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Acadian federation wants electoral boundaries restored or will take court action – CP

by ahnationtalk on April 3, 2017855 Views

Source: The Canadian Press
Apr 3, 2017 

By Keith Doucette


HALIFAX _ The Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia is warning the province’s Liberal government it will face legal action if an election is called before the electoral map is redrawn to restore three so-called protected ridings eliminated in 2012.

The federation said Monday it will seek a court order if the government fails to act.

A Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ruling released in January found a previous boundary redrawing in 2012 violated the voter rights section of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The boundary changes eliminated the protected Acadian ridings of Clare, Argyle and Richmond.

“I don’t think it is in the government’s best interest to call an election before this issue is resolved,” said executive director Marie-Claude Rioux. “It opens a whole Pandora’s box, and I don’t think the government wants to go there.”

Rioux said her organization believes an interim solution can be found in a short amount of time.

She said that could be done by having an electoral boundaries commission reconsider a minority representation report that was rejected in 2012.

“We know that a commission was called back in New Brunswick for a federal election . . . and the commission lasted one day,” said Rioux.

She said the federation wants a full electoral boundaries commission process to decide the boundaries within the next two years.

The federation said it wants immediate discussions with the province aimed at obtaining court orders to reinforce the appeal court ruling.

Those orders would: confirm the unconstitutionality of the 2012 boundaries and the abolishment of the Acadian ridings and order the government to establish a new electoral boundaries commission with a mandate of ensuring effective representation for the Acadian community, among other things.

Rioux said the federation doesn’t want to go to court.

“We’d rather have an honest and constructive discussion with the government in order to achieve a resolution to this issue that would be satisfactory to the Acadian population,” she said.

There have been some talks with the province since the court decision, but the federation wouldn’t reveal what the government has proposed.

To date, the Liberal government hasn’t publicly stated its position, although last week, Premier Stephen McNeil said the government believes it would be fair to have an election under the current boundaries.

McNeil also said that any redrawing of the electoral map would have to start with a fresh terms of reference once a boundaries commission is selected.

Rioux said the federation “begs to differ” with the premier’s assertion that an election under the current boundaries would be constitutional in light of the appeal court ruling.

She also warned that proceeding with an election could call into question government legislation passed since the boundaries were redrawn.

“That’s why we are asking for a suspension of the decision for two years because in the meantime you have chaos. You have to solve the situation and get something in the interim that is going to be constitutional.”

The Opposition Progressive Conservatives and NDP legislature member Sterling Belliveau have also said they are looking at legal options if there is no formal boundary review.



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