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There are signs democracy may be stirring again in Nova Scotia. As children and teachers go back to school next Tuesday, elected MLAs will go back to at least some semblance of regular business at the Legislature. After a five-month plus absence during the pandemic, the Health Committee will meet in person at the Legislature next Tuesday to discuss issues around COVID-19. 

Witnesses are expected to include the Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang and deputy Health Minister Kevin Orrell. On Wednesday, September 9, elected MLAs from all three parties will get an opportunity to ask questions about how the provincial government is spending money on programs and services. It will be the first meeting of the Public Accounts Committee since March 11.

Over the past months, both Opposition NDP and PC parties had requested various committees meet using Zoom or videoconferencing technology but those requests were rejected by the Liberal majority on those Committees. The only one which has continued to meet virtually is the Human Resources Committee: it names people to positions on government boards and agencies. There have been no meetings of the Natural Resources & Economic Development or the Community Services Committees. 

A date has yet to be announced when all elected politicians (MLAs) will return for the fall sitting of the Nova Scotia Legislature. MLAs in PEI and New Brunswick (prior to an election call) had been recalled for emergency debates this summer. Premier Stephen McNeil says discussions are underway to figure out when the session will begin. Some modifications to the historic legislative chamber may be needed to allow for physical distancing. 

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Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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