06/19/2012 02:59 EDT | Updated 08/19/2012 05:12 EDT

Opposition accuses NDP of directing the redrawing of electoral boundaries

HALIFAX - Nova Scotia's opposition parties are accusing the NDP government of directing the redrawing of the province's electoral boundaries.

Both the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties alleged that the independence of the commission tasked with redrawing the new electoral boundaries has been breached.

Last week, Attorney General Ross Landry wrote a letter to the commission asking it to revise its interim report that recommended continued protection for minority constituencies in the province.

He said the report did not comply with the legislature's terms of reference that requires constituencies be within 25 per cent of the average number of electors.

But Liberal member Andrew Younger said the public is entitled to see the legal advice behind Landry's letter.

"It's really unfair... to write a letter to the commission and demand that they change their interim report if they haven't been provided a copy of that legal opinion," said Younger on Tuesday.

Younger said he's concerned with the NDP's involvement in the distribution of the boundaries.

"The reason we have an independent commission to do this is so it takes politics out of it," he said.

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said the commission should be provided funding to attain its own legal advice on whether it is meeting the terms of reference.

He said the government is "directing the work of a commission that is supposed to be independent."

Landry rejected both party's comments, saying the commission was asked to revise its interim report because it did not follow the terms of reference, which are legally binding.

"I haven't directed them to do anything," Landry said.

"This isn't about lawyers going out and fighting and saying what's right or wrong. This is about the legislature making a decision and the rest of us living by it, not setting the rules and changing it because we don't like it one way or another."

On Monday, the boundary commission unanimously decided to revise its interim report to adhere to the terms of reference.

The protected ridings include Clare and Argyle, communities with large francophone populations on the South Shore; and Richmond, a riding in Cape Breton with a minority Acadian population. The riding of Preston, which has a large number of black constituents, is located on the eastern outskirts of Halifax.

The commission said in a statement this week that it would remain sensitive to the geography, community history and interests of the Acadian and black communities in their revisions.

The final report is due Aug. 31.