The Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for Nova Scotia hosted it’s public hearing in Antigonish at the Microtel Inn and Suites Tuesday night.
The commission came to town to hear from residents on the proposed federal electoral
boundary changes released earlier. The proposed changes would see portions of Antigonish town and county currently in Central Nova become part of a new riding with Cape Breton and parts of Guysborough county, called Cape Breton-Antigonish. Central Nova, to be renamed Pictou-Eastern Shore-Preston would retain Pictou County and the District of St. Mary’s and will push further west to include more portions of Halifax County.
During the session, the commission heard from 12 speakers, the majority of whom suggested keeping Pictou and Antigonish connected, with some suggesting a riding with Pictou and Antigonish, with others also suggesting the inclusion of Port Hawkesbury or Guysborough or both.
Commission chair Justice Cindy Bourgeois said once all of the public hearings wrap up and the commission receives all of the written submissions, the deadline for which is now June 18, she said they will begin meeting and going over the feedback they received. They will then decide whether or not to move forward with the current proposal or to make changes.
Following public hearing, Central Nova MP Sean Fraser said the message he heard from constituents was pretty clear.
Speaking about what he heard, Fraser said the people who took the time to speak have an interest in keeping the community connected to itself and distinct from Cape Breton in terms of the breakdown of electoral districts. He also noted the challenges when it comes to trying to cover ground from Arisaig to Glace Bay.
Fraser said he was encouraged by the number of people who attended the meeting, noting democracy doesn’t work if people sit on the sidelines.
Bourgeois said the timeline the commission set for itself is they would like to have a formal report finished by the end of the summer. The report will then go to parliament, and MPs will have the chance to comment and offer feedback. Once that is considered, they will offer their final version of the report, which she said they are hoping to have done by the end of the year.