Federal electoral districts redistribution 2022

Public Feedback and Consultation

As noted above, the Commission's Proposal was published in the Canada Gazette and is available on the Commission's website. In addition, notice of the Proposal and the schedule of public hearings were given as required in the Act.

Written submissions

Immediately following the publication of the Proposal, the Commission began to receive a significant volume of telephone and email enquiries. Many individuals who reached out to the Commission were of the belief that the notice published in provincial newspapers was in fact the complete Proposal. As such, the Commission received complaints regarding the visual clarity of the new boundaries being proposed and the lack of justification for the alterations. The Commission regularly redirected such enquiries to its website where the Proposal, including maps of the existing and proposed boundaries, could be easily accessed. It is clear from the written submissions received that many submitters did take the opportunity to review the Proposal, although it was also evident that many did not.

The Commission received in excess of 1,000 submissions in various forms. Submissions ranged from short emails to detailed written submissions with maps showing alternate boundaries. One community-based campaign resulted in hundreds of postcards being sent to the Commission expressing opposition to a particular boundary change being proposed. All submissions were reviewed and considered by the Commission. Despite the volume, the Commission Secretary made every effort to acknowledge receipt of the submissions received.

Public hearings

Nine public hearings were held throughout the province. To encourage and facilitate public involvement, the Commission scheduled the hearings during evening hours. For the first time, the Commission also scheduled a hearing in virtual format, again to enhance the opportunity for public engagement. The Commission required those wishing to present at a hearing to give notice of their wish to do so, as well as to advise of any accommodations that would be required. To ensure the venues could accommodate all who wished to attend, the Commission also requested those wishing to observe the public hearings to also give notice in advance of their anticipated attendance.

Notwithstanding many individuals attending hearings who had not provided notice of their intent to do so, the Commission was able to accommodate all present in terms of both seating and being given an opportunity to express their views.

The schedule of hearings was as follows:
Location Date of hearing Presenters
Sydney May 30, 2022 6
Antigonish May 31, 2022 13
Truro June 1, 2022 16
Kentville June 6, 2022 9
Yarmouth June 7, 2022 5
Bridgewater June 8, 2022 11
Cole Harbour June 13, 2022 18
Lower Sackville June 14, 2022 13
Virtual hearing June 27, 2022 13

The Commission was pleased to hear three of the above presentations in French.


A number of themes emerged from the feedback received. Some were general in nature, while others were more specific. Much of this feedback is reflected directly or indirectly in the Commission's final conclusions, and, as such, it will be helpful to outline the more dominant themes expressed to us.

With respect to more general observations, the Commission noted in particular:

  • People do not like change. Repeatedly the sentiment "if it is not broken, don't fix it!" was communicated in the feedback. It was repeatedly asserted that change to existing boundaries should only occur where it is necessary.
  • There is a strong sense of history throughout the province. There is a clear desire, especially in rural areas to have particular counties remain together in the same electoral districts, "as they have since Confederation."
  • Many submissions suggested the Commission had placed undue weight on attempting to minimize the variance between the electoral districts to the detriment of other factors such as community of interest, language and geographical considerations. This was perceived to result in unnecessary or ill-informed changes being proposed based solely on "a numbers game."
  • The Commission was encouraged to keep in mind that "effective representation" may require different considerations in different areas of the province and that it does not mandate similar populations across all 11 electoral districts. For example, rural ridings are typically large in geographic size, causing challenges with effectively representing their residents (such as dispersed communities and uncertain Internet access). It was submitted that this provides justification for lower populations being viewed as acceptable where it is more difficult for a member of Parliament to effectively represent their constituents.
  • The four urban electoral districts within the Halifax region continue to experience substantial growth in population. This is demonstrated by the four ridings being consistently above the electoral quota and the pattern of their boundaries being pushed into semi-rural areas in an attempt to lower the variance in comparison with other ridings in the province. Based on the existing population and the growth that will continue, it was suggested that a fifth riding should be shifted to the urban Halifax area.

