There are no visible minorities in the Liberal Caucus. There are no women in the Tory Caucus.* And while the NDP has made strides in both these areas, all three parties have more to do to ensure their political movements are more inclusive.
Want to increase minority representation in the legislature? Nominate minorities to run for your party. Do not just run Acadians in Clare and Argyle – the opposition could run an Acadian from Pomquet in the Antigonish seat. Especially if they believe only Acadian MLAs can protect linguistic rights.
The new boundaries drawn by the Electoral Boundary Commission does not eliminate so-called “minority seats” – just ensure they are within the allowed variance. But we encourage parties look beyond those new borders.
The political parties should not just look for minority candidates to run in Halifax-Dartmouth as they search for a more diverse group of MLAs. While continuing with their candidate searches, why not have a religious minority run for the NDP in Cape Breton, a recent immigrant run for the Conservatives in Pictou, or a woman run for the Liberals somewhere (anywhere) in South West Nova?
On the equation of “one vote = one vote”, some people have asked, “why have any variance at all?” We would note that while parity is the most important factor, allowing for a 25% variance fits within the Canadian court system which has ruled that you need to allow for effective as well as equal representation.
In 1991, Justice McLachlin, writing for the Supreme Court of Canada, explained the concept of variance.
The purpose of the right to vote enshrined in s.3 of the Charter is not equality of voting power per se, but the right to ‘effective representation’… And the primary condition of effective representation is relative parity of voting power, modified where necessary by factors like geography, community history, community interests and minority representation.
So Nova Scotia’s Electoral Boundary Commission final report ensures people’s votes are treated equally but also fairly. The physical size of a riding, whether it is a community of interest, and projections of population growth were considered in creating variances of up to but not exceeding 25% for the constituencies.
* The Tories did elect a woman the last election, but she crossed the floor. Liberal MLA Zach Churchill has a mother who is of Lebanese descent and asked us if that makes him a visible minority. We have no opinion on that, but it brings up an interesting question. When will Nova Scotians have a diverse legislature and not even notice?