moved that Bill C-377, An Act to change the name of the electoral district of Châteauguay—Lacolle, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, today is a big day for my constituents. It is an important milestone in my first move as member of Parliament, which I undertook on behalf of my constituents, to change the name of our riding, Châteauguay—Lacolle, to “Châteauguay—Les Jardins-de-Napierville”.
The reason behind this bill is that the name Châteauguay—Lacolle is inaccurate. If we look at a map of my riding, we see that the municipality of Lacolle is actually in the neighbouring riding of my hon. colleague from Saint-Jean. The municipality in my riding is Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, a municipality with its own history, its own institutions, and its own raison d'être.
Even before I took office, the residents of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle talked to me about this issue, and I pledged to do whatever I had to do to remedy the situation. It is with that in mind that I have the honour to rise today in the House. As if it were not enough that the name Lacolle is erroneously used to designate Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, which is not at all the same thing, we have also noted several times in the past two years that the name Châteauguay—Lacolle is confusing for the constituents of both ridings and has created misunderstandings for some stakeholders.
The names Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle and Lacolle are often used interchangeably by different stakeholders, such as representatives of national media, mainly because what is referred to as the Lacolle border crossing, which is located on Highway 15, the main road between Montreal and New York, and is the busiest border crossing into the United States, is located in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, not in Lacolle.
I am sure my colleagues are aware that the situation at the Lacolle border crossing these past few months, the influx of asylum seekers from the United States, has helped sustain the incorrect name. However, there is good news. For the most part, those involved have managed to set the record straight in recent months.
Many citizens have told me they do not like the name Châteauguay—Lacolle, not only for the reasons I have just explained, but also because it is damaging to the pride that the people of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle take in their municipality and to their feeling of belonging. Following many discussions and conversations with the people and organizations of this region, the name Châteauguay—Les Jardins-de-Napierville emerged as a logical and meaningful choice for a number of reasons.
First, Les Jardins-de-Napierville is the name of a regional county municipality that includes nine of our 15 municipalities. Second, the main city, Châteauguay, is located at the northwest end of the riding, whereas the RCM of Jardins-de-Napierville includes the nine municipalities located in the southern and eastern parts of the riding. Most of the residents of the other six municipalities self-identify as being from Grand Châteauguay, a name we hear a lot. All of the citizens, those from the Châteauguay region and those from the RCM of Jardins-de-Napierville, could identify with the name Châteauguay—Les Jardins-de-Napierville.
The Jardins-de-Napierville RCM, whose beauty is represented by the word “Jardins” or gardens, is known for being the top market gardening region in Quebec. Lastly, the name Châteauguay—Les Jardins-de-Napierville is a good representation of the semi-urban, semi-rural nature of our riding.
I would also like to talk about a very special person who contributed greatly to choosing the name Châteauguay—Les Jardins-de-Napierville. I am talking about the late mayor of Napierville, Jacques Délisle.
If memory serves, he was the first to propose this name. This dedicated man, who left a remarkable legacy to his municipality, may also end up leaving his mark on the entire riding.
I would point out that I am sponsoring this bill for my constituents. A petition calling on the House of Commons to change the name of our riding to Châteauguay—Les Jardins-de-Napierville has been circulating in the region for weeks. The response has been excellent. The petition has already been signed by people from all around our riding, including, of course, the mayors of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle and neighbouring towns. As elected officials, they are pleased to support my initiative on behalf of their constituents, as are my hon. colleagues from Saint-Jean, La Prairie, and, I believe, Salaberry—Suroît.
Since I still have a bit of time, I now have the pleasure of giving a brief history lesson to all those listening and watching. As indicated in my bill, the riding of Châteauguay—Lacolle was created in 2013, following a redistribution that came into effect with the dissolution of the 41st Parliament in 2015.
The current riding was formed from the former ridings of Châteauguay—Saint-Constant and Beauharnois—Salaberry. It seems the Quebec electoral boundaries commission erred when it named the new riding. The fact that Lacolle became part of the Saint-Jean riding during a previous redistribution process probably went unnoticed. We do not know what happened, but one can imagine.
After doing some research and discussing the matter with the mayor of Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, I think there may have been some confusion between Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle and Lacolle.
Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle is a parish municipality that was established in 1855 in honour of Bernard-Claude Panet, Quebec's 12th archbishop.
The Lacolle part of the name comes from the name of the seigneury to which the land once belonged. Today, Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle has a population of about 1,500. Lacolle is a village municipality that was established in 1920 and officially constituted in 2001, and now has a population of about 2,800.
Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle was established long before Lacolle, but it has developed more slowly in recent decades and its population has not grown as much as that of its neighbour. That is why the municipality of Lacolle is better known.
Now that we have a better understanding of the history of our region, please allow me to outline how name changes come about and the criteria any proposed name change, including that proposed by my bill, Bill C-377, must meet.
First, given the practice of reviewing electoral district boundaries every 10 years following a new national census, Elections Canada provides the 10 provincial electoral boundaries commissions with guidelines on riding name conventions and best practices. While Elections Canada will enact any name changes legislated by Parliament, there are practical and technical issues that must be considered, such as the limited capacity of databases. Thus, riding names are limited to 50 characters or less in order to enable the easy display of the riding names on websites, maps and paper reports, as well as easily readable geographic products.
I note for the record that the name proposed by the bill before us, Châteauguay—Les Jardins-de-Napierville, has 38 characters, including hyphens, dashes, and spaces.
My understanding is that any changes to federal electoral district names would require royal assent no later than January 2019 to be effected prior to the next federal election. According to the legislative timelines of our Parliament, I am hopeful that Bill C-377 will come into force in a timely manner.
The name selected for ridings should reflect the character of Canada and be clear and unambiguous. I believe this criterion is met by my bill, as the names refer to a major municipality in our area and a regional municipal county region.
Third, a distinction is also to be made in the spelling of names between hyphens and dashes. I would ask members to listen carefully. Hyphens are used to link parts of geographical names, whereas dashes are used to unite two or more distinct geographical names. This convention is respected, as a dash is used to separate Châteauguay and Les Jardins-de-Napierville and the hyphens are kept in Les Jardins-de-Napierville.
Elections Canada's guidelines also have positive characteristics that are all met in the proposed new name, for example, the sense of the location and the logical order of multiple elements. On the electoral map, we see that Châteauguay and Les Jardins-de-Napierville are two geographical names that correspond almost entirely to the territory of the riding and conform to a reading of the map from west to east, in other words, from left to right.
The name of an electoral district must be unique, meaning the components of each federal electoral district name should be used only once, which is indeed the case for the elements Châteauguay and Les Jardins-de-Napierville.
Finally, I should note the preservation of tradition is important and that it is quite acceptable to have same or similar names for both federal and provincial constituencies when their core areas embrace the same population centres. This is the case for the name of Châteauguay, which is the name of a provincial riding that includes Greater Châteauguay, consisting of Léry, Mercier, and St. Isidore, as well as the City of Châteauguay representing more than half of the population in our federal riding.
The guidelines also contain negative characteristics that are all avoided in the name Châteauguay-Les-Jardins-de-Napierville. However, I will name only those that do not correspond to the inverse expression of the positive characteristics already enumerated, and that are therefore already understood implicitly.
I can repeat that point if necessary, but I will give the House some examples.
The name of a federal electoral district should be clear in both English and French, and as much as possible be acceptable without translation into the other official language, thus avoiding multiple forms, possible inconsistencies, and confusion. Another characteristic to be avoided is the use of cardinal points such as east or west. This would only encourage clumsy translation between official languages.
The incorrect use of hyphens and dashes is to be avoided at all cost. Bill C-377 correctly uses a dash to designate the City of Châteauguay within the name, while the individual words of the region of Jardine are correctly separated by hyphens.
For the record, the use of actual names of provinces, personal names, and names that are imprecise or contrived from non-geographical sources are also to be avoided.
I believe that I have raised all of the arguments that should satisfy my hon. colleagues here in the House that the name proposed by Bill C-377, Châteauguay-Les Jardins-de-Napierville, respects all of the pertinent guidelines of Elections Canada.
I would like to use the remainder of my time to paint a picture of my wonderful riding, which is blessed with splendid natural beauty, lands full of riches, a vibrant economy, and really wonderful people.
My riding is located in the province of Quebec, on Montreal's south shore, in western Montérégie. It is made up of 15 municipalities, including Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle.
I am also very grateful to represent a riding that is semi-urban and semi-rural. The city of Châteaugay, with its 48,000 residents, including over 15,000 anglophones and allophones, boasts a major industrial area that is home to many innovative businesses.
In contrast, most of the surface area of the riding is rural, and we are also very proud of our agriculture and agrifood industry.
I look forward to my colleagues' questions. I could go on for hours about my riding, Châteauguay—Lacolle, and provide much more detailed information.