Green Party leader says committee work blocked by Legislature shutdown

Fredericton – David Coon, Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South, says that by shutting down the Legislative Assembly, the Higgs government is preventing important committee work from happening.

“The government with the support of the Liberal opposition has brought the work of the Legislative Branch of government to a screeching halt,” said Coon.  “There are seven committees that cannot begin their work because the Legislature has yet to approve their membership or chairs yet.  Without the ability for members to participate in the sitting of the Legislature virtually, I don’t see us reconvening until sometime in the new year.”

To date, the Legislature has approved the membership of only one committee, the Economic Policy Committee responsible for studying government bills. Committee membership must be established by a motion put to a vote by MLAs, which requires the Legislative Assembly to be in-session.

The Public Accounts Committee is unable to meet to consider the Auditor General’s reports.  One report was tabled before the 60th Legislature was convened, and a second is due to be delivered in the next few weeks. This is also the committee that holds government departments and Crown Corporations accountable for how they spend the money in their budgets. 

The Standing Committee on Procedures, Privileges and Legislative Officers would normally meet in the next few weeks to receive annual reports from the Official Languages Commissioner and Child and Youth Advocate.  It is also the committee that would recommend the changes to the Legislatures Standing rules to permit hybrid and virtual sittings of the House

The Premier has said he want advice from the Standing Committee on Climate Change on which commitments in the 2006 Climate Action Plan should be implemented, but that committee has also not been convened.

“The work of the Legislative Assembly has ground to a halt for the fourth time this year,” said Coon. “We have only sat for 12 full days out of 328 this year, yet I seen no sense of urgency on the part of either the government or the Official Opposition to ensure the people’ representatives can do their work.”