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Electoral Boundaries Commission Act

[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 107

Contents
1Definition
2Electoral Boundaries Commission
3Function of commission
4Remuneration
5Time of appointment of commission
6Power to compel persons to give evidence and order disclosure
6.1Maintenance of order at hearings
6.2Contempt proceeding for uncooperative person
6.3Immunity protection
7Employees
8Appropriation
9Determining boundaries
10Report to Speaker
11Hearings
12Amendment of report
13Report to Legislative Assembly
14New electoral districts to be introduced by Bill
15Power to establish electoral districts by regulation

Definition

1  In this Act, "commission" means the Electoral Boundaries Commission appointed under section 2.

Electoral Boundaries Commission

2  (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council must, as required by this Act, appoint an Electoral Boundaries Commission consisting of

(a) a judge or a retired judge of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal who is nominated by the Lieutenant Governor in Council,

(b) a person who is not a member of the Legislative Assembly or an employee of the government and who is nominated by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, after consultation with the Premier and the Leader of the Official Opposition, and

(c) the chief electoral officer appointed under the Election Act.

(2) The Lieutenant Governor in Council must appoint one member of the commission as chair.

(3) If one member of the commission is unable for any reason to complete the member's duties, 2 members of the commission may continue to exercise powers and perform duties as the commission under this Act, and

(a) the vacancy does not invalidate any action taken, and

(b) the provisions of this Act concerning the commission continue to apply.

(4) If a member of the commission is unable for any reason to complete the member's duties, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may, subject to the limitations and conditions set out in subsection (1), appoint a person to complete the member's duties, and that person may rely on all decisions made and information received by any member of the commission.

Function of commission

3  (1) The function of the commission is to make proposals to the Legislative Assembly as to the area, boundaries and names of the electoral districts of British Columbia.

(2) If, in carrying out its functions under subsection (1), the commission considers that the number of electoral districts in British Columbia should be increased, the commission may make proposals to the Legislative Assembly to increase the number of electoral districts up to a maximum of 87.

Remuneration

4  (1) The commission member who is a retired judge appointed under section 2 (1) (a) and the commission member who is appointed under section 2 (1) (b) may be paid remuneration for his or her services on the commission in an amount prescribed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

(2) The commission members, while absent from their ordinary place of residence and in the course of their duties as commission members, must be paid their reasonable travelling and living expenses at the rates the Lieutenant Governor in Council may prescribe.

Time of appointment of commission

5  (1) The next commission must be appointed no later than November 30, 2005.

(2) A new commission must be appointed no later than one year after the general voting day for every second general election following the appointment under subsection (1).

Power to compel persons to give evidence and order disclosure

6  (1) For the purposes of this Act, the commission may make an order requiring a person to do either or both of the following:

(a) attend, in person or by electronic means, before the commission to answer questions on oath or affirmation, or in any other manner;

(b) produce for the commission a record or thing in the person's possession or control.

(2) The commission may apply to the Supreme Court for an order

(a) directing a person to comply with an order made under subsection (1), or

(b) directing any directors and officers of a person to cause the person to comply with an order made under subsection (1).

Maintenance of order at hearings

6.1  (1) At an oral hearing, the commission may make orders or give directions that it considers necessary for the maintenance of order at the hearing, and, if any person disobeys or fails to comply with any order or direction, the commission may call on the assistance of any peace officer to enforce the order or direction.

(2) A peace officer called on under subsection (1) may take any action that is necessary to enforce the order or direction and may use such force as is reasonably required for that purpose.

(3) Without limiting subsection (1), the commission, by order, may

(a) impose restrictions on a person's continued participation in or attendance at a hearing, and

(b) exclude a person from further participation in or attendance at a hearing until the commission orders otherwise.

Contempt proceeding for uncooperative person

6.2  (1) The failure or refusal of a person subject to an order under section 6 to do any of the following makes the person, on application to the Supreme Court by the commission, liable to be committed for contempt as if in breach of an order or judgment of the Supreme Court:

(a) attend before the commission;

(b) take an oath or make an affirmation;

(c) answer questions;

(d) produce records or things in the person's possession or control.

(2) The failure or refusal of a person subject to an order or direction under section 6.1 to comply with the order or direction makes the person, on application to the Supreme Court by the commission, liable to be committed for contempt as if in breach of an order or judgment of the Supreme Court.

(3) Subsections (1) and (2) do not limit the conduct for which a finding of contempt may be made by the Supreme Court.

Immunity protection

6.3  (1) Subject to subsection (2), no legal proceeding for damages lies or may be commenced or maintained against the commission, a member of the commission or a person acting on behalf of or under the direction of the commission or a member of the commission, because of anything done or omitted

(a) in the performance or intended performance of any duty under this Act, or

(b) in the exercise or intended exercise of any power under this Act.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a person referred to in that subsection in relation to anything done or omitted by that person in bad faith.

Employees

7  The commission may

(a) employ or retain technical and other advisors and employees that it considers necessary, including a person to act as secretary to the commission, and

(b) subject to the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, determine

(i) their conditions of employment, and

(ii) the remuneration and reimbursement for expenses to which they are entitled.

Appropriation

8  Money required to meet the remuneration and expenses of commission members and of the persons referred to in section 7 may be paid out of the consolidated revenue fund.

Determining boundaries

9  (0.1) In this section:

"Cariboo-Thompson Region" means a region consisting of the following electoral districts specified in the Electoral Districts Act:

(a) Cariboo North;

(b) Cariboo-Chilcotin;

(c) Fraser-Nicola;

(d) Kamloops-North Thompson;

(e) Kamloops-South Thompson;

"Columbia-Kootenay Region" means a region consisting of the following electoral districts specified in the Electoral Districts Act:

(a) Columbia River-Revelstoke;

(b) Kootenay East;

(c) Kootenay West;

(d) Nelson-Creston;

"North Region" means a region consisting of the following electoral districts specified in the Electoral Districts Act:

(a) Nechako Lakes;

(b) North Coast;

(c) Peace River North;

(d) Peace River South;

(e) Prince George-Mackenzie;

(f) Prince George-Valemount;

(g) Skeena;

(h) Stikine.

