Official Opposition Leader Dwight Ball and his Justice critic. Andrew Parsons, held a news conference yesterday to lay-out the party's position and clear-up any confusion. The Liberals are adamant that they will not support the initiative unless their minimum three conditions, being put forward in the form of amendments, are accepted.
It is reassuring to see the Official Opposition lay its cards on the table. It is a strategic approach meant to cut the Premier off at the pass before the idea of a postponing the 2015 election to 2016 takes root.
Specifically the Liberals are saying:
1. The Boundary Commission legislation must be amended to state if the Commission’s work is not completed in 120 days, then the existing electoral boundaries will apply for the 2015 General Election. The Liberals will not support, endorse or entertain postponing the general election to 2016.Premier Davis says he wants to hold the general election in November but if there are delays, the election might get moved into the spring of 2016. Seems logical that if you support a move in the fixed dates, than the extend of the move is up for grabs.
2. The Boundary Commission must not have the number of districts prescribed. The proposal by Government would predetermine a reduction in electoral districts from 48 to 38. The Official Opposition is calling for the Boundary Commission to be given a range from 38 districts to 42 districts in order to complete their work effectively. Dwight Ball is officially on the record calling for the House of Assembly be reduced to 40 seats. His rationale for that number has never been explained. The interesting thing is that the Liberals are not taking the position that 38 is too few a number of seats, despite the fact that it will mean less representation for rural areas and noticeably larger districts.
3. There are currently four seats for Labrador. Given the large geography and uniqueness of Labrador, these four seats must be protected. This is low hanging fruit. The Premier has not said his legislation will hold the line on Labrador's current four seats. The big land has a total population of 26,000 people but an expansive geography with the population scattered along the coast line, in Central Labrador and on the Western border with Quebec. Former Liberal Leader and current Labrador Member of Parliament, Yvonne Jones was quick of the mark on Thursday night declaring that Labrador should not be touched. No matter what the Conservatives propose, the Liberals will have made an impression in Labrador.
The Liberals sy they are looking at all of the options open to them through the rules and procedures of the House of Assembly, if the amendments are not accepted. The NDP has already said the intend to filibusterer debate.
Bill 42, An Act to Ammend the Electoral Boundaries Act will be introduced for first reading this afternoon.