Mi’kmaw MP says legal challenges likely over commission boundary changes

Liberal MP Jaime Battiste (Sydney-Victoria) says he is disappointed with the Nova Scotia Boundaries Commission’s latest decision but the fight isn’t over just quite yet.

“All the different ways they could have redrew this map,” the Sydney-Victoria MP said. “Why did they decide to take the largest Mi’kmaq community out of the riding? That one that the current MP sits at?

“I mean it was not a surprise to me that they were defensive about it but it is very much shocking in the face of the current practices of electoral boundaries in Ontario, in British Columbia that not only talk about UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People) but talk about Indigenous representation as an important thing.”

The Mi’kmaw MP is against the boundaries commission’s recommendation of taking the First Nations of Eskasoni and Wagmatcook out of his riding and placing them in a different constituency because he says they were not properly consulted.

According to the Elections Canada website, the constitution requires a review of federal districts every ten years “to reflect changes and movements in Canada’s population.”

Each province has a boundary commission that completes the review. The chief justice of each province appoints a judge to head it up. Each commission has two members that are appointed by the speaker of the House of Commons.

In Nova Scotia, Justice Cindy Bourgeois heads the commission while Louise Carbert, an associate professor of political science at Dalhousie University and David Johnson, a professor of political science at Cape Breton University are the members.

The current process began in October 2021.

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‘Total shock’: Mikmaw MP Jaime Battiste fighting boundary changes in his riding

Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny agrees and so did the Procedure and House Affairs Committee when he raised his objections there earlier this year.

But the commission is sticking to its original recommendations in its newly submitted final report to Parliament and Battiste said he expects legal challenges from the First Nations are on the way.

“Right now, I think it’s up to the communities to look at and say, ‘Are we going to take this to judicial review?’ I have said I think they have a really good chance based on the Raiche case of New Brunswick 20 years ago. And I think that is what they are going to do next because they feel that the days where non-Indigenous commissioners making decisions on behalf of Indigenous communities without consulting them are over in Canada and I agree with them.”

APTN News reached out to the Eskasoni First Nation, which is the largest Mi’kmaq community in Nova Scotia, for comment and a spokesperson said a statement on the issue will be released on Monday.

With files from Angel Moore 

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