My years on the Public Accounts Committee are one of the things I am most proud of since being elected.
Through those meetings we exposed Liberal weakness after weakness. They hated it. And now they have reacted. Yesterday they effectively killed the committee as a tool to hold the government to account and turned it into a weekly rubber stamp festival.
It was so bad yesterday that two of the longest-serving MLAs walked out of the meeting.
Both Chris d’Entremont and Dave Wilson were so disgusted by this Liberal government that they actually got up and left.
Public Accounts Committee reviews public spending, reports of the Auditor General and other matters concerned with public funds. It is meant to hold the government to account, to maintain a level of transparency, and to keep an eye on how taxpayer money is being spent.
Through this committee, we’ve managed to reveal a number of government errors. We’ve even managed to fix a few of them (like the changes to Seniors’ Pharmacare).
We did that by preparing ourselves. Every single week I engaged members through my Sunday night “Public Accounts” email and they responded. The stories, questions and concerns folks shared made sure that I was ready to ask the tough questions.
Our effectiveness really frustrated the Liberals. Oh sure, they used to give us the runaround and use their majority to block a topic they thought would be damaging to them but now they have taken things a step further.
Yesterday the Liberal MLAs used their majority to fundamentally change the Public Accounts mandate. Now only chapters of the Auditor General's reports will allowed to be covered going forward. Don’t get me wrong, as an accountant I really enjoy the work of the Auditor General but there is so much more going on in government that needs to be open to review.
One reporter said to me that this Liberal stunt effectively renders Public Accounts Committee useless and they won’t bother covering it anymore. Stephen McNeil has effectively killed the committee that has held his government accountable for its bad decisions. Surprised?
Public Accounts is a discussion on how the government is spending your money.
We need greater transparency in government, not less.
This is another example of Stephen McNeil shutting down debate.
I see the importance of the Public Accounts Committee. As Premier, I would ensure the Committee is restored to the fully functioning committee it was before the Liberals decided to play these games. While the Committee can create difficult days for government, it also produces better results for Nova Scotians. That's what matters.