POLITICS

Nova Scotia minister defends tweaking electoral map despite residents' concerns

08/16/2012 02:09 EDT | Updated 10/16/2012 05:12 EDT
HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's justice minister is defending making changes to the province's electoral map, saying tweaks are necessary to keep the system fair despite opposition from some residents.

Ross Landry said Thursday he's aware people are adverse to change, but chalked the backlash up to "democracy being alive and well" in the province.

"It's very important that we look at our demographic structure in Nova Scotia, where we're going as a province and how we get fairness and equity into the system," he said.

"One way is for this independent (electoral boundaries) commission to go out and hear Nova Scotians and formulate new boundaries."

Nova Scotia is required by law to review its electoral boundaries every 10 years.

Residents in some areas of Nova Scotia — namely Yarmouth and in Cape Breton — have expressed their concern in recent days to the proposed redrawing of the electoral map.

Much of the opposition has centred around the proposed elimination of some ridings.

The electoral boundaries commission is expected to deliver its final report Aug. 31, a deadline the vice-chairman of the commission said on Tuesday was unlikely to be met.

Colin Dodds told more than 30 residents at a public meeting in Bridgewater that completing the report on time looked "increasingly remote."

He made the comments after Bridgewater Coun. David Mitchell said he was worried the commission didn't have time to properly address issues raised in recent days.

Landry said Thursday he has not received a request to extend the deadline.

The provincial government rejected the commission's interim report in June, saying it failed to meet the legislature's terms of reference by retaining four designated minority ridings.