Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Premier Will Allow Fisheries Minister to Vote against Riding Changes

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia Premier Will Allow Fisheries Minister to Vote against Riding Changes

Article excerpt

Premier allows minister to vote against bill

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HALIFAX - A Nova Scotia cabinet minister will be allowed to vote against legislation that would redraw the province's electoral map, Premier Darrell Dexter said Thursday.

Dexter said Fisheries Minister Sterling Belliveau can vote his conscience on changes that would see his Shelburne riding cut in half so that his constituents know their voice was heard.

"I know that's an unusual thing for executive council members to be allowed to do, but I think in the circumstances it's appropriate," he said.

Dexter wouldn't say whether all members of his caucus will be required to vote for the changes, but he said he expects they will vote in favour of the new boundaries, which have sparked uproar in some of the affected areas of the province.

He said his government would accept the redrawing of the boundaries that were proposed in a final report by the Nova Scotia Electoral Boundaries Commission.

"We see this as the report of the independent commission. The legislation reflects the commission's report so we will forward the commission's report to the house for a vote."

The report merges four ridings intended to represent the province's black and Acadian populations with other ridings.

Belliveau spoke out against the changes last month, saying his constituents weren't consulted by the commission. That prompted the government's unprecedented move of sending the law amendments committee to Shelburne for two days of public hearings.

During hearings held earlier this month, a majority of the presenters from the riding also opposed the changes.

On Thursday, Belliveau said he was disappointed by how the situation turned out.

"I have been very clear and I will not waver ... and I will be voting against this," he told reporters. "I think this process has failed the people of Shelburne County. …

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