Gerrymandering used to be prominent in Canadian politics
, but is no longer prominent, after independent electoral boundary redistribution commissions
were established in all provinces.
Early in Canadian
history, both the federal and provincial levels used gerrymandering to try to maximize partisan power. When Alberta
were admitted to Confederation
in 1905, their original district boundaries were set forth in the respective Alberta
and Saskatchewan Acts
. Federal Liberal cabinet
members devised the boundaries to ensure the election of provincial Liberal governments. British Columbia
used a combination of single-member
and dual-member constituencies
to solidify the power of the centre-right British Columbia Social Credit Party
Since responsibility for drawing federal and provincial electoral boundaries was handed over to independent agencies, the problem has largely been eliminated at those levels of government. Manitoba
was the first province to authorize a non-partisan group to define constituency boundaries in the 1950s.
In 1964, the federal government
delegated the drawing of boundaries for federal electoral districts
to the non-partisan agency Elections Canada
which answers to Parliament
rather than the government of the day.
As a result, gerrymandering is not generally a major issue in Canada except at the civic level.
Although city wards are recommended by independent agencies, city councils
occasionally overrule them. That is much more likely if the city is not homogenous and different neighborhoods have sharply different opinions about city policy direction.
In 2006, a controversy arose in Prince Edward Island
over the provincial government
's decision to throw out an electoral map drawn by an independent commission. Instead, they created two new maps. The government adopted the second of them, which was designed by the caucus
of the governing Progressive Conservative Party of Prince Edward Island
. Opposition parties and the media attacked Premier Pat Binns
for what they saw as gerrymandering of districts. Among other things, the government adopted a map that ensured that every current Member of the Legislative Assembly
from the premier's party had a district to run in for re-election, but in the original map, several had been redistricted.
However, in the 2007 provincial election
only seven of 20 incumbent Members of the Legislative Assembly were re-elected (seven did not run for re-election), and the government was defeated.