The 2 commissioners who oversaw a committee to review the electoral boundaries are asking the federal government to alter the laws to permit a component of Shediac-Cap-Acadie to stay in a primarily Francophone area.
Provincial law requires the boundaries to be reviewed every 10 years, resulting in some changes that drew criticism.
In the unique proposal, the riding of Tantramar, which is especially anglophone, had below the required variety of voters to sustain its own riding. The commission proposed, under the foundations, a piece of Shediac-Cap-Acadie be added to Tantramar to make up the difference.
However the two areas are linguistically different and the community and its MLA spoke against it.
“We did make changes where possible,” said co-commissioner Roger Clinch. “Within the case of the brand new electoral district of Tantramar, the commission was asked to reconsider including a small portion of electors in Cap-Acadie. This could have required ignoring the utmost deviation allowed within the electoral quotient.”
The maths of the electorate
The quotient is the mathematical equation that determines the variety of electors in a riding and every riding about an equal number.
It does allow for a deviation as much as 25 per cent.
Tantarmar didn’t meet that rule, with the report saying it exceeded 29 per cent. It added 760 voters from Cap-Acadie.
Fellow commissioner Camille Thériault said it asked for a legal opinion, which said the commission didn’t have the authority to override the foundations within the laws.
It said the suggestion to alter those rules across the quotient has been done in other provinces. The commission called for an overhaul of the way it determined.
“We’re saying, within the meantime, just make this … an exception due to the extraordinary circumstances,” Thériault said.
It’s something Shediac-Beaubassin-Cap-Pelé MLA Jacques LeBlanc said he respects.
“We’re going to attempt to bring solutions to remediate this challenge,” he said, chatting with reporters on Monday. “They got a legal opinion. Got to respect that. We have now a committee, I actually have a committee, of residents which might be fully engaged, that were against this, so I actually have to return to them and seek the advice of.”
LeBlanc said he doesn’t know whether changes to the laws would go through the home, but he’s going to try.
Anthony Azard got here as a representative of the Cap-Acadie Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re very disillusioned with the choice today … it’s not the choice we expected,” he said.
He said he might be collecting signatures from a petition already circulating to be presented at the subsequent sitting of the legislature.
“I respect the work they did,” he said.
Fredericton split down the center
It wasn’t the one riding that saw unwanted changes. The capital region, particularly the riding of Fredericton South, has been split in two.
It’s Green Party leader David Coon’s riding. No representative of the provincial Green Party was chosen to be on the committee, despite the direct impact to his riding and the presence of representatives from each the Liberals and Conservatives — including a former premier.
He said the choice to separate the riding down the centre of downtown doesn’t make sense and goes against even the proposal by the City of Fredericton.
“It’s going to be difficult to offer effective representation when the downtown community might be divided, when the downtown residential plat might be divided, when actually a ward of Oromocto is connected to the brand new proposed Fredericton riding,” he said.
The commissioners defended their decision on Monday, saying the changes do align with the City of Fredericton’s request, which was to make 4 urban ridings, and so as achieve that, it cut them as much as have three urban ridings and one mostly urban.
“It’s illogical,” Coon said.
He said he’ll be filing a grievance, and the commission has 30 days to answer any objections on the changes, but isn’t required to do anything with them.
The commissioner did make changes to other areas that we highlighted as a priority, including maintaining Neguac within the Miramichi region.
“Examples included St. Quentin, Restigouche County, Neguac, and Campobello Island, amongst others,” Clinch said.
The brand new boundaries might be contested within the election scheduled for 2024.