September 9th, 2020

NDP will introduce legislation requiring committees to meet

HALIFAX -- New Democrats will introduce legislation in the coming fall sitting of the legislature to prevent the Liberal government from using their majority to shut down Standing Committees. Almost all legislative committees, including Public Accounts and Health, which are normally scheduled to meet over the summer months, were shut down from March to August, and Liberal MLAs refused to allow them to meet virtually.

“The Nova Scotia Legislature and its standing committees are the heart of our democratic system. Since March, the Liberals have used their majority to shut down standing committees, the main review mechanism for government decisions,” said Claudia Chender, NDP House Leader. “In a time of crisis, it is even more important to ensure there is transparency around the government’s actions. My colleagues and I are pleased to be resuming our work of bringing the concerns of our constituents forward in legislative venues and holding this Liberal government accountable.”

Almost every other province has had a legislative sitting or committees that continued to meet during the spring and summer, using teleconferences and virtual meeting technology.

“With the technology available today, it was possible for legislative committees to continue their work during the first wave of COVID-19. The only reason I can see for the committees to have been shut down is that the Liberal government wanted as little scrutiny as possible on their actions,” said Susan Leblanc, who sits on the Public Accounts Committee for the NDP. “We now have a massive backlog of information that needs to be reviewed. The public interest was not served by shutting down legislative committees for six months.”

The Public Accounts Committee will meet later today for the first time since March, the Health Committee held its first meeting in months yesterday.