10/26/2012 01:18 EDT | Updated 12/26/2012 05:12 EST

Tory accuses Nova Scotia government of breaking law in voting boundaries dispute

HALIFAX - A Progressive Conservative member is accusing the Nova Scotia government of violating provincial law by interfering with the work of the province's independent Electoral Boundaries Commission.

Chris d'Entremont says a letter to the commission written in June by Justice Minister Ross Landry violated the privilege of members because he gave specific directions — something d'Entremont says only the legislature can do.

In the letter, Landry said the government would not accept the commission's interim recommendations because they failed to deal with the fact that four so-called minority ridings had unacceptably small voter populations.

D'Entremont says the process of redrawing the province's electoral boundaries has been tainted and should be thrown out. The Tory critic has submitted a written request to the Speaker demanding a ruling on the propriety of Landry's letter.

"The law of the province and the enabling resolutions of this house and a select committee of this house were violated by the letter issuing directions to the independent commission," d'Entremont say in his letter.

"Because the minister chose not to follow the rules and bypassed the house, my privilege and that of all members was breached."

A spokeswoman for the party said the law d'Entremont is referring to is the House of Assembly Act — specifically the section that calls for the appointment of an independent electoral boundaries commission.

Landry has said he was acting on advice from the legislature's chief counsel and concluded that the commission did not follow its legally binding terms of reference when he refused to accept its interim recommendations.