Q26. When does the legislature meet?

There is a spring sitting and a fall sitting, but otherwise there are no fixed dates


A26. The legislature does not meet year-round. There must be a spring sitting and there must be a fall sitting, but there are no fixed dates.

The spring sitting usually starts around the end of March or the beginning of April, and typically runs to the Victoria Day long weekend in May. The main item of business in the spring sitting is the debate on the provincial budget. (The Spring 2018 sitting starts on February 27th, which is much earlier than usual.)

The fall sitting usually starts around the beginning of November, and typically runs until early December. In 2017, the fall sitting started on September 21st, which is earlier than usual, but that was mainly because a budget still needed to be passed.

The government decides when the spring sitting and the fall sitting will start. They usually give the Speaker thirty days’ notice of the proposed starting date, then the Speaker sends out a news release.

The rules also allow the government to call the House into session at any time, if they deem it in the public interest to do so. That’s what happened with the December 2015 session  and the February 13, 2017 session. Technically the Speaker has to agree that it’s necessary, but it is highly unlikely the Speaker would ever refuse a government request to recall the House.

It has become increasingly difficult to predict the time of day that the House will meet. It used to be more predictable. The only certainty is that, at the end of each day, the Government House Leader announces when the House will meet the following day.

It is also pretty much impossible to predict how long a daily sitting will last. It all depends on how much business there is to do, and how much delay the opposition wants on that particular day.

If the exact sitting time is important to you, you should check the legislature’s website, or call your MLA, or call Province House. For example, if you are planning a demonstration at Province House, you’ll want to do it when the MLAs are actually there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people demonstrating in front of an empty Province House. If the purpose of a demonstration is to put pressure on MLAs, that’s not very effective.

Author: Graham Steele

A former MLA in Nova Scotia, currently Professor of Business Law in the Rowe School of Business at Dalhousie University

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s