It was a polite two hours of impassioned arguments as 13 voices pleaded with the provincial Law Amendments Committee to leave Shelburne County’s political boundaries intact on Thursday night.
There were even cookies.
The committee was at the Sandy Point Community Centre for the first session of hearings on a bill that would redraw the county’s political boundaries.
This is the first time in memory that the committee has ventured outside of Halifax for hearings.
Before speaker Sherri Harris sat down at the microphone, to the delight of audience members, she handed out cookies to committee members with the message “no boundary change.”
Feigning suspicion, committee chair Ross Landry asked if they were okay to eat.
It was a light moment amongst a lot of serious talk about the impact proposed boundary changes could have on the area.
The committee heard historical, ethical and practical reasons against the changes.
Recently elected Town of Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall called the process “flawed” and asked the committee to scrap the Electoral Boundary Committee’s report completely and start again fresh.
If unchanged, the bill would split the provincial constituency of Shelburne in two along the Clyde River, with Argyle and Barrington combining to form a new riding. The eastern half of Shelburne County would join with Queens.
Angus Goreham, of Woods Harbour, noted that with a stroke of pen the province would split a family that has been together for many decades.
Rev. Wayne Dooks spoke about the many links that could be severed if a political boundary split was made.
“We are not divided but have many bridges and to dismantle even the political bridge is to cut into the fluidity of all of these elements which bridge our culture,” he said.
There were a few speakers who offered alternatives.
Former Shelburne Municipal Warden Sherm Embree asked the committee to consider joining the Acadian ridings of Clare and Argyle to reach the required electors within each constituency.
A part-time resident, Alan Hayman made a well-plotted out argument that would see almost the entire county of Shelburne, except for the Sable River area, amalgamated with the Argyle Constituency. Despite having reams of statistics and supporting material, Hayman’s argument was not well-received by the audience or at the committee table.
After listening to the more than dozen submissions, the floor was opened to others to talk in front of the committee but there were no takers.
The Law Amendments Committee will start the process again Friday morning at 9 a.m. at the Sandy Point hall with a full slate of 32 submissions set.
Some of those speakers set to talk include municipal and town councillors as well as business and political representatives from across Shelburne County.
Representatives from Clare and Argyle are also scheduled to speak on Friday.