New electoral boundaries map may be challenged by francophones

The Acadian Society of New Brunswick is considering a possible legal challenge of the new electoral boundaries map for the province, according to the president.

Acadian Society of New Brunswick feels ignored by commission, says president

The Acadian Society of New Brunswick is considering a possible legal challenge of the new electoral boundaries map for the province, according to the president.

Jean-Marie Nadeau says the group feels ignored by the Electoral Boundaries and Representation Commission's final report, which was released on Thursday.

"I think it's the most stubborn commission I've seen in my life," Nadeau told CBC News.

"They designed the new electoral map for New Brunswick like if we're living Saskatchewan, forgetting that we're living in New Brunswick."

Under the new map, the commission reduced the number of ridings to 49 from 55, as required by law. Rural areas lose seats, while fast-growing Greater Moncton gains one.

Nadeau said he's been working since January, when the commission released its proposed changes, to ensure French-speaking New Brunswickers are fairly represented in the legislature.

But the commission's plans to push ahead with merging Memramcook with the predominantly English-speaking Sackville ignores the historical importance and cultural identity of the mostly francophone village.

"That riding will be only 29 per cent francophone, and it's the birthplace of Acadie," said Nadeau. "It's very iconic for us."

Memramcook Deputy Mayor Raoul Boudreau says the news hit the village hard.

"It's too bad, or sad to see everything we put into it and nothing happens," he said.

"It's like the decision was made before … They want to hear all our ideas and comments and everything, but at the end of the day, I don't think they take it seriously."

Some people in the community see it as an opportunity to share their culture.

"We can teach them a bit about what being Acadian is, if we're all part of the same group," said Natalie Cormier.

Others, like Irene LeBlanc, however, are pessimistic about the political process in general.

"They're gonna do what they wanna do, dear, that's the bottom line," she said. "They say that they asked people this and they asked people that. I don't believe that."

Members of the public have 14 days to file objections, which must be signed by at least two members of the legislature.

The commission is free to ignore those objections.

If it does, and if court challenges are unsuccessful, the new map will become law for next year's provincial election.