Nova Scotia Journal

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Mixed emotions as election boundary review loom for Cape Breton riding

Nova Scotia

Key takeaways: 

  • Boundary change would ‘push the center of gravity toward Antigonish, says a political science professor.
  • The proposed redistribution of federal electoral wards shows Cape Breton–Canso expands west to have Antigonish town and county and would be renamed Cape Breton–Antigonish.

Nova Scotia is getting a new federal electoral map — and public meetings are underway to get an intake on the proposed boundary modifications that will see Cape Breton–Canso riding extend west to have Antigonish town and county.

The Central Nova riding would stop existing, and the new riding would be called Cape Breton–Antigonish.

But Cape Breton University political science professor Tom Urbaniak told Information Morning Cape Breton the likely boundary changes might not sufficiently represent rural populations. 

“I believe that would shift the center of gravity of the current Cape Breton–Canso riding to infrastructure-rich Antigonish,” Urbaniak stated. “So it is a fundamental change.” 

Population gains in Metro Halifax — and drops in Cape Breton and the eastern mainland — have led to a ripple effect of boundary changes to guarantee votes in each riding carry the same weight. 

The commission wants to maintain a population of approximately 88,000 in each riding. 

“I’m very empathetic to the committee’s task,” said Urbaniak, stating that the proposed area is “geographically unmanageable.”

Read more: Man hospitalized after stabbing on Gottingen Street

Nova Scotia is getting a new federal electoral map — and public meetings are underway to get an intake on the proposed boundary modifications that will see Cape Breton–Canso riding extend west to have Antigonish town and county

“It’s a riding of various economies, languages, and cultural communities,” he stated. 

Always a challenge

Rodger Cuzner, an ex-Liberal MP for Cape Breton–Canso, says boundary changes are always contentious. “It’s always a challenge; there’s no doubt.”

“When I first got going, it was Bras d’Or–Cape Breton. 

Before that, it was Cape Breton–East Richmond,” Cuzner stated.

But he doesn’t think adding Antigonish County to the riding is wrong. 

“I think the folks are pretty much the same. You know, it’s regarding fishing and farming and family and fiddles,” he said. “We’re not that different.” 

Source – cbc.ca

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