|REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE||THURSDAY, February 17, 2005|
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
has the honour to present its
Your Committee, to which was referred Bill C-302, An Act to change the name to the electoral district of Kitchener – Wilmot – Wellesley - Woolwich , has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Tuesday, December 7, 2004, examined the said Bill and now reports the same without amendment but with observations, which are appended to this report.
to the Third Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Bill C-302 is a Private Member’s Bill that changes the name of the electoral district of “Kitchener – Wilmot – Wellesley – Woolwich” to that of “Kitchener – Connestoga.” Your Committee heard testimony to the effect that a previous Bill (Bill C-20-, S.C. 2004, c.19) contained an error. Most people in the riding concerned had thought agreement had been reached on the name Kitchener – Connestoga, and the election had been held under it. Bill C-20, however, changed that name to one that most thought was inappropriately long.
Your Committee accepts the uncontradicted testimony before us that a mistake was made in 2004. It is not your Committee’s role to assess where the blame for such a mistake should be placed. Your Committee does wish to comment, however, on the process used to change the names of electoral districts once a Representation Order has come into force following each decennial census.
The origin of the need for Bill C-302 is not the Representation Order, but rather the Bill in the spring of 2004 that we mentioned above. When your Committee reported that Bill to the Chamber on May 6, 2004, we observed, as we had repeatedly over the last four years, that the process for changing riding names should be open and transparent. We reiterated our previous recommendation that, before a name is changed by an Act of Parliament, there should be a requirement for public notice in the constituency concerned and provision made for public consultation, following Guidelines provided by the Chief Electoral Officer. Had notice been given and input sought on the proposal to change the name of the electoral district of Kitchener – Connestoga, it is highly likely that the error in Bill C-20 would have been caught, and the present Bill rendered unnecessary.
Every change of name of an electoral district leads to additional costs and work for Elections Canada. The process for changing names should reflect that fact, and should also reflect the great degree to which local residents often identify with the name of an electoral district. They deserve to be consulted. For those reasons, your Committee once again urges the adoption of an open and transparent process for changing the names of electoral districts by Act of Parliament.