History of the electoral map

The Election Act outlines specific criteria in order to divide Québec into electoral divisions and thus ensure the equality of each elector’s vote. The application of this part of the Election Act is currently ensured by a permanent, neutral and independent organization: the Commission de la représentation électorale (CRE). To better understand the main elements of the evolution of the electoral map of Québec, the CRE presents a timeline of events below.


1792

Pursuant to section XIV of the Constitution Act, 1791, Lieutenant Governor Alured Clarke established, without any standard as a basis, a first electoral map, including 27 electoral divisions that would elect 50 representatives. This map was used for the general elections of 1792, 1796, 1800, 1804, 1808, 1809, 1810, 1814, 1816, 1820 (two elections), 1824 and 1827.


1829

The delimitation of electoral divisions was carried out by the legislative branch and not by the executive branch. As a result of the representation standards introduced into the delimitation, each electoral division was required to be represented in the provincial parliament by one member if it had a population of “one thousand souls” and by two members if it had a population of “four thousand souls.” A population of less than “one thousand souls” was required to form part of the neighbouring division with “the smallest number of souls.” This map includes 46 electoral divisions and was used for the general elections of 1830 and 1834.


1840

The Act of Union established important changes in the electoral representation of Lower Canada. Upper Canada and Lower Canada were each entitled to elect 42 representatives under the same legislature. Each electoral division was represented by one member, except for the cities of Montreal and Quebec City, which retained two representatives each. This delimitation was hardly methodical and led to arbitrariness, section 21 of the Act of Union giving Governor Lord Sydenham the authority to establish the boundaries of the cities of Montreal and Quebec City and the towns of Trois-Rivières and Sherbrooke for electoral purposes. The map therefore included 40 electoral divisions and was used for the general elections of 1841, 1844, 1847 and 1851.


1853

This map includes 62 electoral divisions and was used for the general election of 1854.


1855

This map includes 64 electoral divisions and was used for the general election of 1857.


1860

This map includes 68 electoral divisions and was used for the general elections of 1861 and 1863.


1867

With the proclamation of the British North America Act (BNAA), Québec took back its own parliamentary institutions. The Legislative Assembly was henceforth entitled to delimit the province’s electoral divisions. However, under section 80 of the BNAA, 12 electoral divisions were “protected” and could not be altered without the agreement of the absolute majority of their representatives. This map includes 68 electoral divisions and was used for the general elections of 1867, 1871, 1875, 1878, 1881 and 1886.


1890

This map includes 74 electoral divisions and was used for the general elections of 1890 and 1892.


1895

This map includes 75 electoral divisions and was used for the general elections of 1897, 1900, 1904 and 1908.


1912

This map includes 82 electoral divisions and was used for the general elections of 1912, 1916 and 1919.


1922

This map includes 86 electoral divisions and was used for the general elections of 1923 and 1927.


1930

This map includes 91 electoral divisions and was used for the general elections of 1931, 1935 and 1936.


1939

This map includes 87 electoral divisions and was used for the general election of 1939.


1944

This map includes 92 electoral divisions and was used for the general election of 1944.


1945

This map includes 92 electoral divisions and was used for the general elections of 1948 and 1952.


1954

This map includes 93 electoral divisions and was used for the general election of 1956.


1960

This map includes 95 electoral divisions and was used for the general elections of 1960 and 1962.


1962

On January 15, 1962, a committee formed of non-parliamentary experts, chaired by Fernand Grenier, was commissioned by the government to perform a preliminary study pertaining to electoral map revision. The Grenier report included several important measures to improve the electoral map revision process, including criteria for the delimitation of electoral divisions and a recommendation to entrust this responsibility to an independent body.


1965

The new electoral map, delimited for the first time by an independent commission of the Legislative Assembly, increased the number of electoral divisions from 95 to 108 and was used for the general elections of 1966 and 1970.


1970

Section 80 of the British North America Act, which had permitted the existence of “protected counties” since 1867, was abolished.


1971

The Standing Commission on Reform of the Electoral Districts (SCRED) was formed. An advisory body responsible for delimiting electoral districts according to certain criteria established by law, the SCRED was composed of the Chief Electoral Officer and two other members appointed by the National Assembly, upon motion of the premier.


1972

The new electoral map, proposed by the CPRDE, increased the number of electoral divisions from 108 to 110 and was used for the general elections of 1973 and 1976 and for the referendum of 1980.


1978

Responsibility for applying certain legal provisions concerning the delimitation of municipal electoral districts was entrusted to the SCRED.


1979

Creation of the Commission de la représentation électorale (CRE) for the purpose of determining electoral divisions on the basis of new delimitation criteria and the principle that the vote of each elector has equal weight. The CRE was also responsible for naming the electoral divisions after seeking the advice of the Commission de toponymie. Mechanisms by which to consult representatives, ordinary citizens, and bodies concerned with the delimitation of electoral divisions were implemented. At the time, the CRE was composed of the Director General for Representation and two commissioners, one of whom could be the Chief Electoral Officer.


1980

The new electoral map, delimited by the CRE, raises the number of electoral divisions from 110 to 122 and was used for the general election of 1981.


1983

Since January 1, 1983, the CRE has been composed of the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec, who is also ex officio chair, and two commissioners appointed by the National Assembly upon motion of the premier, approved by two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly. The Chief Electoral Officer must provide the CRE with professional and technical support.


1985

This map includes 122 electoral divisions and was used for the general election of 1985.


1987

The Act respecting electoral representation established that there would be no fewer than 122 and no more than 125 electoral divisions. In addition, the number of electors per electoral division was determined in accordance with the quotient obtained by dividing the total number of electors by the number of electoral divisions, and was no longer set out in the law.


1988

The new electoral map increased the number of electoral divisions from 122 to 125 and was used for the general election of 1989 and the referendum of 1992.


1989

The Election Act, L.R.Q., c. E-3.3, replaced the Representation Act.


1991

Following a Supreme Court of Canada ruling, the new principle of “effective representation” was introduced to guide the delimitation of electoral divisions. The delimitation of electoral divisions was now carried out after the second general election following the last delimitation.


1992

This map includes 125 electoral divisions and was used for the general elections of 1994 and 1998 and for the referendum of 1995.


2001

This map includes 125 electoral divisions and was used for the general elections of 2003, 2007 and 2008.


2011

This map includes 125 electoral divisions and was used for the general elections of 2012 and 2014.


2017

A new electoral map has been established by the Commission. This map includes 125 electoral divisions and came into force on August 23, 2018.


Sources :

COMMISSION PERMANENTE DE LA RÉFORME DES DISTRICTS ÉLECTORAUX. Rapport de la Commission permanente de la réforme des districts électoraux, Québec, March 1972, 226 pp.

DIRECTEUR GÉNÉRAL DES ÉLECTIONS DU QUÉBEC. Cinquante ans au cœur de la démocratie : Le Directeur général des élections et l'évolution de la législation électorale de 1945 à 1995, Sainte-Foy, Études électorales, June 1996, 53 pp.

DIRECTEUR GÉNÉRAL DES ÉLECTIONS DU QUÉBEC. La toponymie électorale au fil de l'histoire de la carte électorale du Québec, Sainte-Foy, Études électorales, 1985, 157 pp.