Lone dissenter resigns from N.S. electoral group

The only member of a Nova Scotia commission who disagreed with retaining protected ridings in the province has resigned from her position.

The only member of a Nova Scotia commission who disagreed with retaining protected ridings in the province has resigned from her position.

Jill Grant was the sole dissenter in the Nova Scotia Electoral Boundaries Commission who wanted to work within the commission's terms of reference that say all constituencies must be within 25 per cent of the average number of electors.

The retention of the four "protected constituencies" — Clare, Argyle, Preston and Richmond — goes against the terms of reference because they don't meet the 25 per cent requirement.

"In my view, the commission cannot ignore its terms of reference. It must follow the guidelines that the province has given it," Grant said during last week's press conference into the commission's report.

Preston has a large black population, while the ridings of Clare, Argyle and Richmond have a high percentage of francophone constituents.

Grant said she submitted her resignation to Attorney General Ross Landry the day he received the commission's report.

"I expressed to him my opinion that we had failed in our duty to the province," she told CBC News in an email.

"I saw little point in continuing on the commission given the current situation where my views are so much at odds with the other commissioners."

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.

It wasn't unanimous, however. Progressive Conservative and Liberal members of the committee were against the plan.

Francophone groups argued they should keep their existing three seats in the 52-seat legislature because they roughly represent the percentage of Acadians spread across the province.

Grant argued members of the legislature could consider alternatives for preserving the representation of francophones, such as setting up constituencies without specific boundaries.

"I spent the last few months coming up with as many arguments and analytical strategies as I could muster to convince the commissioners that we should approach the work in a different way," she told CBC News.

"But, as you can see, I was not successful in persuading them."

The remaining members of the Nova Scotia Electoral Boundaries Commission are set to hold another round of public consultations on the issue before submitting a final report on Aug. 31.

With files from The Canadian Press