It seems like a straightforward directive, but the opposition’s criticism of the way the NDP have dealt with the Electoral Boundaries Commission is well-founded.
Bot the Liberals and the Conservatives have accused the government of interference with an independent commission in the way it has asked the body to revise its interim report on electoral boundaries.
Although the concerns from the government about the flawed aspects of the report have been well publicized, any followup communication should also be public knowledge.
Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said the commission should be provided funding to obtain its own legal advice on whether it is meeting the terms of reference in redrawing of boundaries.
The bone of contention was that the interim report let stand four ridings that didn’t fall within the rule requiring constituencies be within 25 per cent of the average number of electors. Their boundaries had been set that way to reflect the cultural makeup in those areas.
Challenging that kind of artificial approach is one thing. But it’s not hard to see the point of opposition critics. When a government gets involved, some might suspect possible influence to draw boundaries in such a way as to take advantage of pockets of strong government support.
Baillie accused the government of “directing the work of a commission that is supposed to be independent.”
Attorney General Ross Landry responded that he had done no such thing in writing the letter asking the commission to redraft the report and to abide by terms of reference regarding voter numbers.
Landry said it’s a simple matter of seeing that the guidelines are followed. And the commission members have said they are prepared to do just that.
But the matter, the communications, any legal advice should be laid out clearly to the public. Perception plays a large part in political dealings. Any chance of something being perceived as underhanded has to be eliminated.