New electoral boundaries riding map released
Rural areas lose seats, growing Greater Moncton gains one
An independent commission has released its final report on the new electoral boundaries for the province, which includes at least one decision that could lead to a legal challenge.
The new map, released in Fredericton on Thursday, reduces the number of ridings to 49 from 55, as required by law.
It puts the mostly francophone village of Memramcook into the same riding as the Tantramar area. Some Memramcook residents have complained they won't have the same ability to influence government in a majority anglophone riding.
It's widely expected they and others will launch legal challenges on that basis.
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.
Under the new map, which is virtually unchanged from the commission's preliminary report in January, rural areas lose seats, while fast-growing Greater Moncton gains one.
Campbellton and Dalhousie, for example, have been merged into one riding, while McAdam will now be part of the coastal Charlotte-Campobello riding.
Commission co-chair Allan Maher says the election law prevented the commission from heeding many of the objections it heard to the preliminary map.
"The changes we made reflect the input from New Brunswickers. Where we couldn't accede to certain proposals that were made, we've explained in the report why we didn't," said Maher.
"The reason might have been that it took us outside the parameters of the legislation that we had to stick with, the five per cent," he said, referring to the requirement that all ridings have a population within five per cent of the average riding population.
The law allows exceptions in special circumstances, but Maher said the commission did not find any reasons for that.
All MLAs had voted in favour of reducing the number of seats.