MP Michael Coteau joins other politicians opposing riding redistribution


By Lincoln DePradine

Michael Coteau

Another politician, from the Black and Caribbean community, has expressed opposition to a recommendation under which Toronto will lose one of its federal ridings, going down to 24 seats from 25.

The recommendation, from the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Ontario, would eliminate the federal riding of Don Valley East (DVE).

Liberal MP Michael Coteau, co-chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus, currently represents Don Valley East in the House of Commons in Ottawa.

“It is unacceptable that Toronto loses one seat through redistribution,’’ said Coteau, a former Ontario government cabinet minister. “Given the growth of Toronto, the complexity and needs of its distinctive 130 communities, the ethno-cultural diversity and the particular social and economic considerations and the interplay between Toronto and surrounding communities, we do not accept that Toronto should lose a federal seat.’’

Every 10 years, Elections Canada conducts a population review that impacts riding representation based on population shifts.

Jamaal Myers

The latest proposal, coming out of the 2021 census, could go into effect as early as next year. If the redrawing of the electoral map is adopted, parts of DVE – east of the Don River – would be attached to Scarborough Centre. But, the areas west of the Don River would be added to a new riding called Don Valley South. A small portion of DVE would be added to Don Valley North.

Like Coteau, City of Toronto Councillor Jamaal Myers is against the recommendation, saying the changes would not serve the best “needs and wants’’ of Scarborough residents.

Myers, councillor for Ward 23 in Scarborough, said implementing the recommendation would “disenfranchise a lot of people’’ in the Scarborough community.

“The needs in Scarborough are just very unique because of the high level of diversity; because of a higher than average rates of poverty; because of higher on average rates of immigration,’’ Myers said in a recent Caribbean Camera interview. “So, we really need someone who can speak to the specific needs of this community; and that is why I have been against the electoral redistribution proposal.’’

A “flawed’’ process was used by the members of the Electoral Boundaries Commission during consultations that led to the recommendation on reducing Toronto’s ridings, Coteau said.

“Last year when they consulted with the public, the elimination of DVE was never on the table. It was never proposed and the public never had the opportunity to comment on the impact,’’ he said. 

“We need the commission to hold further public meetings on their latest proposal, so that the public can comment on the proposed boundaries and the proposed elimination of DVE.’’

Eliminating DVE, which comprises “distinctive communities’’, will have “unintended consequences’’, including losing not only an MPP, but also a city councillor and school board trustee, said Coteau, who serves on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills & Social Development; and also the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

“DVE was cut in half in 2012 and now it is being cut again,’’ he said. “Through redistribution, Flemingdon Park has been tossed between three ridings in the past decade, adding instability to an already vulnerable community.’’