BLAKE WOLFE The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: In the wake of the latest redrawing of Ontario's federal election ridings, Durham's newest MP is seeking feedback from his constituents on the proposed changes and what they could mean for residents.
Durham riding MP Erin O'Toole recently launched a constituency survey regarding the proposed changes to the riding, which currently encompasses the municipalities of Scugog, Uxbridge and Clarington. The proposed changes, which would be in effect for the 2015 federal vote, would see Uxbridge paired with the City of Pickering in Pickering-Uxbridge, while Scugog, along with a sliver of Clarington, would be grouped with the northern reaches of the City of Oshawa into the Oshawa-Durham riding.
These latest changes were announced in late February, months after Durham politicians lobbied the riding redistribution commission in November to reconsider its original proposal for the Region, which would have seen half of Uxbridge, along with Scugog and Brock, lumped into a monster 'Haliburton-Uxbridge' riding that would have stretched to the southern limits of Algonquin Park.
The survey, which is open until March 22, can be found at www.erinotoolemp.ca/ridingsurvey. In addition to the web site, residents can also call the local constituency office at 905-697-1699 or drop by at 54 King St. E. in Bowmanville.
According to Mr. O'Toole, the majority of concern so far has come from residents of Uxbridge and Clarington, the latter of which will be subdivided even further, with the remainder of that municipality to be linked with Northumberland. Although he anticipates few, if any, changes to the new ridings as they are currently proposed, Mr. O'Toole said that through the survey, he hopes to gain a better opinion of the riding's residents prior to the commission's report going before Parliament this spring.
Mr. O'Toole added that come election time in 2015, he would run in the proposed Oshawa-Durham riding.
"It's clear that the commission did learn from the appeals (by Durham politicians and residents) in November, but there are still questions about the changes," said Mr. O'Toole, adding that concerns have ranged from the urban-rural divide posed by the Pickering-Uxbridge riding, to the absence of Scugog's name in the title of Oshawa-Durham.
"I think the commission tried to address all the concerns received and overall, they listened to what Durham had to say. They've done a decent job, however, it would have been nice to see Clarington remain whole."
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