With a government defeat seemingly inevitable, the Nova Scotia legislature kicked off to a raucous start Thursday.
After trading salvos, the house of assembly broke down into a shouting match in the middle of question period.
Liberal MLA Vicky Conrad was trying to ask a question when heckling back and forth drowned her out. Both NDP Leader Darrell Dexter and Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil, among many opposition members, loudly accused the government of hiding their budget.
“I’ll table that budget right now,” yelled Finance Minister Jamie Muir while pounding his desk.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil responded with “Then stand up and do it!”
After trying and failing to restore order, speaker of the house Alfie MacLeod eventually regained control. “Everyone take a deep breath,” he said after raising to his feet.
The outburst came after the government and opposition spent the morning accusing each other of forcing an election. Thursday the Tories tabled a bill to change finance laws and give them another $100 million in budget room.
The Conservatives say they had to spend the money to save jobs. The opposition say they’re trying to cook the books to cover up for falling into deficit.
An election will be triggered if neither opposition party supports the bill. Both the NDP and Liberals have refused to do that. Finance Minister Jamie Muir speculated the opposition might change its mind, but that idea was quickly rejected.
“He’s now wanting us to participate in changing the law retroactively to cover their mismanagement,” McNeil said. “I told them months ago I wasn’t willing to do that. I don’t know what more I can say.”
Debate on the bill begins today and will likely run into next week, unless the Tories decide to call an election over the weekend.