New Brunswick legislature adjourns house sitting until end of March

Liberal’s adjourn question period ending budget debate
WATCH ABOVE: Brian Gallant’s Liberal Government moved to adjourn question period saying that the budget debate had concluded, and committee work would be better use of the assembly’s time. Global’s Jeremy Keefe reports.

Less than two weeks after the 2016-17 New Brunswick budget was unveiled, the provincial legislative assembly will take a break.

A motion passed on Thursday will see the current House sitting adjourned until March 29.

“After returning for an earlier house sitting than usual, and debating a budget…we will continue to focus on the important business of government at legislative committee sittings,” said Government House Leader Hedard Albert.

READ MORE: Opposition concerned about possible privatization of N.B. health care

The Opposition Conservatives, who have been vocal in their disapproval for the new budget, criticized the move as a way for the Liberals to avoid defending the budget.

“It also takes away the ability to put bills in motion and on the floor. That’s key to democracy,” said Opposition Leader Bruce Fitch.

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The Opposition put forward an amendment to the motion that would see House sitting sessions resume next week, but it was defeated 25-17.

The ensuing vote for the original motion passed by the same margin.

Although Friday will be the last House sitting for more than six weeks, the government denied it was a ploy to escape being pressured about the new budget.

It’s an opportunity for the members of the Opposition to get into the budget estimates and ask as many questions as they want concerning our budget,” said Bill Fraser, the Liberal MLA for Miramichi. “It’s going to be debated on the floor of the legislature, open to the public.”