Liberals diminish important role of Community Services Committee

September 16, 2015

NDP Community Services critic Marian Mancini is raising concerns about how topics are being selected by the Liberal majority on the Standing Committee for Community Services, chaired by Liberal MLA Patricia Arab.

During yesterday’s committee meeting, the Liberals rejected an NDP request to invite Dalhousie Legal Aid to testify about the challenges its clients face when accessing income assistance.

Mancini says it’s disappointing the Liberals are abusing their majority to prevent meaningful discussion and examination into pressing issues.

“Thousands of Nova Scotians are struggling to get by because Minister Joanne Bernard froze income assistance two years in a row,” says Mancini. “Having Dalhousie Legal Aid testify posed no threat to privacy, as claimed by the Chair. It was painfully evident the Liberals just weren’t prepared to allow for any scrutiny into their government’s record. That’s disappointing. What is the point of a legislative committee if it can’t hold the government accountable?”

The MLA for Halifax Atlantic, Brendan Maguire, took the unprecedented step of introducing the topics for the next 15 committee meetings, which will likely extend well into 2017, and Arab as Chair now has the power to decide the order they appear. Only one of 4 proposed NDP topics made the list. When Mancini read an amendment to Maguire’s motion calling on the committee to allow topics to rotate between selections of all three parties (which prior to yesterday was the committee’s convention), the Liberals voted it down.