A first step on a long journey

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MLAs from opposing parties going for a walk on the beach?
It sounds almost absurd; but it’s true.

A pair of Nova Scotia MLAs have agreed to take a stroll along Melmerby Beach, a provincial park along the Northumberland Strait.

The walk will not be of the romantic variety, but instead will allow Pictou Centre Tory MLA Pat Dunn to share his concerns about coastal erosion at the popular summer destination with Liberal Zack Churchill, the minister of Natural Resources.

This agreed upon stroll is significant – or at least it should be viewed as such. Forget for a moment that it is at least a four-hour drive from Churchill’s home riding of Yarmouth to eastern Pictou County; the apparent spirit of co-operation being displayed at Nova Scotia’s Province House goes far beyond that and could almost make one believe that all hope is not lost for the political arena, that politicians can in fact work together for the betterment of their constituents.

Could this Christmas miracle spread? Could it happen here in P.E.I. or in Ottawa?

Let’s hope so.

When the Liberals there were wooing voters leading up to the October election now-Premier Stephen McNeil promised an improved tone in the assembly. He’s delivered – for now. The first sitting of the Liberal dominated session lasted only 11 days, so it is difficult to say if the co-operation will continue, but every journey begins with a first step as they say.

Nova Scotia media outlets have reported that the Liberals are serious about this change in tone and that all three house leaders are open to the suggestion.

The Chronicle Herald reports that some of the possible changes include having the house operate on normal business hours and adding an additional question period each week (four instead of three.) In a column this week the paper reported the changes could include “doing something about resolutions, the hour-long snore fest when members stand to recognize constituents for anything from getting a coaching job to a delicious-sounding cookie fundraiser.”

The very same thing also happens at P.E.I.’s legislature, and like other houses of assembly, it is most memorable for MLA absences, either physically not there, or mentally as most spend more talking to one another than they do listening to the member speaking.

Nova Scotia is offering up a refreshing change. Let’s hope it spreads, a little civility among members of all levels of government might help restore the public’s faith in the system and, perhaps, may even result in better government for all.



Organizations: Province House

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, P.E.I., Churchill Yarmouth Eastern Pictou Ottawa

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