When the fall session of the Nova Scotia Legislature begins Thursday afternoon, Keith Bain will be in the Speaker’s chair to preside over the daily routine. How long he remains in the position depends on whether Premier Tim Houston follows through on an attempt to take away the job from the MLA for Victoria-The Lakes.
Although Houston suggested Wednesday that no such plan was in the works, Bain posted about it on his Facebook page last week saying, “I have made my decision not to resign as requested and, rightly or wrongly, will accept any consequences.”
Both opposition leaders also told reporters that Bain had confirmed Houston’s plan to remove him.
“I don’t think it’s right to give him an ultimatum to resign or be kicked out,” Liberal Leader Zach Churchill told reporters Wednesday. “I think this is wrong.”
“He confirmed that the prime minister called him and asked him to resign,” NDP Leader Claudia Chender said.
After a health-related announcement on Wednesday, Houston admonished a CBC reporter for asking about Bain during the news conference.
“I know you really, sort of, personally spent a few days trying to fabricate a story and we’re not going to tarnish this wonderful announcement with these kinds of rumors and innuendos.”
The prime minister was referring to CBC reporters who recently asked members of his cabinet and Progressive Conservative backbenchers for their thoughts on Bain’s performance as Speaker and whether they think he should be replaced.
In recent public events, both Health Minister Michelle Thompson and Education Minister Becky Druhan would not answer questions about Bain, saying they would only address questions related to the topic.
“I’m here tonight to talk about health care and, you know I spent some time with Keith today and I’m glad to have an opportunity to be here to support my colleague and really my focus here tonight is health care, ” said. Thompson at a meeting in Baddeck on October 6, attended by Bain.
“I have absolutely nothing to say about that,” Druhan said Tuesday, after announcing pay raises for Early Childhood Educators. “Today is all about our ECEs and celebrating the incredible salaries we implement for them.”
Backbench PC MLAs were just as tough on the way to Tuesday’s committee meeting.
“I’m just a baby MLA, I have no comment,” said Danielle Barkhouse, rookie MLA for Chester-St. Margaret’s. “Ask me in another term, perhaps.”
The representative for King West, Chris Palmer, also refused to discuss the matter.
“I’m here today just for health committee, so I’m not here to discuss that today and we have a good health committee meeting here today and that’s my focus,” Palmer said. “I will not comment on the Speaker.”
Glace Bay-Dominion MLA John White, also elected in 2021, would not say what he thought of Bain as Speaker.
“I don’t have any kids to answer. I have to go in there and review this meeting. This meeting is 10 minutes away, so I’m sorry.”
Asked if Bain needed to be replaced White replied, “No comment.”
To replace the Speakers, a majority of the 55 MLAs in the House would have to support a motion of no confidence in the Speaker. If successful, it would be the first time since 1875 that a Speaker had been dismissed from the job at Province House.
Members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly would then need to elect a new speaker by secret ballot.