HALIFAX: A commission on effective electoral representation for Acadian and African Nova Scotians is making stops in the Strait area.
The commission is set to visit Centre La Picasse in Petit de Grat on September 25 and the Sunnyville Community Hall in Guysborough County on September 28.
Commission chair Doug Keefe said their mandate requires public consultation on effective representation. He said the 13 province-wide meetings are being held to allow people to voice their opinions and concerns on representation.
Once the meetings wrap up, the commission will compile a report and provide it to the government on November 1.
“After that, our terms of reference indicate that the government will take steps to initiate a boundary commission in January of 2018,” he said. “It has to be established by the house. It can’t be established by the government.”
Keefe said the report will include the commission’s views on ways to improve the effectiveness of representation in the provincial legislature and the Government of Nova Scotia.
On January 24, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal concluded a 2012 change to Nova Scotia electoral boundaries violated Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by altering of the electoral districts of Clare, Argyle and Richmond.
“If you trace this back, that’s really the initiating point,” said Keefe of the 2012 change, when asked if the issue is related to electoral boundary changes. “We had four protected ridings, of which Richmond was one, since 1992. In 2012, the [NDP] government used its majority in the house to restrict the boundaries commission… That had the affect of basically doing away with the protected ridings. That’s been an ongoing dispute or controversy, particularly in the Acadian communities.”
Keefe said he feels it is important that the commission is also looking at any ways to improve the effectiveness of representation for Acadians and African Nova Scotians.
“Not to the exclusion of the protected ridings, but also what does effective representations mean,” he said.
“Everybody has a stake in effective representation. If people have ideas for effective representation for these communities, everybody is welcome to come and speak and the ideas will be weighed on the basis of the strength of the idea. We’re really hoping for large turn-outs from the Acadian and African Nova Scotian communities because they’ve been historically underrepresented in the long history of this piece of rock in the ocean. That’s what we’re trying to improve.”