Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my concerns to the House regarding the proposed changes to the electoral boundaries and in particular to those changes which would affect the ridings in northern Ontario.
The present proposal calls for the elimination of two seats in northern Ontario. It is my view that this would lead to a further erosion of the voice of northerners in Parliament. It would reinforce the image that northern Ontario is a sparsely populated hinterland whose concerns and aspirations really do not need to be heard.
In realigning these boundaries the commission formulated all its changes based on population levels alone. Certainly this is not the most comprehensive method which could be used for such an important undertaking.
Northern Ontario encompasses two-thirds of the province and is home for a significant number of French, English and native Canadians. Our region is as diverse as any other region in Canada. Therefore it should have electoral boundaries which encapsulate those regional enclaves which share many of the same economic, geographic and cultural characteristics.
I believe that if these new boundaries are accepted they will not only weaken the voice of northerners-