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NS NDP member ponders legal move if election called without riding boundary review

A veteran NDP member of the Nova Scotia legislature says he's considering taking the Liberal government to court if an election is called without first using a formal commission to redraw the province's electoral boundaries.
A veteran NDP member of the Nova Scotia legislature says he's considering taking the Liberal government to court if an election is called without first using a formal commission to redraw the province's electoral boundaries. Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

The possibility of a provincial election without a review of Nova Scotia’s electoral boundaries is prompting a veteran NDP member of the legislature to consider taking the Liberal government to court.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia must review riding boundaries before election or risk legal action: Tories

Sterling Belliveau, a cabinet minister in the former NDP government of Premier Darrell Dexter, says he’s in the process of talking to lawyers about possible legal action.

In an interview Wednesday, Belliveau said he is acting of his own accord and not on behalf of his party.

“We will see what the future brings but I hope other people join in the parade,” he said.

Last week the Opposition Progressive Conservatives said they were considering legal options after a court ruling recently found that a previous boundary redrawing by the former NDP government violated the voter rights section of the Charter of Rights.

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The Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia took court action after the 2012 boundary change eliminated three protected Acadian districts.

Belliveau voted against the boundary changes while in government because they also split his then district of Shelburne, merging half with Queens County and the other half with the Barrington area.

“I said you can’t do that without consultation and I truly believe when you do something like that it affects a lot of people,” said Belliveau. “This (review) is a proper process that needs to be followed and our Charter of Rights gives us those protections.”

READ MORE: Acadian group to take Nova Scotia to court over electoral boundary changes

Electoral boundary commissions are appointed by a legislature committee to prepare a report, for approval by the legislature, that recommends the names and boundaries of a riding.

To date, Michel Samson, the minister responsible for the Office of Acadian Affairs, has refused to divulge the government’s response to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ruling. Talks are ongoing with the Acadian Federation about how to proceed.

Samson has said the outcome of those discussions will be made public.

Belliveau said there is plenty of time left in the government’s current mandate to call for a new boundary review. He noted that a similar exercise is currently being conducted in Prince Edward Island.

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“They’ve engaged their electoral boundaries commission and are proceeding exactly the way I think we should here in Nova Scotia.”

Following January’s court ruling Samson said the government is open to having an independent boundaries commission examine the province’s 51 ridings.