Bring­ing back pro­tected rid­ings in­cluded in op­tions

Elec­toral bound­aries com­mis­sion rec­om­mend­ing four op­tions in in­terim re­port

Tri-County Vanguard - - NEWS - KATHY JOHNSON TRICOUNTY VAN­GUARD

The elec­toral dis­tricts of Ar­gyle, Shel­burne County, Queens County and Clare would be re­stored, and the rid­ing of Digby-An­napo­lis cre­ated, in three of the four op­tions be­ing rec­om­mended by the Nova Sco­tia Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion in its in­terim re­port re­leased on Nov. 28.

The 84-page re­port ‘Strik­ing a bal­ance be­tween ef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion and voter par­ity,’ is a fol­low up to the first round of pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions held late in the sum­mer and early fall as part of the in­de­pen­dent re­view process.

“The key is­sues con­fronting this com­mis­sion are es­sen­tially those that chal­lenged the pre­vi­ous com­mis­sions,” said chair Colin Dodds in a me­dia re­lease. “They are how to bal­ance ef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion of African Nova Sco­tian and Aca­dian elec­tors with voter par­ity and ac­com­mo­date the on­go­ing shift of pop­u­la­tion from ru­ral ar­eas as well as tak­ing ac­count of the ge­og­ra­phy of the prov­ince.”

The Com­mis­sion was not man­dated to come up with a fixed num­ber of seats, but is re­quired to have one set of bound­aries of 51 seats, the cur­rent size of the house, and

at least one dif­fer­ent to­tal num­ber of elec­toral dis­tricts.

The four op­tions rec­om­mended in the re­port are:

• Draw elec­toral bound­aries such that there are 51 elec­toral dis­tricts in Nova Sco­tia;

• Draw elec­toral bound­aries such that there are 55 elec­toral dis­tricts in Nova Sco­tia, which in­clude the four formerly pro­tected elec­toral dis­tricts of Ar­gyle, Clare, Rich­mond, and Pre­ston;

• Draw elec­toral bound­aries such that there are 55 elec­toral dis­tricts in Nova Sco­tia but 56 seats in the House of Assem­bly. This would in­clude the dual-mem­ber elec­toral dis­trict of In­ver­ness, which would have one MLA to rep­re­sent the geo­graphic elec­toral dis­trict and one MLA to rep­re­sent the Aca­dian con­stituency; and

• Draw elec­toral bound­aries such that there are 56 elec­toral dis­tricts, in­clud­ing the ex­cep­tional elec­toral dis­tricts of Pre­ston, Ar­gyle, Clare, Rich­mond and the ad­di­tion of Chéti­camp.

In the 51 dis­tricts sce­nario, there would be no change to the ex­ist­ing elec­toral bound­aries of the Queens-Shel­burne, Ar­gyle-Bar­ring­ton and Clare-Digby rid­ings, estab­lished af­ter the last bound­ary re­view in 2012.

The rec­om­men­da­tion to cre­ate 55 elec­toral dis­tricts, in­cludes the four formerly pro­tected elec­toral dis­tricts of Ar­gyle, Clare, Rich­mond, and Pre­ston.

“We chose to main­tain the four ex­cep­tional elec­toral dis­tricts… be­cause these are an­chor com­mu­ni­ties with no­table con­cen­trated pop­u­la­tions of mi­nor­ity cul­tural com­mu­ni­ties—Aca­dian and African Nova Sco­tian—that are in­dige­nous to Nova Sco­tia,” states the re­port. “We feel that it is im­por­tant to use this op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue to fos­ter and pro­tect these com­mu­ni­ties so that they can con­tinue to de­velop and sur­vive. “We have drawn bound­aries for these elec­toral dis­tricts in a non­par­ti­san and fair man­ner to en­case a con­cen­trated mi­nor­ity. We have de­vi­ated from voter par­ity to favour mi­nori­ties in the elec­toral process by in­creas­ing the weight of their vote in smaller rid­ings,” the re­port states. “In es­tab­lish­ing these ex­cep­tional elec­toral dis­tricts, we ac­knowl­edge the sig­nif­i­cance of these mi­nor­ity groups to our prov­ince’s his­tory and cul­tural life. These elec­toral dis­tricts are sym­bols of recog­ni­tion as well as tan­gi­ble in­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ments that are de­signed to en­hance con­sti­tu­tion­ally pro­tected ef­fec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tion.”

The Elec­toral Bound­aries Com­mis­sion will be hold­ing the next round of pub­lic meet­ings in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary 2019. Un­der the Terms of Ref­er­ence, the com­mis­sion is to sub­mit its fi­nal re­port by Apr. 1, 2019. The elec­toral bound­aries of Nova Sco­tia are re­viewed at least ev­ery 10 years. Com­mis­sion mem­bers were ap­pointed in July by an all-party 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 full in­terim re­port is avail­able online at the Nova Sco­tia Elec­toral Bound­aries web­site.

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