Bring back for­mer rid­ings in south­west­ern N.S., com­mis­sion says

Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion re­leases fi­nal re­port

South Shore Breaker - - Health& Wellness - KATHY JOHN­SON kathy.john­son@bel­laliant.net

The Nova Sco­tia Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion is rec­om­mend­ing the Aca­dian elec­toral districts of Clare and Ar­gyle, along with the rid­ings of Shel­burne County and Queens County be re­stored, and new lines drawn for Digby and An­napo­lis in its fi­nal re­port re­leased on April 15.

The re­port en­ti­tled ‘Bal­anc­ing ef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion with voter par­ity’ pro­poses in­creas­ing the num­ber of seats in the House of As­sem­bly from 51 to 55 – which would in­clude the creation of two ad­di­tional seats for Hal­i­fax Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity and the restora­tion of the Aca­dian elec­toral dis­trict of Rich­mond, as well as the African Nova Sco­tia elec­toral dis­trict of Pre­ston.

For the fi­nal re­port, the com­mis­sion's terms of ref­er­ence man­dated that only one set of bound­aries be rec­om­mended.

Un­til 2012, Ar­gyle, Clare, Rich­mond, and Pre­ston were pro­tected rid­ings.

“These are now re­ferred to as ex­cep­tional elec­toral districts,” reads the re­port. “We feel jus­ti­fied in restor­ing these as ex­cep­tional elec­toral districts as our terms of ref­er­ence al­lows for the creation of such districts.

“Like the Mi’kmaq peo­ple, the Aca­dian and African Nova Sco­tian com­mu­ni­ties have a par­tic­u­lar cul­tural unique­ness and ter­ri­to­rial ba­sis in Nova Sco­tia that sup­ports the ar­gu­ment for re­tain­ing a form of ‘spe­cial sta­tus’ in the elec­toral re­dis­tri­bu­tion process,” states the re­port.

“This sta­tus fol­lows from the fact that they con­sti­tute mi­nor­ity cul­tural com­mu­ni­ties that are indigenous to Nova Sco­tia, and fur­ther can be said to have fairly well-de­fined ter­ri­to­rial ‘home­lands’ in this prov­ince that have been con­tin­u­ously oc­cu­pied for hun­dreds of years… In short, these mi­nor­ity cul­tures are both dis­tinc­tively Nova Sco­tian and deeply rooted in specific, ter­ri­to­ri­ally-based com­mu­ni­ties within the prov­ince.”

In Digby County, it’s rec­om­mended the bound­ary lines with neigh­bour­ing An­napo­lis County be changed. Digby is cur­rently part of a Clare-digby riding.

“We moved a sec­tion of the north­east bound­ary of the elec­toral dis­trict of Digby An­napo­lis into the ad­ja­cent dis­trict of An­napo­lis,” reads the re­port. “This change af­fects about 2,850 reg­is­tered elec­tors. It moves the fol­low­ing com­mu­ni­ties from Digby-an­napo­lis into An­napo­lis: An­napo­lis Royal part of Gray­wood, Litch­field, Port Wade, De­laps Cove, Hills­burn, Moschelle, Round Hill, Granville Beach, Kars­dale, Park­ers Cove, Victoria Beach, Granville Cen­tre, Lake La Rose, Perotte, Wrights Lake, Granville Ferry part of Le­qui­lle, and Port Royal.”

In a media re­lease, chair Colin Dodds said “the key is­sues con­fronting this com­mis­sion are essen­tially those that chal­lenged the previous com­mis­sions.”

“They are how to bal­ance ef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion of African Nova Sco­tia and Aca­dian elec­tors with voter par­ity and ac­com­mo­date the on­go­ing shift of pop­u­la­tion from rural ar­eas as well as tak­ing ac­count of the ge­og­ra­phy and com­mu­ni­ties of in­ter­est of the prov­ince,” he said.

Com­mis­sion mem­bers were ap­pointed in July 2018 by an all­party Se­lect Com­mit­tee of the House of As­sem­bly and were pro­vided with broad terms of ref­er­ence, largely drawn from the re­port of the Keefe Com­mis­sion.

The new com­mis­sion con­ducted rounds of pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions last fall and again in Jan­uary, af­ter re­leas­ing an in­terim re­port in Novem­ber 2018.

When the com­mis­sion vis­ited this re­gion as part of this lat­est dis­cus­sion on elec­toral bound­aries, restor­ing the Aca­dian rid­ings — as well as the riding of Shel­burne that years ago was split into Ar­gyle-bar­ring­ton and Queen­sShel­burne rid­ings — was the mes­sage the com­mis­sion heard.

Not ev­ery­one is com­pletely pleased with the fi­nal re­port. In a media re­lease the Fédéra­tion aca­di­enne de la Nou­velle-écosse (FANE) says it is with mixed feel­ings that it ac­knowl­edges the com­mis­sion’s fi­nal re­port.

FANE says it ap­plauds the rec­om­men­da­tion for the re­in­state­ment of elec­toral districts for Clare, Ar­gyle and Rich­mond.

How­ever, it is “ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed” with the com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tion to not pro­vide an elec­toral dis­trict for Chéti­camp, which was re­jected five votes against four. FANE says it will ap­pear be­fore the Law Amend­ments Com­mit­tee to re­it­er­ate the im­por­tance of the new elec­toral dis­trict for Chéti­camp and will ask for a mod­i­fi­ca­tion to the bill ac­cord­ingly.

The re­port will be con­sid­ered in the next ses­sion of the leg­is­la­ture. The spring sit­ting of the leg­is­la­ture wrapped up on April 12.

The com­mis­sion’s re­port can be found on­line at http://ns­e­lec­toral­bound­aries.ca.

123RF

The re­port to bring back for­mer rid­ings will be con­sid­ered in the next ses­sion of the leg­is­la­ture.

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