Give it back

Com­mis­sion told to make Shel­burne County whole again

Tri-County Vanguard - - FRONT PAGE - KATHY JOHN­SON THECOASTGUARD.CA

Shel­burne res­i­dents want their rid­ing to be whole again.

There was no minc­ing words at the pro­vin­cial Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion re­view hear­ing in Shel­burne on Sept. 7, where com­mis­sion mem­bers were told by speaker af­ter speaker to make the elec­toral district of Shel­burne County whole again.

About 60 peo­ple at­tended the hear­ing. The com­mis­sion is al­ready propos­ing, in part, to in­crease the num­ber of seats in the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture to 55 from 51 by restor­ing the seats of Clare, Ar­gyle, Pre­ston and Rich­mond and creat­ing two ad­di­tional elec­toral dis­tricts in Bed­ford and Sackville through a reshuf­fling of other dis­tricts.

If what is be­ing pro­posed be­comes re­al­ity, Shel­burne County will be its own pro­vin­cial con­stituency again, and gone will be the rid­ings of Ar­gyle-Bar­ring­ton and Queens-Shel­burne, cre­ated af­ter the last pro­vin­cial elec­toral bound­ary re­view in 2012 in a process that many feel was se­verely flawed.

“It is our opin­ion that this process was se­ri­ously flawed from the be­gin­ning,” said Shel­burne Mayor Karen Mat­tatall. “The com­mis­sion failed to con­sult the peo­ple of Shel­burne County as it did all other ar­eas that would be af­fected by the rec­om­men­da­tion.”

John Davis told the com­mis­sion Shel­burne County was “torn asun­der by mis­guided pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion in 2012.”

“The elec­toral bound­aries com­mis­sion fi­nal re­port in 2012 de­nied Shel­burne County vot­ing rights just as it did Ar­gyle, Clare and Rich­mond,” he said. “We’re not ask­ing, we’re de­mand­ing, based upon the rul­ing of the court, that griev­ous wrong has to be rec­ti­fied and Shel­burne County is to be made whole again and the MLA re­turned so we have fair rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the leg­is­la­ture. As far as many of us are con­cerned it’s a le­gal is­sue. Shel­burne County was treated just as un­fairly as the French rid­ings.”

Shel­burne busi­ness­man Robert Red­ding told the com­mis­sion that when look­ing at the 2012 hear­ings there is com­ment, to the ef­fect, that there is his­tor­i­cal com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity with the peo­ple of Shel­burne County – par­tic­u­larly the east­ern por­tion – with Queens County.

“Based on my pro­fes­sional ex- pe­ri­ence, not enough com­merce is con­ducted be­tween the two coun­ties to qual­ify as any defin­ing fac­tor to­wards the re­align­ment that took place,” he said. “My prac­tice was founded by my fa­ther in 1960. We’ve been at it 58 years. From those years I’ve seen a lot of trans­ac­tions and not too many be­tween those two coun­ties.

“The trade route in Shel­burne County is within Shel­burne County - not Queens County,” he said, adding Lunen­burg County is Queens County’s his­tor­i­cal co­com­mu­nity.

Shel­burne Mu­nic­i­pal War­den Penny Smith said there is no ques­tion the fi­nal re­port in 2012 was only re­quired be­cause of the “wrong­ful in­ter­ven­tion of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral and the gov­ern­ment’s de­sire to elim­i­nate the dis­tinct elec­toral dis­tricts of Ar­gyle, Clare and Rich­mond.” She said it was clear from the com­mis­sion’s ini­tial in­terim re­port – which should have been ac­cepted by gov­ern­ment – that the elec­toral district of Shel­burne would have re­mained un­changed.

“There was not then and there is not now any com­pelling rea­son to change the elec­toral district of Shel­burne,” she said. “In or­der to cor­rect the wrong that was com­mit­ted by the gov­ern­ment the elec­toral district of Shel­burne should be made whole again.”

Smith said the five mu­nic­i­pal units in Shel­burne County all share a com­mon com­mu­nity and should be re­spected.

“The un­con­sti­tu­tional ac­tions of the gov­ern­ment al­tered the 150- year his­tory of leg­isla­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion for Shel­burne County,” she added. “We hope the com­mis­sion will take the op­por­tu­nity to cor­rect this wrong.”

Shel­burne res­i­dent Roy O’Don­nell told the com­mis­sion county res­i­dents “have waited for six long years and tonight we have the op­por­tu­nity to have our say.”

“Shel­burne’s rid­ing did not have to be sac­ri­ficed,” he said. “There were other op­tions. There were bet­ter op­tions.”

O’Don­nell asked that Shel­burne County “be as­sured of ef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion by the re­turn of Shel­burne’s bound­ary to its right­ful place and that each rec­og­nized county in Nova Sco­tia be en­ti­tled to a min­i­mum of one MLA.”

“This would nei­ther in­crease or de­crease the num­ber of rid­ings in the prov­ince but would en­sure each county would have its own in­di­vid­ual voice in Hal­i­fax and then no other rid­ing would be sac­ri­ficed just to in­crease the num­bers in an­other ad­join­ing con­stituency,” he said.

KATHY JOHN­SON PHOTO

Ar­gyle Bar­ring­ton MLA Chris d’En­tremont and Queens-Shel­burne MLA Kim Masland look at the elec­toral bound­ary map that pro­poses to re­store the rid­ing of Shel­burne County, and would cre­ate a new rid­ing of Queens-Lunen­burg West, at the pro­vin­cial Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion re­view hear­ing in Shel­burne on Sept. 7.

KATHY JOHN­SON PHOTO

Peo­ple lis­ten to the speak­ers at the pro­vin­cial Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion re­view hear­ing in Shel­burne on Sept. 7.

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