Nova Scotia

Committee docks pay of vacationing MLA

An all-party committee of the legislature has voted to dock a long-time Liberal roughly a month's pay for vacationing in Florida during the spring sitting.

Manning MacDonald resigned Wednesday, hours before meeting with committee

Manning Macdonald has offered to donate the money to two Cape Breton charities. (CBC)

An all-party committee of the legislature has voted to dock a long-time Liberal roughly a month's pay for vacationing in Florida during the spring sitting.

But the lawyer who advises that committee says that order is not enforceable now that Manning MacDonald has resigned.

MacDonald announced his immediate retirement Wednesday, just hours before he was set to meet with the legislature management commission.

At issue was his vacation to Florida, during which he missed 20 of the last 33 days in the house.

MacDonald argued that he told the Speaker in advance of his trip. But Gordie Gosse said he didn’t know the time off was for vacation.

MacDonald said it was common practice for other politicians to miss time in the house.

Thursday, the entire committee agreed to punish MacDonald. But only the Liberals asked that everyone else who broke the rules be punished as well.

Attendance is mandatory during a sitting unless the Speaker grants an exemption, but the rule hasn’t been enforced.

Deputy Premier Frank Corbett argued MacDonald’s leave was unreasonable.

"The arrogance of that has to be brought to bear," said Corbett.

"I think it should be all fair, right across the board," said Progressive Conservative Chris d’Entremont. "But at the same time, being in Florida is different than being in your own constituency."

But neither the NDP nor the PCs were willing to have others pay a price for their absences.

Liberal Andrew Younger said that was a purely political move.

"This is really about trying to get points when they're low in the polls," said Younger.

In his resignation letter, MacDonald offered to donate a month’s salary to two Cape Breton charities or pay the province back.

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