Constituency Naming in the East: A Question of Identity and Representation

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Constituency Naming in the East: A Question of Identity and Representation

The MRC de La Mitis tried several times to have its name added to the provincial electoral district of Matane-Matapédia (archives).

The MRC de La Mitis and the City of Trois-Pistoles, together with the MRC des Basques, are requesting that the Commission de la representation electoral (CRE) change the name of their respective provincial electoral district.

The provincial electoral district of Matane-Matapédia includes the RCMs of La Matanie, La Matapédia and La Mitis. However, the latter does not appear in the official name of the constituency.

During a regular meeting of the council of the MRC de La Mitis last June, the council proposed, by resolution, to send a request to the Commission to change the name of the county to Matane-Matapédia-La Mitis. .

The prefect of the MRC de La Mitis, Bruno Paradis (archives)

The prefect of the MRC, Bruno Paradis, is of the opinion that including the name of the MRC would allow a better representation of the territorial reality of the district. We are a third of the population of the current constituency and for the moment we are non-existent. For someone who only knows the names of constituencies, the MRC de La Mitis simply does not exist, explains the prefect.

“For us, it's a matter of principle. It is a question of recognition and it is also a way of demonstrating that we exist. »

— Bruno Paradis, Warden of the MRC de La Mitis

The MP for the riding, Pascal Bérubé, says he has been fighting this battle for almost ten years.

Pascal Bérubé is the Parti Québécois MP for Matane-Matapédia (archives).

In 2012 and 2017, the Chief Electoral Officer and the Electoral Board of Elections refused because they don't want three names to appear. The prejudice, I don't know where it is, but there is clearly one for the citizens of La Mitis who are not named, believes the PQ MP.

“If I am re-elected in the fall, this will be one of my campaign commitments. »

— Pascal Bérubé, MNA for Matane-Matapédia

However, this is the first time that this request to the CRE has gone through a resolution to the council of the MRC.

On the side of the provincial electoral district of Rivière-du-Loup –Témiscouata, it is the municipal council of Trois-Pistoles which requires the government of Quebec, the CRE and Elections Quebec to change the name to Rivière-du-Loup-Témiscouata-Les Basques.

Since the MRC of Témiscouata became part of the county and its name was added to the riding, the MRC of the Basques fell into oblivion, underlines the prefect Bertin Denis.

The prefect of the MRC des Basques, Bertin Denis (archives)

It's as if all of a sudden we had fallen into the virtual or disappeared from the map, explains Mr. Denis. It's a shame because in the end we are still part of the constituency.

According to the stakeholders consulted, the Electoral Representation Commission refuses to change the names of these counties because that it would become too long if a third toponym were added to it.

CRE indicates on its website the various rules and guidelines it gives itself regarding the naming of constituencies.

“The Commission does not favor the juxtaposition of toponyms since this can lead to the creation of lists of territories of belonging. Since these lists of home territories may not always include all of them, the Commission considers that it is best to avoid using them as names.

— Excerpt from Electoral Representation Commission Naming Rules and Tags

Still according to the CRE, if the juxtaposition is deemed inevitable, the Commission wishes to limit itself to two elements and it will favor names that have a historical or heritage tradition.

For Bertin Denis, the explanations of the CRE are based on extremely futile principles that have no serious foundations.

If you take the federal riding, it's Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, they have no problem including the names of the territories of the county, recalls Mr. Denis.

Pascal Bérubé also points out that the riding equivalent to the federal one is called Avignon —La Mitis —Matane —Matapédia.

Redesigns and redrawings of the electoral map could partly explain the name of the different ridings in Quebec.

According to historian Jean-Marie Fallu, the geographical reorganizations of the various constituencies have had an impact on the name, particularly in regions where the electoral counties encompass larger areas of territory.

Si we take the example of the county of Gaspé, we are not talking only of the City of Gaspé, but of the entire county which extends from Cap-Chat to Grande-Rivière, and that can be confusing for some , explains Jean-Marie Fallu.

It is of the opinion that the territorial entities and the communities that inhabited the territory were more respected at the time unlike today. hui.

Today, it seems that these are mathematical calculations that have no meaning in connection with the territory. The size of the territories is not taken into account in the division of these counties into regions, and this, to the detriment of the belonging of the cultural communities of these territories, summarizes the historian.

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