Nfld. & Labrador

Paul Davis to slash 10 seats in N.L. legislature

Premier Paul Davis says he will cut ten seats from the House of Assembly before the next general election this fall.

NDP calls move 'gerrymandering'

Premier Paul Davis says he will hold a provincial election in the fall. (CBC)

Premier Paul Davis says he will cut 10 seats from the House of Assembly before the next general election. 

Currently, there are 48 districts across Newfoundland and Labrador. 

Premier Davis joined by Finance Minister Ross Wiseman, made the announcement during a news conference held Thursday afternoon at Confederation Building. 

"I think the House of Assembly is too large," said Davis told reporters.

The change, which Davis says will save $2.5 million a year, will mean the House of Assembly will open early to make legislative changes. 

Davis also announced that the provincial election will be called in the fall.

Davis's office confirmed this week it was considering cutting the number of seats. Each MHA cost about $230,000 a year, including staff office and travel costs.

Opposition reacts

Following Davis's announcement, Liberal leader Dwight Ball expressed concern over the process that will be undertaken to determine which seats will get cut. 

"We'll support whatever the number is, I'm committed to less MHAs," Ball said.

"It's not really the number I'm concerned about, I'm concerned about the process."

Davis said the independent commission — that's yet to be chosen — has 90 days to determine the boundaries for new districts in the province. Currently, it is required under law that Labrador must have four MHAs. 

However, Davis said he will let the commission come to an agreement over the future of Labrador. 

Ball said he doesn't like the thought of Labrador having fewer representatives, but added he would like to hear more from the commission.

He said he hopes residents of the province will have an opportunity to give input in deciding boundaries. 

Gerrymandering

Meanwhile, NDP leader Lorraine Michael said she was "absolutely horrified" the premier set a number without any consultation.

She also called the premier's decision to change electoral boundaries gerrymandering — a process in which a political party changes the districts to its benefit.

Michael said she would be willing to filibuster any legislation that sets the number of MHAs before consultations are made. 

Opposition leaders have already said they support cutting the number of seats, but they want the numbers to be left up to an independent commission.

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