March 6th, 2020

Nova Scotian needs a legislative calendar to avoid unpredictable, rushed, late-night legislative sittings

Halifax -- The NDP tabled legislation Thursday to create a legislative calendar that would set out clear expectations for sitting days and sitting hours for the House of Assembly in Nova Scotia.

“Under the current system, the government of the day has all the power,” sand NDP Caucus Chair Susan Leblanc. “There would be huge benefits to having a legislative calendar for all members of the house, the news media, and the public to have a clear idea of when MLAs will be sitting in the legislature.”

Under the McNeil government, MLAs often sit very few days in the year, with extended hours every day. As a result, MLAs debate potential changes to laws, the provincial budget, and other legislative matters late into the night, limiting the possibility for public scrutiny. This bill prevents the government from being able to call for late hours until close to the end of a scheduled sitting.

“We know there are many barriers for people running for office. One of them is trying to balance time in the legislature with constituency work and personal responsibilities,” said NDP House Leader Claudia Chender. “Having set hours at Province House, and scheduled dates for legislative sittings would reduce the persistent barriers faced by candidates from equity-seeking groups.”

Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia all have set sitting days and publish annual calendars for time in the legislature. A legislative calendar was included in ten recommendations for change to increase the representation of women in Canadian politics presented to all parties by Equal Voice.