Why I walked out of Public Accounts Committee

At our last meeting, joined by my colleagues in both opposition parties, I walked out of the Public Accounts Committee for which I am the chair. We did this to show the united disdain we felt for what has happened.

Let me explain: In September, during our first meeting, we discussed working together and developed an agenda that reflected the spirit of that cooperation. In the past, this committee’s agenda was a collaboration of topics from all parties, as well as Auditor General reports. The Auditor General’s work is important, and was part of the planned work.

You will understand our surprise when we entered the meeting last Wednesday and Liberal MLA Gordon Wilson filed a motion to focus the committee’s agenda on only items contained in the Nova Scotia Auditor General reports, excluding anything else.

Limiting what topics and departments that can be scrutinized in this fashion is an attack on the public’s right to know how their hard earned dollars are being spent, and it limits the purpose of the committee as stated in the rules of the House of Assembly.

This is wrong.

With this action, the McNeil Government said to the hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians who did not vote for them or don’t agree with them: You don’t matter, we don’t care.

Many of the Liberal MLAs may not understand why it is important in our legislature to give some power to the opposition.

Why? Because that’s democracy. If you don’t understand that, talk to somebody who lives in a country where they don’t have democracy.

As the chairman of this committee, I recall times when opposition-led business made a difference for Nova Scotians. Consider when seniors pharmacare drug premium increases were stopped, and when Newpage pensioners got to see the Superintendent of Pensions questioned about the weak oversight of their pensions.

I will say without any reservation that I am disgusted with what has happened. I even considered resigning from the committee. But I don’t want to be seen as a quitter.

So, we walked out but we will return for this week’s meeting.

We have a job to do to hold government accountable to you, and we will continue to do that.

Allan MacMaster

MLA Inverness