Ontario to create new Indigenous, Francophone ridings in north
Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi speaks in Hamilton, Ont. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)
Allison Jones, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, August 8, 2017 3:54PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 8, 2017 5:16PM EDT
TORONTO -- Ontario's north is set to get two more seats in time for next year's provincial election, one of which would be a primarily Indigenous riding.
The Liberal government will introduce legislation in the fall to implement two new ridings called Kiiwetinoong and Mushkegowuk, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi announced Tuesday.
Those two new ridings -- in addition to 15 others already planned across the rest of the province -- would bring Ontario's provincial total up to 124.
The government had tasked a Far North Electoral Boundaries Commission with looking at whether the region needed one or two more ridings and it said the overwhelming majority of feedback it received was that two should be created.
That means the area would include: the riding of Kiiwetinoong, a majority Indigenous riding; Mushkegowuk, a majority Francophone riding including the Weenusk (Peawanuck) First Nation; Kenora-Rainy River, including Dryden, Fort Frances, Kenora and Rainy River; and Timmins.
Kiiwetinoong, which is the Ojibwa word for North, will have a population of 32,987 -- 68 per cent of whom are Indigenous.
Mushkegowuk, which the commission said is roughly translated in Swampy Cree as people of the swamp land, will have a population of 30,037 -- 27 per cent of whom are Indigenous and 60 per cent of whom are Francophone.
The commission's final report said it believes creating the additional ridings would lead to more effective representation for Ontarians living in the Far North.
"In our view, enhanced political representation for Indigenous peoples in Ontario's political system is a necessary component of the broader movement toward reconciliation," the commission wrote.
During consultations, the commission heard some feedback on reluctance from many Indigenous people to participate in provincial politics, fearing it could come at the expense of Indigenous self-government, the report said.
"The (commission) nonetheless firmly believes that increasing Indigenous representation in the provincial legislature can be complementary -- rather than in opposition -- to Indigenous self-government, if established with consent and in the spirit of reconciliation."