Opinion » Maxed Out

The 600-pound crustacean in the riding

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When I heard — and I've admittedly been a bit out of touch lately — Whistler was going to be redistricted out of the federal West Vancouver - Sunshine Coast - Sea to Sky riding and into one that ran over the Duffey, down the Fraser Canyon and linked us unnaturally with Abbotsford, I thought it was some kind of sick joke.

But after having read John Weston's response to what was something he either (a) proposed, (b) opposed, or (c) would simply go along with because, hey, tough decisions have to be made, I thought it was some kind of sick joke and became even more convinced Whistler should simply secede from B.C. and Canada and become its own principality.

Let us recap. The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for British Columbia — hereinafter called the commission because if I called it in print the kinds of names I've been hearing it called in conversations this wouldn't be considered a family newsmagazine — was tasked with gerrymandering federal riding boundaries because population growth in B.C. has resulted in the province gaining six new MPs.

Right away you can see the problem. Six new MPs? Who in the world, or at least the Canadian world, believes we need more members of parliament? That's a rhetorical question. Were it not for the constitutional anomaly that Quebec has a fixed percentage of parliamentarians and therefore swings above its weight in every single political decision made in this country, there would be widespread support for reducing the number of MPs by, say, 10 per cent every election until sometime in the 24th century someone somewhere from sea to sea to sea would cry out, "Hey, we don't have enough MPs."

But we're stuck with six new MPs, meaning six new ridings, and the commission has to figure out where to draw the line.

The first time they tried that, they kicked Powell River out of the WV-SC-StS riding and lumped them into one on Vancouver Island. Powell River was not amused. They pleaded to be kept in the riding they'd been in notwithstanding they are not West Vancouver, not in the Sea to Sky corridor and, surprisingly, not on the Sunshine Coast which, consensus has it, ends at Earl's Cove.

On the other hand, any place that can appropriate the name Sunshine Coast and have as little sunshine as the Sunshine Coast enjoys has what we might generously call a tenuous grip on reality anyway so dream on.

I can understand Powell River's dismay. Even though Powell Riverians really do have more in common with Vancouver Island — I mean, who in Powell River goes to Gibsons to do their big shopping instead of Campbell River, Courtney or, be still my heart, Nanaimo — I wouldn't want to be considered part of it. After all, you have to take a ferry to get there. Oh, wait a minute, you have to take two ferries to get to Powell River from anywhere. Never mind.

Anyway, Powell River made representations to the three commissioners — who probably needed a map to find Powell River — to be kept in the riding to which they'd become accustomed. Actually they begged. They pleaded. They promised tribute and first-born male children, comely wenches and magic beans. No one, and certainly not Vancouver Island, objected. Whistler didn't object. Why would we? We didn't realize Powell River was the domino that was going to get us eventually married to, ugh, Abbotsford.

So the commission decided to let Powell River stay where they were and continue to imagine they were part of the Sunshine Coast. Instead, they decided to kick Whistler out, which was bad enough, lump us in with Pemberton — who we always thought of as a kid brother — Lillooet, who we always thought of as, well, nothing, and Abbotsford, who we always thought of as the place where the thugs who came up here and caused trouble came from if they didn't come from Surrey, which was worse. And, continue to call the riding West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky.

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