(1) Subject to subsection (1.1), in determining the area to be included in and in fixing the boundaries of proposed electoral districts, the commission must be governed by the following principles:

(a) that the principle of representation by population be achieved, recognizing the imperatives imposed by geographical and demographic realities, the legacy of our history and the need to balance the community interests of the people of British Columbia;

(b) to achieve that principle, the commission be permitted to deviate from a common statistical Provincial electoral quota by no more than 25%, plus or minus;

(c) the commission be permitted to exceed the 25% deviation principle where it considers that very special circumstances exist.

(1.1) With respect to the Cariboo-Thompson Region, the Columbia-Kootenay Region and the North Region, the commission must be governed by the following additional principles:

(a) for the purpose of effective representation in the Legislative Assembly, each of these regions must not have the number of their electoral districts reduced from the number of electoral districts that currently exist for the region;

(b) for the purposes of complying with paragraph (a) of this subsection, the commission may exceed the 25% deviation principle established by subsection (1) (b).

(2) For the purpose of making proposals under section 3 (2), the commission must take into account the following:

(a) geographic and demographic considerations, including the sparsity, density or rate of growth of the population of any part of British Columbia and the accessibility, size or physical configuration of any part of British Columbia;

(b) the availability of means of communication and transportation between various parts of British Columbia.

(3) For certainty, for the purpose of making proposals under section 3 (2), the commission may propose

(a) changing the names of electoral districts in the Cariboo-Thompson Region, the Columbia-Kootenay Region and the North Region, and

(b) adjusting or changing boundaries of electoral districts in the Cariboo-Thompson Region, the Columbia-Kootenay Region and the North Region, including, subject to the purpose set out in subsection (1.1) (a), boundaries of electoral districts that are regional boundaries.

Report to Speaker

10  (1) The commission, after considering any representations made to it, and within 12 months of the date on which the commission is appointed, must submit to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly a report, which must delineate the number, which must not be less than 79 nor more than 85, and the names, areas and boundaries of the proposed electoral districts.

(2) On receipt of the report under subsection (1), the Speaker must promptly cause it to be made public and to be published in the Gazette.

(3) If the office of Speaker is vacant, the report must be submitted to the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly who must comply with subsection (2).

Hearings

11  (1) The commission

(a) may before its report is submitted to the Speaker or to the Clerk under section 10, and

(b) must after its report has been made public

hold hearings at the places and times it considers appropriate to enable representations to be made by any person as to the area and boundaries of any proposed electoral district.

(2) The commission must give reasonable public notice of the time and place and purpose of any public hearings to be held by it.

Amendment of report

12  (1) The commission may, after considering any further representations made to it, and within 6 months of the date it submits a report under section 10, submit to the Speaker any amendments to the report it considers advisable.

(2) The commission must give reasonable public notice of the time and place of any public hearings to be held by it.

(3) After the commission has heard from all other persons, it must give all current members of the Legislative Assembly an opportunity to make submissions to it.

(4) The amendments must be made public and published in the same manner as the report under section 10.

(5) If the office of Speaker is vacant, the amended report must be submitted to the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, who must comply with subsection (4).

Report to Legislative Assembly

13  (1) The report of the commission, together with any amendments to it, must,

(a) if the Legislative Assembly is in session when the report is submitted, be promptly laid before the Assembly, or

(b) if the Legislative Assembly is not then in session, be laid before the Assembly within 7 days after the commencement of the next ensuing session.

(2) If the report and amendments are completed when the Legislative Assembly is not in session, they must be delivered to the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.

New electoral districts to be introduced by Bill

14  If the Legislative Assembly, by resolution, approves or approves with alterations the proposals of the commission, the government must, at the same session, introduce a Bill to establish new electoral districts in accordance with the resolution.

Power to establish electoral districts by regulation

15  (1) If the Legislative Assembly is not in session, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may, by regulation, establish the names and the areas and boundaries of the electoral districts from which the members of the Legislative Assembly are elected.

(2) The Lieutenant Governor in Council must not enact a regulation under subsection (1) unless the Select Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly on Parliamentary Reform, Ethical Conduct, Standing Orders and Private Bills has made a unanimous report to the Legislative Assembly recommending the names and specifying the areas and boundaries of the electoral districts.

(3) A report under subsection (2) must set out, with precision and clarity, the recommended names, areas and boundaries of the proposed electoral districts and the regulation under subsection (1) must be prepared and enacted accordingly.

(4) A regulation under subsection (1) that does not comply with subsection (2) has no effect.

(5) To assist the committee in preparing its report, the chief electoral officer and any public officers required by the chief electoral officer must, on the request of the chair of the committee, assist the committee in the manner requested by the chair.

(6) A report under subsection (2) is deemed to be made to the Legislative Assembly if it is submitted to the Clerk of the Assembly.

(7) The government must, at the next ensuing session of the Legislative Assembly after the enactment of a regulation under subsection (1), introduce a Bill to establish the boundaries of the electoral districts, but only in accordance with the regulation under subsection (1).

(8) The Lieutenant Governor in Council must not, before the Bill referred to in subsection (7) is enacted, amend or repeal a regulation under subsection (1), and any regulation that purports to do so has no effect.

(9) The electoral boundaries established under or in accordance with this section remain in effect until they are adjusted or changed under the other provisions of this Act.