Nova Scotia

Spring session of N.S. legislature will start with many empty seats

The 2021 spring sitting of the Nova Scotia legislature will be Iain Rankin's first as premier and he wants the hybrid session to be a collaborative one.

Premier says he wants 'collaborative' sitting

NDP House Leader Claudia Chender, left, discusses new hybrid arrangements with Speaker Kevin Murphy, right, on the eve of Nova Scotia's spring sitting of the legislature. (Jean Laroche)

When Nova Scotia Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc reads the speech from the throne today, he'll deliver it to a mostly empty legislative chamber.

Just 12 of 51 MLAs will be allowed to sit at Province House this spring to respect COVID-19 protocols.

Premier Iain Rankin says it will be "interesting" to have most provincial representatives logging in rather than filing onto the floor of the legislature.

"Ideally there will be more co-operation and less spirited heckling," Rankin said of the hybrid model. "The tone of our government will be a collaborative one, working with other parties if they choose to join us on that journey."

Iain Rankin says he hopes there will be more collaboration and less heckling when the spring session of the Nova Scotia legislature begins today. (The Canadian Press)

PC Leader Tim Houston, leader of the province's Official Opposition, isn't worried about MLAs logging on to take part in the proceedings.

"Should work smoothly, I mean everyone else has figured out how to use technology, Zoom meetings and all that stuff," said Houston.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill welcomed the call for a more co-operative approach from the governing Liberals.

"The new premier has clearly indicated that a collegial approach is the one that is to be preferred by him," said Burrill. "It's obviously the one that's to be preferred by us.

"And I think that one of the things that will make the session singular is that we will see the extent to which that's true."

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said his party is all for more collaboration in the House. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

Houston said he too is ready to embrace less division in the House.

"We'll work with anyone that wants to help Nova Scotians," he said. "That's exactly the reason why we're here."

Rankin confirmed his government would be reintroducing the Biodiversity Act. It died on the order paper when former premier Stephen McNeil prorogued the legislature last November.

Rankin also said the governing party planned to amend the Crowns Land Act, as well as bring in legislation related to last spring's mass shooting that began in Portapique and left 22 people dead.

Houston said his party would focus on health care.

PC Leader Tim Houston says his party will focus on health care in the spring sitting. (PC Caucus)

According to Burrill, the NDP plans to focus on a host of issues, including affordable and accessible child care, paid sick days for all Nova Scotians, permanent rent control, changes to the long-term care system and more action on climate change.

The Rankin Liberals will also bring in a budget this spring. Finance Minister Labi Kousoulis has said he will table it later this month.



To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?