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Redistribution may reduce Conservative advantage

More ridings will be added to urban centres

Other aspects of the federal riding redistribution may weaken what some have called a Conservative advantage in several ridings.

While previous commissions have tried to reduce the geographical size of some ridings by combining large rural areas with small slices of urban centres to create so-called rurban ridings, commissions in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario have abandoned that approach.

Where Saskatoon was previously divided in four rurban ridings, the current proposal calls for three ridings that are exclusively urban. Regina is also proposed to be divided into two exclusively urban ridings. Both cities tend to vote NDP, while the surrounding areas tend to vote Conservative.

Ridings in eastern Ontario may also abandon the rurban model that formerly attached towns along the St Lawrence River to large stretches of farming communities to the north. Instead, the towns are proposed to be joined to each other in ridings along an east-west axis.

These proposals, as well as the addition of five seats to Greater Vancouver, three seats to Greater Montreal, two seats each to Calgary and Edmonton, and 12 seats to Greater Toronto, will increase the voting power of Canada’s largely left-leaning urban centres in Parliament.

While the Conservatives have deep roots in Calgary and Edmonton and have made inroads into Toronto and Vancouver, the growing political importance of cities may even force the Conservatives to moderate their social positions further.