Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-377, introduced by my colleague, the member for Châteauguay—Lacolle. The bill proposes to change the name of her riding to “Châteauguay—Les Jardins-de-Napierville”.
As members of the House know, the municipality of Lacolle, which is currently included in the name of my colleague's electorate district, is actually located in the neighbouring riding of Saint-Jean. This is confusing for residents in both ridings, and this legislation has received support from the hon. member for Saint-Jean in the neighbouring riding.
Our government in turn supports this bill, because it just makes sense. In fact, at first reading of Bill C-377 on December 6, 2017, we heard from hon. members on both sides of the House who support the objectives that this legislation sets out to accomplish.
In addressing his support for the legislation, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent stated that:
I appreciated the speech by my colleague from Châteauguay—Lacolle, a riding whose name will change in due time. I want to reassure her straight off that the official opposition fully agrees with the substance of the bill and that we will be supporting the measure.
As my hon. colleague has shown, there is indeed a major anomaly in the name of the riding, which refers to Lacolle, a place that is not even located in the riding of Châteauguay—Lacolle, but rather in that of Saint-Jean.
I fully understand my colleague's need to change the name of the riding to Châteauguay—Les Jardins-de-Napierville. As my other Conservative and NDP colleagues said, we understand and commend the initiative shown by the member in consulting her constituents, doing historical research, and keeping an election promise. That is why we are going to vote in favour of her bill.
Like members of Parliament themselves, constituency offices must be accessible to their constituents, and all members of Parliament are here to represent and voice the concerns of their constituents.
In listening to her constituents, the member for Châteauguay—Lacolle introduced Bill C-377 and told the House that the riding name causes “confusion” for the constituents of both her riding and the neighbouring riding of Saint-Jean. Her proposed new riding name would result in a more exact description by incorporating the important regional county municipality of Les Jardins-de-Napierville.
Once this legislation is passed, my colleague for Châteauguay—Lacolle will be able to return to her riding, knowing she has listened to the concerns of her constituents, and as a result, acted and made change on their behalf. For that reason, she should be very proud of her work.
I would like to share a personal anecdote that demonstrates the importance of riding names.
I am very fortunate to be the member of Parliament for Halifax. It is a short, simple name. It fits really well on any communication product. It is not a mouthful, making it easy for me to introduce myself to constituents without confusing them. It also has the very fun and distinguished history of being one of only four riding names that date all the way back to the beginning of the Canadian Confederation in 1867. I would never want to have it changed, but it does come with some challenges.
The boundaries for the federal riding of Halifax are smaller than the municipal boundaries for Halifax. In fact, the municipality of Halifax includes four federal ridings, mine and three others: Halifax West, Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, and Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook. However, because residents of all these federal ridings are also residents of the municipality of Halifax, many people in these adjacent federal ridings often believe I am their member of Parliament because I am the MP for Halifax.
This means that people often contact my office for help when they are in fact not my constituents. We would, of course, love to help them, and in most cases do get them what they need to know, but as every MP here knows, we already have a substantial number of constituents who we must represent and care for, and in Nova Scotia that number is between 70,000 to 90,000 constituents each. That is to say, we already have our work cut out for us in order to serve our constituents well.
This is an example of how my riding name impacts the day-to-day operations of my office, and I am sure there are stories similar to mine and to that of the member for Châteauguay—Lacolle, which demonstrate the importance of accurate riding names.
Our government believes Canadians deserve access to their member of Parliament, and by extension, our government is also committed to helping and encouraging more Canadians to vote. The Minister of Democratic Institutions has spoken passionately about the need for us to do everything we can to encourage, and not discourage, democratic participation. In fact, we are expanding the voting franchise to more Canadians by reversing elements of the previous government's Fair Elections Act, which actually made voting more difficult and unnecessarily complicated for Canadians.
If passed by Parliament, this act will let more Canadians vote and make it easier for them to do so. It will help enhance the integrity of our electoral system as well as people's confidence in it.
Another issue the Minister of Democratic Institutions is examining is cybersecurity. In accordance with her mandate letter from the Prime Minister, the minister presented a threat assessment from the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, to analyze the risks to Canada's political and electoral activities from hackers. The fact is political parties have been the victims of cyber-attacks in other countries, and those attacks are attempts to destabilize and undermine—