Tories plan to cut MLAs to 49

The Alward government has introduced a law to drop the number of MLAs to 49 from 55.

The Progressive Conservative government is proposing to cut the number of MLAs to 49 from 55 and change how the electoral boundaries are redrawn.

Government House Leader Paul Robichaud introduced changes to the Electoral Boundaries and Representation Act on Tuesday in the legislature.

The changes, if approved, would see the number of MLAs drop to 49.

British Columbia85
New Brunswick - current55
New Brunswick - proposed49
Nova Scotia52
Newfoundland and Labrador48
Northwest Territories19

The proposed changes also stipulate a new electoral boundaries commission must be struck 24 to 25 months before the 2014 election. That means the commission will likely be formed in the summer of 2012.

A new commission must be formed 24 to 25 months before every second fixed election date and no more than 10 years can pass between commissions.

The commission must release its preliminary report within five months, up from three months.

The provincial government is also changing the formula on how ridings can change.

When the riding map was revised in 2005, the province’s population of roughly 750,000 was divided by the 55 ridings to give an average number of residents of 13,263.

The commission of two judges and five members overseeing the revision were allowed to deviate by 10 per cent, so a riding could have between 11,937 and 14,589 residents.

The Tories are proposing to change the riding calculations so they are based on the number of voters and not population. But the variance is dropping to five per cent from 10 per cent.

Premier David Alward promised that he would reduce the number of politicians inside the legislature during his throne speech.

"What I can tell you is that if we look at the rest of the country, after P.E.I., we are the most represented province in Canada. But again, MLAs do vital work on behalf of the people of New Brunswick," Alward told reporters in November.

It is believed that northern New Brunswick would stand to lose seats due to population decline.