Kenora MP Eric Melillo is hoping to see northwestern Ontario residents come out to fight back against proposed changes to the federal Kenora riding – which if passed, would eliminate some of the region’s representation in the House of Commons.

The federal government has been looking at the possibility of eliminating certain electoral districts in northwestern Ontario and combining them, including the Kenora district becoming the Kenora – Thunder Bay – Rainy River district.

“I don’t believe that these proposed boundaries are good for us in the north,” explained Melillo, in an interview with the Q Morning Show.

“That is the messaging I’ve been hearing loud and clear from constituents in the riding. I don’t believe northern Ontario should be losing a seat. I think we’re already under-represented in the House. And it’s important that we keep communities with shared interests together, like those in the Kenora district,” he adds.

''Proposed electoral riding. Photo credit: Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission of Ontario

Melillo notes he’ll be attending the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission of Ontario’s in-person hearings to offer his comments and feedback on the proposed changes, with hearings taking place tonight in Sioux Lookout and tomorrow in Kenora.

Sioux Lookout’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Forest Inn. Kenora’s meeting is set for tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. at the Douglas Family Arts Centre – The Muse. Residents must have signed up for one of the hearings prior to September 25 to attend.

The City of Kenora and the City of Dryden have both officially passed resolutions fighting against any changes to the riding, saying the new landmass would become ‘ungovernable’ due to its sheer size – infringing on the rights of constituents across the area.

Dryden Councillor Norm Bush called the proposal ‘insane’, noting it could also lead to a lessened funding formula from the federal government as many projects are based on population sizes. The Kenora District Municipal Association has also passed a resolution against the proposal. 

The Constitution of Canada requires that federal ridings be reviewed every ten years. But in 2012, the Kenora District was deemed an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ and was left alone, because any changes would lead to the area losing a seat in the House of Commons.

The current federal Kenora riding was created in 2004 from parts of the former Kenora – Rainy River riding and is the largest federal riding by land mass, but the smallest by population size.

''Current electoral riding. Photo credit: Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission of Ontario