HALIFAX, NS - The unprecedented appearance of Premier Darrell Dexter at Wednesday’s meeting of the Nova Scotia Electoral Boundaries Commission drew fire from Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie.
Dexter appeared at a public meeting in Dartmouth and defended the controversial terms of reference his government pushed through without all-party support.
"Darrell Dexter's NDP have brought old style politics back to drawing up boundaries in Nova Scotia, first by abusing their majority to ram through terms of reference for the Commission in secret, second by Premier Dexter directing the Commission to withdraw its original interim report and now by this swarming by the Premier and his ministers at public meetings," said Baillie. "Never before in the history of our independent boundaries commission have we seen a sitting Premier appear before it trying to arrange provincial seats to his own political advantage."
Dexter’s appearance followed Monday night's commission meeting in Halifax, where four cabinet ministers - Economic and Rural Development and Tourism Minister Percy Paris, Health and Wellness Minister David Wilson, Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Maurice Smith and Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse - all made presentations to the commission, primarily to suggest that NDP friendly polls be moved into NDP held constituencies.
"When members of the Executive Council try to influence the decisions of a body which must, by law, be independent, they undermine the Commission and they flout the law," continued Baillie.
While he recognizes that individual MLAs may feel compelled to bring forward local concerns to the Commission, Baillie said Premier Dexter has additional responsibilities to govern on behalf of all Nova Scotians, which should prevent him from interfering.
"Darrell Dexter is not just an MLA. He is the Premier and needs to act like one, instead of continuing to politicize a process that is supposed to be independent," said Baillie.
The Progressive Conservatives will strengthen the Ministerial Code of Conduct, passed into law in 2000, to clarify that this type of intervention by Ministers is not appropriate.
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