Halifax, Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia is incredibly lucky to have our Legislature. It is the product of centuries of development. It is a proud legacy of our colonial history and Nova Scotians have continued its evolution since the Legislature first met October 2 1758.
Political science has a theory called the Iron Law of Oligarchy which argues all democratic institutions eventually fall under the sway of a small group of people (an oligarchy). Unfortunately this is the case with our Legislature which is currently under the complete control of a small group in government called the Premier’s Office.
But isn’t that the way things are supposed to work? Emphatically no!
Our Legislature has a mighty 1,500 year history of development opposing tyranny; it represents the People against the authority of kings, that is, governments. Wars have been fought for the Legislature. There are many notable dates in that history, for example Simon de Montfort famous legislature of 1258 stripped the King (Henry III) of unlimited authority for the first time. Another example is Joseph Howe’s legislature of 1848 which formally made government responsible to the legislature. We have inherited a Legislature which is the People’s House whose role is to restrain government. How? By voting down proposals from government that the people do not support.
But per the Iron Law the Legislature is now a rubber stamp organization where our representatives no longer serve the people. Our House is so enfeebled and so irrelevant as to be comical, no real debate occurs, it only sat 32 days last year (the lowest of all provinces) and according to Graham Steele while in the Legislature MLAs “… watch movies, listen to music, incessantly email and text” to fill their empty time.
Without a functioning Legislature government can run rampant, pass expedient ill-conceived legislature, expand at will, run deficits and ignore issues with no consequences. Any citizen’s frustration with government is due to an absent Legislature. Without a Legislature government knows it can safely ignore citizens. This state of affairs has existed for so long in Nova Scotia that most citizens naturally assume the Legislature is part of the government. Even our MLAs seem to have forgotten as former MLA Manning MacDonald famously said “The constituents are not paying me to be in the House …”
However, all is not lost. The genius of our inherited system allows the people, informed by a free press, to renew our democracy from time to time. Just as we no longer live under despotic kings we do not need to live under unrestrained government.
We need to free our House. The Legislature must be returned to full independence from government. Our representatives will then be free to represent the people again, to inquire into government operations, and debate and vote for or against government proposals.
The Legislature is the most important part of our democracy and that is why the Atlantica Party, as part of its Democracy Revolution, calls for the freedom and independence of the Nova Scotia Legislature.