Nova Scotia

Dexter says electoral boundaries bill won't die

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter says he's not planning to let a bill on changing the province's electoral boundaries die on the order paper.

$396,342 spent on proposed boundary changes so far

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter says he's not planning to let a bill on changing the province's electoral boundaries die on the order paper.

Speaking from Ottawa on Tuesday following a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Dexter said he would seek input from caucus members and find a way to move the bill forward before the issue is sent back to the legislature's law amendments committee.

He said the government won't reveal its next move on whether to amend the electoral boundaries as proposed by the Electoral Boundaries Commission, and blamed the opposition parties for the fact the process has become contentious.

"We tried to rise above the political aspects or nature of the house in order to get a result that would be good for our democracy," Dexter said.

"In my view, the opposition parties decided to politicize this right from the very beginning so we got a politicized result."

The Electoral Boundaries Commission was tasked with redrawing the province's electoral map to ensure voters are afforded equal representation in the legislative assembly — a process that is carried out every 10 years to reflect population changes.

The proposed changes, which would see four ridings intended to represent the province's black and Acadian populations merged with other ridings, prompted a significant public outcry.

The legislation has passed second reading and Dexter would not say whether the government will pass it as is, or propose changes.

He also wouldn't speculate on whether NDP government members would be instructed on how to vote if a roll call is taken in the legislature on third and final reading.

"We are discussing all of those things right now and to make pronouncements without having fully heard out all of caucus is just not the kind of inclusiveness that people expect," said Dexter.

Meanwhile, figures released by the government showed the attempt to redraw the province's boundaries has cost nearly $400,000 so far.

The government budgeted $450,000 for the work of the Electoral Boundaries Commission and said it had spent $396,342 to date.

With files from The Canadian Press

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