The Atlantica Party seeks to make needed modern reforms to the Nova Scotia electoral and governing system. Current levels of technology make it trivial to bring greater levels of transparency, and thus accountability, to the public with up-to-date information about their elected representatives and important issues. As such, it is time to create those greater levels of transparency and accountability in government and make information available to the electorate. The following are some ways that greater transparency and accountability can be brought to Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians.
MLA Recall – Representatives elected by Nova Scotians should be held accountable throughout their term, and not just at mandated elections. Providing constituents with the tools to hold their elected officials to account would help restore faith in our electoral process. The process already in place in British Columbia is a good ideal to emulate. This would allow constituents to petition for the removal of an elected MLA by collecting signatures of over 40% of registered voters in the electoral riding, then, providing all conditions are met, triggering a by-election in that riding.
Public Submission of Laws/Acts – With a prescribed percentage of voter signatures (either per electoral riding or overall), the opportunity to suggest new legislation or changes to existing legislation would serve the interests of true democracy. Should the requirements of the public initiative be met, the government would then have the responsibility of drafting the bill and passing it through the legislative process, although with no guarantee of it passing (as is the case with all legislation).
Strengthen the Lobbying Act - We would require mandatory registration of all lobbyists, with public access to the registry. Heavy fines would be levied and/or further punishment for anyone who contravenes the rules associated with lobbying the government. This will also help to limit the influence of people and “backroom” deals. Doing this will force anyone that wishes to petition or influence policy to do so in public view for all Nova Scotians.
Allowing Free Votes in the Legislature - Elected members must be able to vote in the best interests of their constituents, and not be forced to vote along party lines with whipped votes. The Atlantica Party advocates for free voting in the legislature for all of its members.
Recorded and Access to Member Votes and Attendance in the Legislature - Elected MLAs are employed by those that elected them. As such, information on MLA votes and attendance in the Legislature should be recorded and made available to the people. In this way MLAs can be made more accountable to their constituents.
- Empowering the Public Accounts Committee, the Auditor General, and the Privacy Commissioner - These are key pillars to openness, transparency, and accountability for our democracy. Therefore, these offices must have the power for the people to hold their government to account. The Auditor General and Privacy Commissioners must also have the power to call for police investigations when there is evidence of wrongdoing outside of the Legislature. There must also be stiffer penalties for those that abuse their office and betray the trust of the people of Nova Scotia.
We believe these changes will help to create a more active, involved and better represented electorate, which is inarguably better for Nova Scotians, and which would help keep the focus of MLAs on their constituents.