Professor: Nova Scotia court ruling not impediment to potential election call

A political scientist says there is little to prevent the Nova Scotia government from calling an election before it deals with electoral boundary questions raised by a recent court opinion.

Tom Urbaniak, of Cape Breton University, says the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ruling released in January isn't binding and it doesn't stipulate that an election can't be called or that three so-called protected Acadian districts have to be restored.

The court found that a previous boundary redrawing by the former NDP government violated the voter rights section of the Charter of Rights and both the Opposition Progressive Conservatives and NDP legislature member Sterling Belliveau have since said they are looking at legal options if there is no formal boundary review.

Urbaniak says it's unlikely the courts would issue any kind of an injunction against an election because the dissolution of the legislature is a prerogative of the lieutenant governor and courts have been historically reluctant to interfere.

Regardless, he says the government will likely have to deal with the issue beforehand in order to signal that it does take the question of minority representation seriously.

Urbaniak says that can be done relatively quickly if all parties agree to hold public consultations around an interim report produced by the 2012 electoral boundaries commission that was rejected by the previous NDP government.