Today, the McNeil Liberals voted against a PC motion to hold committee meetings using video conferencing technology, such as Zoom, to discuss the business of the province during COVID-19. The vote is part of a pattern of dodging accountability and transparency at the committee level.
“They’re hoping that no one will notice,” said Brad Johns, a Progressive Conservative member on the committee. “The Premier would rather not be held accountable.”
Today’s Standing Committee on Human Resources was limited to a 50 minute phone call.
“If it’s not safe to work in person, then we can do our work virtually like many other Nova Scotians and all levels of government have done across the country” continued Johns. “But it’s not just about virtual meetings, it’s about the Liberal government shutting committees down.”
The decision follows the Liberals voting against holding two other standing committee meetings: Health and Public Accounts. Both the PC and NDP members voted to continue those meetings.
The rejection of on-camera committee meetings is just the latest in a long list of actions taken by the McNeil Liberals to limit democratic procedures and lessen the powers of committees:
- In May of 2018 Liberal MLAs continued to ignore the healthcare crisis by using their majority on the Human Resources Committee to reject examining physician recruitment in Nova Scotia.
- Since 2018, The McNeil Liberals have restricted the topics and witnesses who could be called before the Public Accounts Committee.
- In February of 2019, the Liberals reduced Public Account Committee meetings from four per month, to 12 per year.
- In March of 2020, the Liberal majority committee broke the rules by refusing to let PC Leader Tim Houston put forward an amendment to the government’s Financial Measures Act. The speaker ruled against the government.
“Other provinces, municipalities, and legislatures across the country have figured out how to hold functioning committee meetings and even legislative sittings virtually,” said PC Leader Tim Houston. ”It’s disappointing to see the Liberals stall progress towards these virtual meetings at every turn.”