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The new name for Emerson constituency isn't sitting well with the area's MLA.

As part of its final report on boundary re-alignment, the Manitoba Electoral Divisions Boundaries Commission has also decided to rename the electoral district as Borderland effective 2020.

Cliff Graydon feels this new name has no connection to his constituency.

"It has the shortest piece of the forty-ninth parallel of any of the three ridings that borders the United States, but we do have a history from 1879 with the Emerson name. Many people are trying to preserve our history, so yes there is a lot of pushback," he said.

Graydon also claims that the commission neglected to run this name change by constituents during its public consultation period as part of the boundary re-alignment process.

"At the interim report there was no discussion whatsoever about a name change for Emerson," he said. "(The commission) had an interim meeting in Winkler, I was at it, and there was no mention of changing the name."

The MLA says he's had several phone calls from constituents wondering when this name change came about and why.

"What was the point of doing it?" he asked. "There was no point in doing it. Going forward from 2020 for the next eight years, (the riding) will represent the same people basically that it's been representing till now so it's not like there was any reason to change (the name)."

The re-aligned boundaries take effect for the next provincial election and will see the revised electoral district absorb more of the rural area surrounding Morden and Winkler, and eliminate a portion in the northeast part of the riding that includes communities like St. Pierre and Otterburne.

Graydon said he will try to do something about the name change, however, he isn't sure of what the options are.

Alison Mitchell, Manager of Communications and Public Information with Elections Manitoba, admits the proposed boundary changes didn't include a new name for Emerson at the time of public consultations, however, she says that process did yield some feedback.

"Something that we did hear frequently from the public is that having a single community be used as the name of the electoral division wasn't necessarily the preference, and it would better to use a name that refers to the whole electoral division," she explained.

It was these comments, along with the ripple effect of shifting the electoral boundaries in the region, that Mitchell says contributed to the name change for Emerson.

She noted the commission is aware of the historical nature of the name Emerson but said Borderland is one that is known throughout the area.

Overall, Mitchell said the commission conducted as much, if not more, public consultation than legislated for the re-alignment process and used this feedback, among many other factors, to make its final decision.

"So in terms of public consultation, it was certainly a very fulsome process," she noted.

Mitchell added the commission also carried out its responsibilities according to legislation while being respectful of recognized naming conventions in Manitoba.

"All of the name changes took into account regional and geographical factors, they followed the principles and procedures for geographical naming, and also consultation was done with the provincial toponymist on all names."

As of interview time, Mitchell said the commission hadn't registered any complaints of the change other than from Graydon.

She noted now that the commission's final report has been published there is neither requirement or possibility for further consultation.


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