POLITICS

N.L. Premier Paul Davis To Slash 10 Seats Before Fall Election

01/15/2015 01:54 EST | Updated 03/17/2015 05:59 EDT
CP
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Newfoundland and Labrador's premier wants to cut the size of the legislature by 10 members to 38 seats before an election scheduled for this year.

Paul Davis wants a panel selected by the government and the provincial chief justice to review whether the legislature should be made smaller.

The issue has come up repeatedly because politicians represent fewer constituents than other provinces except for P.E.I.

The electoral boundaries commission was set to do a 10-year mandated review in 2016.

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball says he also wants a smaller legislature but the boundary review should be respected, while the NDP's Lorraine Michael is promising to fight any attempt to rush through changes using a filibuster in the legislature.

Davis must call an election within 12 months of his swearing-in as premier last Sept. 26.

He says reducing the legislature would save about $2.5 million a year and would mean a fall election.

Ball says he's concerned that voters won't get a fair say in a rushed process.

"I fear that it would not be done right," says Ball, adding that the Progressive Conservative government had years to act and has instead waited until months before an election.

Ball says he needs to see details before deciding whether to support a quicker review that usually takes at least six months with extensive public consultations.

The Tories have a majority in the legislature.

Michael says the premier's move comes close to "gerrymandering."

"I think this is flying in the face of our democracy," says Michael.

The NDP leader says she is not against a smaller legislature, but Davis should have consulted with the opposition parties first or let the boundary commission do its work.

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