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Why aren’t candidates required to live in ridings they want to represent?

As I ponder my choices (yes, I’m still one of those undecideds, even the day before the election) from among candidates who don’t live in my riding, I wonder why someone who wants to represent me doesn’t have to live here.

There’s no rule that says a candidate must live in the riding in which he or she runs. In fact, the rules expressly state that as long as you’ve been a resident anywhere in the province for long enough, you can run anywhere you want.

That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. In municipal elections, it’s the same thing, but there’s a good reason for it. In small municipalities or regional districts, there often isn’t a big enough population to guarantee good representation. In some regional rural areas, a few dozen votes can get you elected, so the chances of there not being any candidates who actually live in the area are pretty good.

Even in bigger municipalities, there sometimes are just not enough people to make for a good roster. An added factor is that communities like Kamloops often have outlying bedroom communities outside city boundaries, the residents of which commute into town every day and who have a direct stake in civic decisions.

But the boundaries of provincial ridings are drawn, in part, based on population, so every riding surely could generate a candidate for most of the major parties. If no one from within the riding filed nomination papers by deadline, a secondary nomination process could kick into place that allows external candidates to run.

People who don’t live in a riding get on the ballot either because their party doesn’t do a rigorous enough job of recruiting, or because they’re able to defeat resident-candidates in the membership-signup progress.

So, once again in this election, my choices are dominated by candidates who don’t live within the same electoral-district boundaries that I do. It shouldn’t be that way.

About Mel Rothenburger (8573 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on Why aren’t candidates required to live in ridings they want to represent?

  1. John O'Fee // May 21, 2013 at 11:04 AM // Reply

    While MLA’s typically live in the ridings they represent once you include “very close by” it is virtually the case in every instance. Kevin Krueger lived in Kamloops North Thompson then he lived in Kamloops South Thompson…..Kevin didn’t move but the riding boundaries did.

    At one point we had a “super riding” that elected two MLAs. (Bud Smith and Claude Richmond). Todd Stone lives in Kamloops South Thompson, but if he were running a couple of elections ago, living in the same spot he would have been in Kamloops North Thompson.

    Overall, if a candidate lives within a fifteen minute walk of a riding boundary I don’t see it as that big a deal. The riding boundaries may end up moving in any event.

  2. That’s really strange, and too bad that I can’t vote for someone outside of my riding instead. There’s one candidate who I’d vote for in a heartbeat, but they are representing a different riding.

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