Decision to Ram Bills Through Legislature a Disservice to Democracy

Fredericton – Today the government will use its majority to impose closure on debate and pass 8 bills, without the Legislative Assembly having the time to adequately study or consider amendments for most of them. Green Party Leader David Coon has been planning to propose a total of 8 amendments to the bill to change the Public Health Act and the bill to provide First Contract legislation.

“The government will claim there has been plenty of time to study and amend the bills before us, but it’s not true,” said Coon. “The bills I propose to amend have only been before the committee for 3 hours each, and only Official Opposition members have spoken to them.”

As of Tuesday, the bills to grant Service New Brunswick broad new powers and the amendments to conflict of interest legislation had not been examined at all.

“With its majority, the government regards the Legislative Assembly as a rubber stamp, and when we don’t behave that way, it orders its members to bring down the hammer to prevent us from doing our job as lawmakers,” said Coon.

Unlike other provincial parliaments and the House of Commons, government members in New Brunswick use their majority to automatically reject amendments to bills regardless of their merit. As a result, the Official Opposition has been fillibustering Bill 5, the bill to take the extra-mural program away from the regional health authorities and turn its management over to Medavie.

Government members are expected to point to the 26 hours of debate on Bill 5 as justification for its closure motion. The three amendments proposed to Bill 5 by Green Party David Coon were all rejected out of hand in November during the 4 hours he devoted to asking questions and providing comments on specific sections of the bill.