Nova Scotia

Dexter to electoral group: Do the job

Premier Darrell Dexter says the Electoral Boundaries Commission needs to do the work it was asked to do.

Premier Darrell Dexter says the Electoral Boundaries Commission needs to do the work it was asked to do.

Dexter repeated his call to order Thursday, one day after the commission chairwoman said her group would try to meet the terms of reference.

"I understand that this responsibility carries with it a certain amount of controversy and a certain amount of pressure, but the terms of reference that were determined by the legislature set out the mandate for the commission," he said.

"They accepted that responsibility when they became members of the commission and they need to live up to the responsibility they took on."

The commission was tasked with redrawing Nova Scotia's electoral map. In an interim report released last week, it ignored a requirement that all constituencies be within 25 per cent of the average number of voters.

The group called for four "protected constituencies" of Clare, Argyle, Preston and Richmond — largely Acadian or African-Nova Scotian areas — even though these minority group districts don't meet the 25 per cent criteria.

On Wednesday, commission chairwoman Teresa MacNeil said the group understands that its report won't be accepted if it doesn't follow the terms of reference. She said they would try to adhere to the rules.

But she also said the commission plans to talk about the four districts and their voter makeup during public hearings.

Dexter said protecting four seats for possible Acadian and African-Nova Scotian representation cannot be done if it means keeping them the same size.

Though the law says the government shall accept the commission's final report, Dexter said anything short of what's expected can be rejected.

"If they don't deliver a report that actually reflects the mandate, then we're not delivered a report that we can deal with. I mean, they have to actually deliver a product that accurately reflects the instructions of the legislature," he said.

The terms of reference were set out by an NDP-dominated committee of the legislature. Opposition Liberal and Progressive Conservative MLAs disagreed, but the plan still passed.

With files from The Canadian Press