Nova Scotia's new Liberal government laid the ground for its agenda with a Throne Speech Thursday containing several initiatives for the legislature's fall sitting, including the establishment of a new holiday in February and a ban on the importation of hydraulic fracturing wastewater.
In the speech read by Lieutenant-Governor J.J. Grant, the government promised to bring in 10 pieces of legislation this fall, including one that would amend the province's contentious first contract arbitration law.
Premier Stephen McNeil is also promising to introduce legislation aimed at breaking the monopoly of Nova Scotia Power and measures to tighten the rules and increase transparency around government loan programs to business.
"My government's first piece of legislation will be the Electricity Reform Act, a bill that will permit consumer choice and competition while laying the groundwork for consultation with Nova Scotians on our energy future," Grant said in the speech.
The government said there would also be legislation to amend the act covering the government's information arm, Communications Nova Scotia, and an immediate and independent review of politicians' salaries and benefits, pensions, living allowances and other expenses.
It was McNeil's first Throne Speech since his Liberals won last month's election, taking 33 of the legislature's 51 seats.
McNeil said he also wants to change the tone of debate in the House, which has been rancorous in the past.
"It's government's responsibility to set the tone," he said before the speech. "If we do our job properly in the way it should be done, then hopefully we'll see a different tone."