Commission's Report – Nova Scotia

Conclusions

Overview

Following the completion of the public hearing process and receipt of written submissions, the Commission reviewed in detail all of the materials and submissions gathered during the process. Public concerns focused primarily on the factor of “community of interest” and how to balance that with “relative parity of voting power”, or as the Supreme Court of Canada put it, “effective representation”. It should be pointed out that the Commission did not set out with any preconceived notion regarding a target percentage of variation from the electoral quota. Although citizen concerns were not received from all parts of the Province, the Commission proceeded on the assumption that all matters were on the table. Thus, the Commission reviewed all of its previous recommendations in preparing this Report.

A further task of the Commission was the naming or renaming of two electoral districts. This Commission, as had the previous commission, sought to retain the current riding names wherever appropriate. The Commission also decided to drop the apostrophe (’) in any riding or place names in order to be consistent with present standards.

In the following pages, the Commission explains its finalized Report for each of Nova Scotia’s 11 federal electoral districts, noting any changes by comparison to its Proposal dated June 7, 2012, as well as indicating any changes in riding names. The population data for each proposed riding, the deviations from the quota, as well as the names of the ridings are presented in the following table.


Summary Table of Riding Information
Electoral District Name 2011
Quota
2011
Population
Deviation
Cape Breton—Canso 83,793 75,247 –10.20%
Central Nova 83,793 74,597 –10.97%
Cumberland—Colchester 83,793 82,321 –1.76%
Dartmouth—Cole Harbour 83,793 91,212 +8.85%
Halifax 83,793 92,643 +10.56%
Halifax West 83,793 87,275 +4.16%
Kings—Hants 83,793 83,306 –0.58%
Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook 83,793 85,583 +2.14%
South Shore—St. Margarets 83,793 92,561 +10.46%
Sydney—Victoria 83,793 73,328 –12.49%
West Nova 83,793 83,654 –0.17%
Total   921,727  

The New Boundaries

The Commission will explain below the various changes made to the existing electoral districts. First, the Commission wishes to indicate that three ridings will retain their present boundaries (notwithstanding changes outlined in the Proposal): these are the ridings of West Nova, Kings—Hants and Sydney—Victoria. The legal descriptions of all the electoral districts can be found in the Schedule to this Report; the maps follow in the last section.

Halifax West

The 2011 Census indicates that the four electoral districts within the HRM had increased in population by approximately 30,000, whereas the rest of the Province had diminished in population by approximately 16,000. Therefore, it was apparent to the Commission that adjustments would have to be made in and around the HRM. Halifax West had seen the greatest population increase (almost 20,000). In an effort to decrease the population of Halifax West, the Commission, in its Proposal, sought to alter the northern boundary of that riding. In order to achieve this, the Commission had proposed altering the common boundary with the present riding of Sackville—Eastern Shore. However, it became clear that this proposal divided the community of Bedford, and the Commission has now essentially reverted to the existing boundary between those two ridings.

Therefore, the only feasible way to reduce the population of Halifax West is to substantially alter its southeastern boundary. This means placing more of the Prospect and Tantallon areas into the riding of South Shore—St. Margarets. The Commission has decided that the most appropriate and least divisive boundary between these two ridings is Highway 103. The Commission acknowledges that this has caused some concern for residents in the area of Exit 5; however, the Commission feels that this boundary is the least disruptive to the communities of Hammonds Plains and Tantallon, and the most reasonable way to adjust the population of Halifax West.

Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook

The main reason for initially adjusting the boundaries of Sackville—Eastern Shore was the need to adjust the western boundary of Cape Breton—Canso in order to bring the latter’s population to a reasonable deviation from the electoral quota. This had the “domino” effect of requiring changes to the boundaries of Central Nova to take in more of the Eastern Shore and the Musquodoboit Valley. These changes will be discussed more fully later in this Report.

The Commission’s Proposal incorporated parts of the Sackville and Beaver Bank areas into Kings—Hants and parts of North Dartmouth into the present riding of Sackville—Eastern Shore. Public concern was expressed regarding the divisions of the communities of the Sackville area and those of the former city of Dartmouth. The Commission agrees with those concerns and, in this Report, essentially reverts to the present boundaries between Sackville—Eastern Shore and Kings—Hants, and between Sackville—Eastern Shore and the northern boundary of Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.

In order to maintain reasonable deviations from the electoral quota for both the new riding of Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook and for Central Nova, the Commission is of the opinion that it is necessary to reduce the extent of the Eastern Shore contained in the present riding of Sackville—Eastern Shore. The Commission is of the view that redrawing the boundary line between these two ridings to include all of the Chezzetcook communities in the revised Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook riding is necessary and is the most appropriate way to comply with and achieve the objectives of the Act.

