affairs Committee that they would hold an election on the new map next year should one be called. He acknowledged that "redistribution creates uncertainty and challenges for political parties."

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  • By Ezra Levant

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