Houston, PCs push for further transparency on Bill 4

Nova Scotians are relieved that the government has removed many of the reckless and overreaching sections of Bill 4. The PC Caucus is fighting to ensure the final bill is clear, transparent and responsible.

“While we are pleased that the government recognized the error of their ways and removed some of the more punitive and harsh provisions of this bill, there are still real concerns for Nova Scotians,” says PC Leader Tim Houston.

“Our amendments are reasonable. They hold the government to their word.”

Amendments introduced by Houston and PC MLA Tory Rushton would ensure that private landowners wouldn’t be vulnerable to the Act through regulatory changes. It also calls for the establishment of a clear consultation process and removal of references to compensation since land cannot be seized.

“Landowners deserve peace of mind that the government won’t come after them behind closed doors at the Cabinet table,” says Rushton.

“As it stands, Section 18(1)(L) makes it clear that private landowners are NOT exempt from the scope of regulatory powers,” says Houston. “That must be fixed because government has been sneaky about this bill twice before.”

Though the bill does require the Minister to engage in public consultation before enacting any such regulations, the manner of that public consultation reads: “in such a manner as the Minister considers appropriate.” This language is too broad and discretionary.

“The Liberals failed to consult twice so far on this bill,” says Rushton. “It’s a shame we even have to put in writing that the government should talk to Nova Scotians before they make sweeping decisions, but that’s the reality of working alongside a closed-door government.”

“They’ve been doing ‘controlled’ public consultations for the past eight years.”