Editorial: New riding but same issues in SDG

If everything goes according to plan, the local federal riding of Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry will drop the “South” to its name and add North Glengarry to its territory, possibly before the next federal election. A series of reports tabled in the House of Commons, one for each province, will redraw the electoral map of Canada on April 1, 2024 if the recommendations are approved. This redistricting will add five seats to the House of Commons nationally, one of those in Ontario. Locally, municipal governments and politicians at all levels lobbied for SDG to be made whole by moving North Glengarry into the riding.

The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry, along with Cornwall, and parts of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne lands that overlap with Ontario’s boundaries will make up this new riding. It is the first time all will be in one riding, and it makes sense. North Glengarry has been in a different riding from the rest of SDG, which has made it the odd-township out in a way.

Ontario mirrors its provincial riding boundaries with the federal government, so North Glengarry will eventually join SDSG at that level too. Once passed, the riding will mirror the geographic boundaries of the Counties and place all six lower-tier municipalities within SDG on an equal footing. It also means all six, plus Cornwall and Akwesasne can work together as a team to advance common issues to its residents – ones that have not disappeared in recent years.

Many of those issues, from health care to jobs, affordable housing to the environment, often operated with a split focus. Cornwall, Akwesasne, and five-sixths of SDG Counties had one politician in their corner. North Glengarry (with its Prescott and Russell riding mates) had another. While two MPs and two MPPs may sound like a benefit, often each were with different parties so no advantage was seen. In fact, often there was ambiguity as to who does what, based on invisible lines on a map. Redistribution in this case has a clear advantage for all SDG.

Ideally having the City of Cornwall rejoin SDG Counties as a formal member of the upper tier municipality rather than as a service provider would take this change and much needed cooperation to the next level.

Shifting the political boundaries and redistricting gives this riding and region one clear voice to advocate for local issues at the national level and when changed, at the provincial level. The next step is for all parts of the riding to agree to what priorities its residents, not the politicians, want to see addressed.

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