Nova Scotia

Electoral boundaries decision may be stalled

A decision on what's next in redrawing Nova Scotia's electoral map appears temporarily stalled in the legislature.
There has been no decision made on what to do with a report from the Electoral Boundaries Commission.

A decision on what's next in redrawing Nova Scotia's electoral map appears temporarily stalled in the legislature.

On Monday, Justice Minister Ross Landry said the government needed to take more time before it presented any potential amendments to proposed electoral boundary changes.

"The debate, discussions around this issue are rather invigorating and enlightening and we look forward to continuing to discuss this issue for the next few days," he told reporters Monday.

Last week, Premier Darrell Dexter suggested the issue would be dealt with by the legislature's law amendments committee on Tuesday.

But Landry, who is chairman of the committee, said it needed to hear from "key players" before it proceeded, although he wouldn't say who they are. He wouldn't commit to a timeline before the committee could pass the bill along for third and final reading in the legislature.

"Not tomorrow or the next day for sure," said Landry. "We want to have more dialogue."

Both opposition parties have declined Landry's call for further ideas on what to do and say they will vote against the boundary changes in any event.

Liberal committee member Michel Samson said he didn't know why the government seemed to be hesitating.

"This is a majority government, we're at a loss as to why they continue to drag their feet on this," said Samson.

"We're as much in the dark as everyone else and waiting to see how the government is going to try to fix the mess they created."

Proposed changes prompt public outcry

Progressive Conservative Chris d'Entremont said the onus was now squarely on the government to decide what to do.

"It is their decision really on whether it goes forward, whether it stays where it is or whether it gets amended," he said.

"It's really hard to fix something that has been bad from the start. Anything we would suggest at this point impacts someone else, so why would you go down that road?"

Earlier this month, NDP committee member Howard Epstein said the legislature would likely have to decide on three scenarios to resolve the ongoing dispute over electoral boundaries.

Epstein said the legislature could accept the report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission as is, scrap the report altogether and start over, or "tinker" with the report's recommendations.

As it stands the legislation, which has passed second reading in the legislature, would merge four ridings intended to represent the province's black and Acadian populations with other ridings.

The changes have prompted a significant public outcry, particularly in the province's Acadian community.