Martin C. Barry
Several members of the Quebec National Assembly from western Laval have started a petition supporting the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal’s bid to persuade the Quebec Electoral Commission to abandon a plan to restructure the ridings of Fabre and Chomedey which would split the Greek vote and render it less powerful electorally.
Greek natural community
“Since the beginning of work in Quebec on the reform of the electoral map, we have been very busy defending the Greek natural community,” said Fabre Liberal MNA Monique Sauvé who took part with Chomedey Liberal MNA Guy Ouellette in a press conference on the issue at HCGM headquarters in Montreal on April 19.
“In as much as we respect institutions, it’s very clear that our position is that the division of the Hellenic community in virtue of Article 15 of Chapter 1 of the Elections Act for us is a priority,” she continued. “Well above the mathematical equations, and above the calculations which might be made, the essence of this community which we all value must be respected.”
Ouellette said that he, Sauvé and Sainte-Rose MNA Jean Habel made representations on the issue to the electoral commission last September. “As Monique said earlier, the Greek community in Chomedey is the largest in the province of Quebec,” he said.
Against electoral law
“The simple way that the Commission électorale split the Greek community was denounced by Monique, by Jean Habel from Sainte-Rose and by myself. It goes against our own electoral law and it goes against Article 15 that we pleaded in September 2016.
“That is the reason why there will be a petition on the National Assembly network which will be grandfathered by Monique,” Ouellette continued. “There will also be a petition in churches in Laval and in Montreal just to make sure that the voice of the Greek community will be heard at the electoral commission.”
Text of the petition
The text of the petition reads:
In consideration of the Quebec Electoral Commission’s (QEC) March 2nd 2017 decision to modify the electoral boundaries in the Laval-area ridings of Chomedey and Fabre respectively;
In consideration of the definition of a ‘natural community’ as defined in Article 15 of the Quebec Elections Act, being “an electoral division, which represents a natural community established on the basis of demographical, geographical and sociological considerations, such as the population density, the relative growth rate of the population, the accessibility, area and shape of the region, the natural local boundaries and the territories of local municipalities…”
In consideration of the QEC’s disregard of the above-noted Article 15 in the electoral boundaries redistribution process, We the undersigned, residents of the Chomedey and Fabre ridings in Laval, are opposed to the Quebec Electoral Commission’s March 2nd 2017 decision and request a reversal of said decision.
HCGM letter to QEC
In a letter to the QEC from the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal signed by HCGM president Nicholas Pagonis, he says boundary reform alternatives proposed by the HCGM ought to have been considered by the commission. He also noted that Ouellette, Sauvé and Habel supported the alternatives and remain dissatisfied with the new map being proposed by the commission.
“This is something that is going to diminish our political clout,” Pagonis said during the press conference, “something which should not be allowed to happen because it is our natural right to maintain that ability that we had up to now.” Pagonis also pointed out an irony in the redrawn riding map: two Greek Orthodox churches located in the same riding until now would henceforth be split between Chomedey and Fabre.
‘Easy way out,’ says Ouellette
While Ouellette acknowledged that an important reason the map of Chomedey is being redrawn is that the riding is growing fast and the size of its population is no longer within electoral norms, he said the QEC took the easy way to making its reform: they based it largely on an arbitrary line drawn at 100th Ave. in Chomedey, which is the virtual heart of the Laval Greek community.
“They have to work a little bit harder in dividing the six ridings in Laval in some other way, because I’m way above average, Fabre is under average, Laval-des-Rapides and Mille-Îles are under average, so we need to divide Laval in some other way,” Ouellette said. “But it takes time and a lot more work to do.”
‘Short term solution,’ says Sauvé
Sauvé added that the solution the QEC is proposing “is only a short-term solution. Because of the growth of the population in Chomedey they will have to do their homework again after the next election. The scenario that Guy proposed was on a long-term basis reality rather than just doing their homework again, doing it not the right way, and splitting again the community.” She said that what the three MNAs and the HCGM are proposing “is harder work, but also a long-term solution.”