By Robert Washburn
As the number of politicians opposed to electoral boundary changes in Northumberland-Quinte West is growing, the public still remains passive.
However, some pretty smart people from inside the political class in the county are making compelling arguments against the changes. Here are some of them:
Certainly, the most obvious is the name Northumberland County. Removing this from the political map is going to hurt a lot of people, organizations and municipalities. It is the way we have identified ourselves since the earliest days of settlement.
Another incredibly obvious point is the divergent interests of this massive area. Lindsay, Port Hope and Cobourg have little in common. Once the railway joined them together, a really long time ago. But that was it. Since Confederation, these have never been in the same electoral district.
It is going to undermine the county level of government. To get anything done, how is the county supposed to get heard at the federal and provincial level of government? It will need to lobby two MPs and two MPPs every time. Nothing could be more ridiculous. It is a formula for paralysis.
A proposal is circulating in Liberal circles proposing the expansion of Northumberland to include the old Clarke Township to the west and Cavan-Monaghan to the north. It would create a new riding called Northumberland-Pine Ridge.
This has a bit more historic validity since Durham and Northumberland were once joined. And, taking in the north side of Rice Lake would do little to harm the riding. Most people come south to Port Hope and Cobourg for shopping and economic activity. Also, many current non-government county services stretch into these areas.
Allowing Quinte West to join Hastings would make a lot of sense, too, as the proposal suggests.
Until the Electoral Boundaries Commission or local political representatives provide a map with poll by poll results for the past five elections showing results, this entire things reeks of political manipulation. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government are not beyond total contempt for federal agencies and departments. We watched this with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and Statistics Canada. These politicians are ruthless.