Nova Scotians are going to work, their children are going to school, but the McNeil Liberals have yet to re-open the Legislature. The Legislature in Nova Scotia has sat for only 13 days this year and not since COVID-19 came to the province, not even virtually, making Nova Scotian the only province not to have sat in some capacity.
Progressive Conservative House Leader Allan MacMaster says the Liberals may be more concerned with keeping their decisions out of the public eye, but the government’s responsibility to Nova Scotians is beyond extending its political life.
“The world has changed since the legislature last sat in March,” says MacMaster. “Nova Scotians have questions about the COVID-19 response, long-term care, our economic recovery and the ever growing wait times for hospital procedures. People have elected a government to represent them to discuss these matters in the Legislature and it should be open for that.”
MacMaster says negotiations started in August between the Speaker and House Leaders about how to safely re-open the Legislature during the pandemic. Since then, the governing Liberals have refused to provide a breakdown of how $228 million in federal COVID-19 relief money was spent, refused to release a report into the 53 deaths at the Northwood long-term care facility, and launched a political race to replace the outgoing Premier.
The Progressive Conservative House Leader says that there seemed to be general agreement to proceed a month ago.
"The Premier gets to decide when the house re-opens," said MacMaster. "At the end of his term he probably feels he has no need for it, but that begs the question: does he believe the Legislature is there to serve the people or his own political party?"
McMaster said that the Progressive Conservatives would have liked to have more MLAs in the Legislature safely, but was happy to compromise if it meant getting the house back sooner. But two months have passed, and the Liberals have still not done what they promised.
“The Legislature is a place to make decisions that are important to the people, and a place to challenge the government to make sure they are doing a good job for Nova Scotians," said MacMaster.
"The Liberals seem to have forgotten that the house belongs to the people and should be at work for them."