Citizens' Coalition case to bring back Mount Royal provincial riding to be in court Dec. 3 and 4

From left, Suburban editor-in-chief Beryl Wajsman, Snowdon councillor Marvin Rotrand, Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, CSL Mayor Mitchell Brownstein and Hampstead councillor Jack Edery.

The case contesting changes to the Quebec electoral map, which came into effect in the 2018 provincial election, will be before the courts Dec. 3 and 4, it was announced during a press conference at Côte St. Luc city hall Monday.

Also announced was a recently created GoFundMe page to help fund the legal challenge, at www.gofundme.com/f/electoral-map-contestation-darcy-mcgee.

On hand for the press conference were Snowdon councillor and plaintiff Marvin Rotrand, Mayors Mitchell Brownstein (CSL) and William Steinberg (Hampstead); and plaintiffs Beryl Wajsman, editor-in-chief of The Suburban, and Hampstead Councillor Jack Edery. Former D’Arcy McGee MNA and plaintiff Lawrence Bergman could not attend due to illness.

The complaint against the Director General of Elections’ riding changes is that it “unfairly reduces the voting influence of Montreal and certain other parts of Quebec in the National Assembly, while significantly over-representing some rural areas.” Also argued is that the new map, in the west end, divides ethnic communities — specifically the Filipino and Jewish communities.

More specifically, the new map eliminated the Mont Royal riding and enlarged D’Arcy McGee to the east.

Rotrand said the case has constitutional ramifications, and added that “we have to question whether such laws as Bill 21 (which bans people in positions of authority in provincial institutions from wearing religious clothing and symbols) would ever have been tabled in an Assembly that better reflects Quebec’s demographic realities.”

Rotrand has pointed out that there have been other jurisdictions whose electoral maps were changed and then reverted to their original maps, in Nova Scotia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Brownstein urged the community to help fund the case.

“This is a totally unfair situation, especially for residents of Côte St. Luc,” he said. “It’s people who elect MNAs, not regions, and every individual should have the same vote and the same power, the same right to fair representation. That’s what democracy is all about.... Right now, the power, the strength of every person’s vote in Côte St. Luc has been diminished to less than half of the vote from other ridings.” D’Arcy McGee includes Côte St. Luc, Hampstead and parts of Snowdon

Steinberg pointed out that his town has “re-endorsed the contestation and agreed to match dollar for dollar to a maximum of $7,000 of our residents’ donations to this cause.”

Wajsman said it is absurd “that a society like Quebec that has spent record amounts in diversity funding has taken away the most important service and right to an area of the largest concentration of cultural and ethnic communities in the province, which was the riding of Mont Royal.”

Wajsman added that the effects of the riding changes that took place last year are felt on a daily basis, in that constituents have problems being served in enlarged ridings.

“As a former chief of staff to [former Mount Royal MP and Justice Minister] Irwin Cotler, I know how many calls flood the offices of public officials, with real problems,” he explained. “That is what is being lost every single day. People’s needs are not being met, their suffering is not being eliminated, and injustices are not being cured because the people aren’t there. It’s an every day problem.”

Edery, an observant Jew who wears a kippah, agreed that the effects of the riding change are felt daily, citing Bill 21, which he said would likely not have come to be if “we had proper proportional representation.”

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