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St. Mary’s council supports Fraser’s criticism of federal boundary changes

  • February 1 2023
  • By Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter    

ST. MARY’S – Council for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s is endorsing Central Nova MP Sean Fraser’s criticism of proposed federal boundary changes that would extend his largely rural constituency into suburban Halifax.

“Sean’s office is reaching out [to us for] for a letter of support [as] he’s not overly happy with the changes that are coming,” Warden Greg Wier told his municipal colleagues at a special meeting of council on Jan. 25, adding: “I, personally, don’t think it’s a great idea to be mixed in with big places, because little places get lost when big places get involved.”

The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Nova Scotia report, tabled in the House of Commons last fall, recommends that Central Nova — which incorporates St. Mary’s, the Municipality of the District of Guysborough, along with the Town of Antigonish and the Municipality of the County of Antigonish, become Pictou-Eastern Shore and include some Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) communities. It also proposes that the Antigonish jurisdictions be transferred to the newly redrawn Cape Breton-Canso-Antigonish riding (formerly Cape Breton-Canso).

In an interview with The Journal in November, Fraser expressed his reservations about the scheme. “I am disappointed with the decision … to remove Antigonish from the Central Nova riding and to extend the other side of the riding as far as Cole Harbour … into suburban HRM.” he said. “It is not a reasonable decision from my perspective … [It’s] common sense that ridings should include communities with common interest and common histories.”

Regarding the public consultation process, he added: “I feel as though the feedback that they [the Commission] received was not properly taken into account and the adjustments that most people would have expected that would have attended the hearing in Antigonish were simply not made.”

According to a news release from the commission last April, the proposed redistribution of federal electoral districts in Nova Scotia takes into account changes in the province’s population — particularly a big jump in the number of people living in metropolitan Halifax and demographic declines in Cape Breton and the eastern mainland. “The main aim is to divide the province into 11 electoral districts that are as close to the electoral quota… of 88,126 people per district … as reasonably as possible,” it stated.

At council last week, Wier said, “We need to make the motion that we support Sean in his efforts to try to keep the electoral boundaries the way they are … that we do not accept the changes as presented.”

Declared Deputy Warden James Fuller, representing Goshen & Area (District 6): “I will absolutely move that.”

Added Beulah Malloy, representing Indian Harbor Lake & Sonora Area (District 4): “And, I will definitely second that.”

All council members agreed to sign the letter of support.