Many of the written submissions and representations offered at the public hearings focused on changes being proposed in relation to particular electoral districts. This included the following views:

  • Cape Breton should be divided into two electoral districts, one urban, reflecting "industrial" Cape Breton, and the other, more rural, not as proposed by the Commission.
  • Cape Breton should constitute one riding not the present two. This would eliminate the encroachment of the second proposed riding (Cape Breton—Antigonish) into the mainland.
  • The Commission erred when it removed Antigonish County from what is now the current Central Nova riding, joining it with a large portion of Cape Breton. Its shared community of interest with Pictou County required a continuation of the two neighbouring counties being represented by the same member of Parliament.
  • Conversely, the Commission was also advised that Antigonish County shared a strong community of interest with Cape Breton and received support for the boundaries remaining as established in the proposed Cape Breton—Antigonish riding.
  • In addition to the concern regarding the county of Antigonish being excluded from the newly proposed electoral district of Pictou—Eastern Shore—Preston, many questioned the inclusion of the communities of Preston, East Preston and North Preston in what is an otherwise predominantly rural constituency. Many suggested that the Prestons shared no commonality with the other communities in the proposed Pictou—Eastern Shore—Preston riding and belonged in an urban constituency.
  • The Commission's inclusion of Enfield, Elmsdale, Lantz and a portion of Milford into Pictou—Eastern Shore—Preston attracted significant criticism. Historically, these areas have been part of the Kings—Hants riding. Feedback in both written form and at public hearings demonstrated the consistent view that the Commission's proposal had failed to recognize the importance (politically, socially, and economically) of keeping "the Corridor" area of the Municipality of East Hants intact and part of the Kings—Hants electoral district.
  • The Commission proposed to remove Shelburne County from the existing South Shore—St. Margarets electoral district and to add it to the newly constituted Acadian Shore—Shelburne riding. Significant opposition to this change was received, most arguing that Shelburne shared a stronger community of interest and historical ties with the "South Shore" in comparison with Yarmouth, the surrounding Acadian communities and communities in the Annapolis Valley. Further, the Commission was warned the proposed change may have a negative impact on Acadian communities, in particular, in terms of ensuring effective representation and protection of this linguistic minority.
  • It was not only what the Commission had proposed to remove from South Shore—St. Margarets that garnered strong feedback. Given the growth in Halifax, the Commission proposed adding the southern coastal areas of that riding to South Shore—St. Margarets. Specifically, the communities on the lower part of the "Sambro Loop" (Herring Cove, Portuguese Cove, Sambro, Williamswood and Harrietsfield) were added to the newly redistributed South Shore—St. Margarets riding. The Commission heard, resoundingly, that the proposed redistribution served to arbitrarily divide the Sambro Loop area, placing residents of this community in two different electoral districts. Many presenters highlighted that the proposal served to isolate the southern area of the Sambro Loop. Although geographically contiguous with the remainder of the riding, constituents in the area would be required to drive through the Halifax riding to access the remainder of the South Shore—St. Margarets constituency.
  • The Commission's decision to add the Eastern Passage area into the Dartmouth—Cole Harbour was viewed positively. Under the boundaries established in 2012, Eastern Passage, Cow Bay and Rainbow Haven were included in the Sackville—Preston—Chezzetcook electoral district but were geographically separated from the remainder of that constituency. The Commission's proposed addition of the Eastern Passage area to the Dartmouth—Cole Harbour riding eliminated the area's geographical separation and coincided with the view the area is more closely associated with Dartmouth than the Eastern Shore.
  • It was evident residents of the Eastern Passage area were not the only ones who felt a close affiliation with the Dartmouth—Cole Harbour constituency. In its Proposal, the Commission had made significant changes to other boundaries of the riding. In particular, Wallace Heights, Port Wallace, Tam O'Shanter Ridge and the Burnside Industrial Park were removed from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour and included in the newly constituted riding of Shubenacadie—Bedford Basin. The Commission was advised there is a strong identity associated with the former City of Dartmouth, and dividing neighbourhoods, which historically fell within it, between two electoral districts was negatively received. Residents of these areas advised the Commission they do not view themselves as sharing a community of interest with residents of Bedford or Sackville and wished to remain part of the Dartmouth—Cole Harbour electoral district.