New Legislative Committees Handicapped By Cut

Fredericton – The Standing Committee on Economic Policy met for the first time on May 21, leaving member David Coon, MLA Fredericton South and Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick, questioning its capacity to carry out its mandate.

The Standing Committee on Economic Policy was established under the new standing rules of the legislature. The rules were amended and the committee created to allow for a more thorough and specialized consideration of Government Bills than was possible in the Committee of the Whole.

“It is critical that the Committee has the capacity to actually carry out a more through and specialized examination of bills than in the past,” said Coon, “but this is not happening in practice.”

In their election platform, the government committed to providing MLAs with non-partisan research services to enable them to better participate in debate in the House and at committee. In its first budget, however, the government eliminated the Legislative researcher hired for this purpose.

During the Committee meeting, Coon introduced a motion to ensure the Committee had the ability to call witnesses.  He said this would allow experts and members of the public to provide input to help members give bills the thorough and specialized consideration intended by the rule changes.   His motion was ruled out of order.