The Electoral Boundaries Commission released its final report, today, Sept. 25.
Commission members were appointed at the end of December 2011, to establish not more than 52 seats that would allow each voter in the province to enjoy the same voting power, to the greatest extent possible. The commission was asked that all constituencies fall within 25 per cent of the average number of electors. The commission submitted the report to the attorney general on Monday and to the clerk of the House this morning.
The commission was also asked to address concerns about the size of geographic areas, community history and interests, and linguistic and cultural diversity, noting the Acadian and African-Nova Scotian populations.
A wide range of views about electoral boundaries were expressed to the commission through two rounds of public meetings, and by a large number of e-mails, letters and telephone calls. Nova Scotians demonstrated, quite convincingly, that this issue was important to them.
"This final report completes the third review of Nova Scotia's electoral boundaries since 1992," said commission chair Teresa MacNeil. "Changes in population call for shifts in legislative representation to achieve relative voting parity in light of sometimes conflicting public views and interests."
The final report proposes:
-- there should be 51 members in the House of Assembly
-- one constituency should be removed from Cape Breton and two from mainland Nova Scotia
-- two new constituencies are recommended for the Halifax area
-- boundary adjustments in the remaining constituencies are also guided by the goal of relative voter parity
While the commission was not bound by county or municipal boundaries in redistribution, these have been used wherever possible. The commission accommodated existing polling districts and used land features such as highways and water bodies that provide natural and workable separation of population areas.
Despite the challenges posed by Nova Scotia's geography and population distribution, all of the province's geographic regions fall within 15 per cent from equal electoral population. Elector populations in 31 constituencies fall within 15 per cent of the average and 22 constituencies fall within 10 per cent.
To read the report online, go to http://nselectoralboundaries.ca/publications/ .