Commission calls for return of 4 electoral districts in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s independent electoral boundaries commission is recommending the return of four protected districts the former NDP government did away with.

The commission released its final report Monday and is calling for a return to 55 seats in the Nova Scotia Legislature, up from the current 51.

The report recommends the return of the former protected districts of Argyle, Clare, Richmond and Preston. The first three were established to encourage more Acadian participation, while Preston is to encourage more African-Nova Scotian participation.

While a 2012 commission report recommended keeping those seats, the NDP government of the day vetoed that plan and eliminated the seats, prompting a court challenge by the province’s Acadian federation and ultimately the work by the current commission.

Other recommended changes

There are changes recommended to other electoral districts, too. Notably, a seat specifically for Queens, covering all of Queens County, would be restored and Shelburne would go back to its more traditional boundaries prior to its current merger with Queens.

Guysborough-Tracadie would be created, removing the Eastern Shore portion of the current district to make it more geographically manageable for the representative.

With Clare becoming a standalone seat as per the commission, the electoral district of Digby-Annapolis would be created. There are also recommended changes to the boundaries of many of the seats in Halifax Regional Municipality in an effort to recognize the recent population growth within that municipality.

The report had support from all commissioners, except when it came to one issue. Four members of the commission signed a letter of dissent, disagreeing with the final decision not to create a new protected electoral district for residents of Chéticamp and environs.

The group argued the Acadian population in the area is not well served by the current single seat for Inverness and wanted a 56th seat. Not doing so reflects an urban-rural divide on the commission and in the province in general, authors of the letter of dissent said.

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