By Greg Bennett
The Coast Guard
The clear response was “no” as hundreds of people from across the South Shore protested against a recommendation to split Shelburne County’s provincial electoral boundaries on Monday night.
The meeting, held at the Barrington Municipal High School, featured dozens of speakers from across the region who spoke out against the recommendations of the Electoral Boundaries Commission to split the Shelburne Constituency at the Clyde River.
Newly elected Shelburne Town Councillor Roy O’Donnell called the report “flawed” “unacceptable” and bordering on “unlawful.”
“This is no longer a political issue,” he said. “This issue transcends party lines. It has compelled lifelong political rivals to lay down their arms and work shoulder to shoulder to save our constituency and protect the identity of Shelburne County.”
The leaders of both opposition parties, Jamie Baillie for the PCs and Stephen MacNeil for the Liberals sat at a head table with Shelburne MLA Sterling Belliveau. All voiced strong opinions against the recommendation and vowed to vote against it.
Despite his stand against the recommendation, the question of whether Belliveau would vote against his party on the issue wasn’t answered clearly enough for some.
Eddie Nickerson was among those who challenged the MLA to take a stand against his party.
“If you want to be remembered for doing something great for the right reasons stop the political boundary change in Shelburne County,” said Nickerson
Many of the speakers, including Belliveau, noted that residents of the county were not given an opportunity to speak to the boundary commission.
Efforts, headed by local resident Josh Brown are being made to secure buses to bring people to Halifax for future law amendments hearings on the issue. Political representatives at the meeting committed hundreds of dollars towards funding buses. Belliveau offered $300 from his own pocket towards the effort.
Despite that, PC Leader Baillie said residents should demand that the law amendments hearings be held in Shelburne County.
Several Yarmouth County representatives also took to the microphone to speak against the boundary recommendations.
“This is an attack on rural Nova Scotia …period,” said John Cunningham, a Yarmouth Municipal Councillor.