Group proposes 3-Acadian seat plan for legislature
An Acadian community group from Halifax is proposing a plan that would ensure Acadians keep three seats in the Nova Scotia legislature, but those MLAs would represent more than just one riding.
The survival of those Acadian ridings is a hot topic in French-speaking communities across the province.
In December, an all-party committee of the legislature recommended new rules that would change provincial electoral boundaries and require all ridings to have roughly the same number of voters.
Nova Scotia's three protected Acadian ridings are Clare, Argyle and Richmond, and have much smaller populations than most others.
The Preston riding, which is predominately African Nova Scotian, could also lose its special minority status if the recommendations go through.
The proposal is to replace the Acadian ridings with three Acadian regions. Each one — South West, Central and North Eastern would be represented by an Acadian MLA elected by voters in those regions.
There would still be 52 representatives in the legislature, but three of them would be there to safeguard Acadian interests.
"What we're defending is that we want to at least maintain three Acadian MLAs in the Legislative Assembly," said Jules Chiasson, one of the creators of the proposal. "Already it's a very small proportion of the 52 members. We don't want to see it diminished."
The province's largest Acadian group is already talking about going to court to safeguard the three seats, but head of the Federation Acadienne de la Nouvelle Ecosse isn't sold on the compromise solution.
"We are not prepared to take a back seat and say that the three ridings can be diminished," said Ron Robichaud. "We think we have a good Charter challenge to maintain our three electoral districts as they now stand."
The Provincial Boundaries Commission, the group reviewing Nova Scotia's electoral boundaries, is holding a series of public meetings around the province in March and April and has launched a website where questions and comments can be submitted.
The commission is supposed to file an interim report in May.