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Premier defends decision to shutter committee meetings even as economy reopens

The provincial government has come under fire from opposition members after it closed committee meetings
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Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc delivers the throne speech on Sept. 6, 2018 (Chris Halef/HalifaxToday.ca)

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is defending his government's decision to shutter committee meetings despite criticism from the opposition parties.

Premier Stephen McNeil says there are bigger issues at hand.

The provincial government has come under fire from opposition members after it closed committee meetings but the Premier says this was done as the province continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic

"Our committees unanimously voted to adjourn, and suspend committee meetings during that period of time, to be open and transparent, our caucus has a majority on these committees," explains McNeil. "And we did so because we thought it was important that quite honestly, that Public Health and our Health Department focused on the health and wellbeing of Nova Scotians."

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston disagrees, adding he believes the government doesn't want to be accountable by the legislative process.

"Committees could be meeting, they could be talking with all kinds of health professionals, I don't know that Doctor Strang has ever appeared before a committee as long as I've been here," says Houston. "So it's not about Doctor Strang appearing before a committee, it's about healthcare professionals appearing before a committee."

McNeil also cites the budget passing and the early spring sitting as additional reasons they've chosen not to resume committee meetings. He says all three parties voted to adjourn the house after the early sitting, adding the criticism that other legislatures are sitting is misleading.

"Other Canadian provinces have different requirements, they are legislated to sit at this moment in time, we're not," says McNeil. "They don't have budgets passed, we have a budget passed."

Houston thinks it speaks more to a government that doesn't want to be held accountable, as opposed to one that can't be held accountable by the legislative process.


Chris Halef

About the Author: Chris Halef

Chris is a reporter for HalifaxToday.ca and NEWS 95.7. In 2018, he won the RTDNA Dave Rogers Award for best short feature.
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