Nova Scotia

Premier's plan to replace N.S. Speaker not intimidation, Deputy Speaker rules

Deputy Speaker of the Nova Scotia Legislature, Liberal Angela Simmonds, has ruled against her own party leader who has accused Premier Tim Houston of intimidating Speaker Keith Bain by moving to replace him.

Liberal Angela Simmonds says Speaker Keith Bain is still able to make independent rulings in the House

The assertion that Premier Tim Houston was trying to intimidate Keith Bain, pictured, by threatening to remove him as Speaker of the Legislature if he didn't resign the position was dismissed by Deputy Speaker Angela Simmonds. (Robert Short/CBC)

Deputy Speaker of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, Liberal Angela Simmonds, has dismissed her leader's assertion that Premier Tim Houston was trying to intimidate Keith Bain by threatening to remove him as Speaker if he didn't resign on his own.

Liberal Leader Zach Churchill levelled the accusation last Friday and called on Simmonds to rule on whether attempts by Houston to force his caucus colleague to resign constituted intimidation or a breach of Bain's privilege.

In a six-and-a-half page ruling Tuesday, Simmonds dismissed Churchill's point of view.

"Whatever one may think of the premier's request that the Speaker resign, I do not think the premier's actions can be construed as an attempt to intimidate the Speaker or as having had that effect," said Simmonds. 

"There is no indication that the premier's statements towards the Speaker sought to or had the effect of coercing or compelling the Speaker to change his conduct in the discharge of his duties as Speaker or deterring him from making rulings unfavourable to the government, and thus no breach of the Speaker's privilege that impaired his ability to act impartially and independently,"

Deputy Speaker Angela Simmonds is a Liberal MLA representing the district of Preston. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Simmonds came to her conclusion after meeting privately with the premier and his chief of staff on Friday. She also met with Bain separately.

While the MLA for Victoria-The Lakes offered a detailed account of his interactions with the premier and his office, Houston did not.

Bain told Simmonds the premier never asked him to change the way he conducted himself as Speaker, but also made it clear Bain couldn't stay on.

Bain also told Simmonds he signed a letter stating he would resign next April 1, but that he was told by Houston that letter would be held in confidence until that date.

Instead, the following day, the Progressive Conservative caucus issued a news release announcing Bain's decision to step down next spring.


Jean Laroche


Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter since 1987. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.

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