MLA ponders legal action if premier won't review electoral boundaries

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MLA ponders legal action if premier won't review electoral boundaries

A former NDP cabinet minister is considering taking Premier Stephen McNeil to court if he decides to go to the polls before addressing electoral boundary changes made by the former Dexter government.

The Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse recently won a court challenge of 2012 boundary changes that removed three protected Acadian districts. A protected African Nova Scotia district was also removed and there were changes to other parts of the province, too.

Only the Acadian districts were challenged in court.

Consulting lawyers

Last week, Tory Leader Jamie Baillie said his party would consider taking the premier to court if he takes the province to the polls before revisiting the boundaries.

Now, New Democrat MLA Sterling Belliveau is weighing doing the same thing.

"I'm in the early stages of [talking with lawyers] and we're in the process of getting that started," the Queens-Shelburne MLA said in an interview.

Unlike Baillie's action, which would be on behalf of his party, Belliveau's would be of his own accord.

Against it 'from Day 1'

An added wrinkle of irony is that it was Belliveau's party, while in government, that made the changes the court ultimately deemed violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

But Belliveau was never in favour of the change and, in fact, broke party ranks to vote against the bill. Not only was he concerned about what it would mean for the protected districts, he was also unhappy it was splitting his own district of the day — Shelburne — merging one half with neighbouring Queens County and the other half with the Barrington area.

"I have not thought that Nova Scotians have been treated fairly from Day 1 on this," said Belliveau.

Belliveau said a boundaries review committee would obviously protect the Acadian districts, but the review would extend beyond that.

"There's other people on the other side of those boundaries and they have to be looked at and consulted with."

Liberals not tipping hand

He noted P.E.I. is going through a similar exercise right now and, even if it took a year, there is ample time remaining in the McNeil government's mandate to do the work.

Acadian Affairs Minister Michel Samson, who speaks on the issue for the government, has rejected calls to discuss the government's position, saying it would be revealed after private meetings with the Acadian federation are complete and an agreement is reached.

A representative for the federation is currently touring the province to firm up their position and should have more information by the end of the month.