By Greg Bennett
The Coast Guard
A bill that will split Shelburne County’s provincial political boundaries has passed the third and final reading in the legislature by a 26-22 vote.
In the final vote Shelburne MLA Sterling Belliveau kept his promise and joined the opposition members in saying nay. He was the only NDP member to vote against the bill.
There was a lot of at times heated talk on Thursday as the bill was debated by the legislature for the final time.
Some opposition members suggested that the Shelburne MLA should have done more than vote against his party …that he should have left government or stepped down from cabinet in protest.
Others, including PC leader Jamie Baillee said he felt sorry for the position that Belliveau had been put in.
Reading from a prepared statement, Belliveau blamed the electoral boundaries commission for the elimination of the Shelburne riding. He spoke about the improvements the government had made for the area
The bill will eliminate four protected ridings in Nova Scotia and will split the provincial political boundaries of Shelburne County in two at the Clyde River.
Barrington and the rest of the western part of the county will be added to the formerly protected Acadian riding of Argyle while the rest of Shelburne County east of the Clyde will amalgamate with Queens County to form a new Queens-Shelburne constituency.
During his speech at before the vote, Belliveau repeated that he felt the county had been blindsided by the Boundaries Commission recommendation.
Earlier this month, in a historic move, the law amendments committee held meetings in Shelburne County to allow local people an opportunity to have input on the bill.
Despite that, opposition parties called the vote on the bill a shameful and dark day for democracy
The Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia has already gone on record saying that it will launch a court challenge if the three so-called protected Acadian ridings are changed from the status quo.
FANE members were on hand as the legislature debated the issue on Thursday afternoon.
More will be added to this story later