As expected, the Spring sitting of the Nova Scotia legislature was dominated by the Balanced Budget.
But it turned out to be a very important session on the legislation front as well. First and foremost was passage of Bill No. 61 the Cyber-Safety Act – a package of 5 interwoven legislative pieces – the Dexter government’s legal response to the Rehteah Parsons story. And the first of it’s kind in Canada.
The NDP government’s other legislative accomplishments this spring were also not inconsiderable:
- Strengthened animal protection legislation
- Better protections for seniors and patients, from abuse, including financial abuse
- A modern, better, safety regime in the offshore
- Sable Island protection
- HRM Charter amendments: a framework for progressive urban development in the HRM, enabling both density and affordable housing
- Benefits to widows (a correction of a wrong), benefits to spouses and benefits to parents of victims
- Keeping home heat tax free in Nova Scotia by law
Now contrast those with the Opposition Liberal’s proposed legislative ideas.
The most noticeable thing about Liberal bills is their lack of substance and meaningful action. In fact, a third of the Liberal bills, including a bunch with McNeil’s name on them, simply call for more study. On education systems and curricula, university fee structures, the entire tax system, immigration, etc.* The price tag alone for all these reviews is easily in the millions. As it stands, if you’re looking for glimpses of what a Liberal vision for the province might be, you won’t find enough to fill one side of a napkin in their legislative proposals.
Nova Scotians would have to wait until at least year two for a McNeil government to do anything while they study. And it makes you wonder, what has Stephen McNeil been doing these last four years, if not studying problems, reviewing the situation, and, ultimately, proposing solutions? Isn’t that what being in Opposition is supposed to be about? Isn’t that what people expect from the proverbial government in waiting?
It’s time for people to start asking Stephen McNeil what he’s been doing all this time.
*Interestingly, one of the systems or Departments for which a review is not called for, is the biggest: Health. Given the Liberal’s stance on a Superboard centralized in Halifax, this is a bit worrisome. Last time they were in government without a plan they slashed and burned – breaking collective agreements, rolling back wages, reducing the number of nurses in the province, and cutting dental care to children.