The Commission is of the view that a new name would more appropriately describe the geographic area and extent of this riding, and it recommends the new name “Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook”.

Dartmouth—Cole Harbour

The Commission had initially proposed significant changes to the northern boundary of this riding and minor changes to its southern boundary. This would have divided the community of the former city of Dartmouth, and the Commission agrees with the concerns expressed by the riding’s citizens and by its member of Parliament. The Commission has therefore reverted to the former northern boundary of this riding, with a minor change to accommodate a number of voters who had difficulty accessing polling stations and who are properly part of the Dartmouth community. The southern boundary has been extended slightly to include Canadian Forces Base Shearwater on its eastern boundary. The communities of Eastern Passage, Hartlen Point and McNabs Island will remain in Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook.

Halifax

The riding of Halifax has been altered slightly on its western boundary in the Prospect Road area to accommodate voters who had difficulty accessing polling stations and to include all of Long Lake Provincial Park within its boundaries.

South Shore—St. Margarets

Subsequent to the Proposal, the riding of South Shore—St. Margarets has been extended on its eastern boundary to incorporate the additional territory removed from Halifax West. The Commission recognizes that this further expands the geographic size of that constituency. The Commission had initially proposed to compensate for that expanded size by moving the Municipality of the District of Barrington into West Nova. However, the citizens of Barrington made it very clear at the public hearing in Yarmouth and in written submissions that they did not want to be separated from Shelburne County and that they wished to remain in South Shore—St. Margarets. The members of Parliament who were present at that hearing, Mr. Gerald Keddy and Mr. Greg Kerr, both agreed that the citizens’ concerns should be respected. Mr. Keddy accepted that he could continue to represent the riding with its expanded geographic size. There was no compelling reason to prefer one boundary over the other. In the end, citizens’ stated preferences were taken to be the deciding factor. The Commission agreed to leave the Municipality of the District of Barrington in South Shore—St. Margarets.

Cape Breton—Canso

Cape Breton—Canso was the riding with the greatest deviation (in excess of 18 percent below the electoral quota) prior to redistribution. It was apparent to the Commission that an adjustment would have to be made to that riding. It was not possible to adjust Cape Breton—Canso by making changes to the adjacent Sydney—Victoria riding because the latter was also already significantly below the electoral quota. Therefore, the only adjustment that could be made was with Central Nova, which itself was already approximately 14 percent below the quota. The Commission received submissions from a few concerned citizens and municipal officials of Antigonish County regarding the proposal to shift parts of that county into Cape Breton—Canso, which would divide the county between two federal electoral districts.

However, the Commission could not see any workable alternative besides adjusting its Proposal so that Antigonish County would be divided in the least disruptive manner and a portion added to Cape Breton—Canso. In the Commission’s opinion, it was not feasible to add all of Antigonish County (some 19,589 people) to Cape Breton—Canso and remove it from Central Nova, which, as previously stated, was already significantly below the electoral quota.

The Commission has therefore decided to add that portion of Antigonish County which lies to the east of the South River to the riding of Cape Breton—Canso. This portion of the county is identical to Subdivision B in terms of the national census. As a result of this overlap, detailed and specific statistical information will become available for planning purposes. Moreover, this redistribution has the effect of grouping all Acadian regions of northeastern Nova Scotia in the same federal electoral district. Also, historically, all or parts of Antigonish County had or have been, at one time or another, part of a Cape Breton riding. While it may be desirable to avoid dividing counties between federal ridings where feasible, it should be noted that this has historically occurred in numerous counties, for example, in the Annapolis Valley, in Cape Breton and to a large degree in Halifax County.

Central Nova

There is no question that Central Nova is significantly affected by the unavoidable “domino” effect of necessary changes to adjoining ridings. In order to maintain a reasonable variation from the electoral quota, it is now necessary to add the Musquodoboit Valley and a small portion of the Eastern Shore to Central Nova to compensate for the removal of approximately one half of Antigonish County. This will still leave Central Nova at approximately 11 percent below the quota. In arriving at the division along the Eastern Shore, the Commission attempted to minimize the disruption or division of communities. For this reason, the Commission revised its original Proposal in order to maintain the Chezzetcook communities in one riding.

Cumberland—Colchester

In order to provide additional population to Central Nova, the Commission removed the Musquodoboit Valley from the present Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley at the Proposal stage and restored the historical riding of Cumberland—Colchester. This new riding encompasses the entirety of these two counties and is very close to the electoral quota. No other changes have been made.





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