Keith Bain to remain as Speaker during spring session of N.S. legislature

Keith Bain will remain Speaker of the Nova Scotia Legislature for the duration of the upcoming spring session. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
Keith Bain will remain Speaker of the Nova Scotia Legislature for the duration of the upcoming spring session. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

Keith Bain will continue to preside over the Nova Scotia Legislature as Speaker of the House for the duration of the upcoming spring session.

Premier Tim Houston confirmed the news following a funding announcement in Antigonish on Thursday.

"I'm not anticipating any changes during the session," Houston told reporters.

Bain's future in the chair came into question last fall when it was learned that Houston approached him about stepping aside to make way for another member of the Tory caucus. That request came at the same time the government was looking to add other Tory MLAs as deputy speakers.

When Bain declined to step aside, things got heated at Province House.

Letter of resignation

Although Houston and other members of the Tory caucus initially presented the situation as natural succession planning, Bain later told reporters that the premier made clear to him that he was not happy with several rulings that put the government "in a hard spot."

Those rulings included increasing public health protocols at Province House following a COVID-19 outbreak and the decision to go ahead with a legally required pay review for MLAs after the last provincial election.

The latter move led to Houston recalling the legislature for a brief summer session to quash a raise that would have been legally binding and created politically challenging optics.

It all led to the unusual situation where opposition MLAs were defending the performance of a Speaker who is a member of the government caucus and was put forward for the job by the premier after the Tories won the last election.

In the end, Bain stayed on through the fall but signed a letter pledging to resign on April 1. He later said he was hoping that was negotiable and that he would be able to remain as Speaker, but until now it was unclear whether he would get his wish.

'A job that I truly enjoy'

During a brief telephone interview on Thursday, Bain said Houston informed him after a caucus meeting several weeks ago that he wouldn't force a change .

"I felt great," said the veteran MLA.

"He's leaving me in a job that I truly enjoy."

What happens beyond the spring session is anyone's guess, but Bain said he recognizes Houston will be approaching the halfway point of his mandate and he expects there could be changes.

"I'm sure there are considerations everywhere."

Bain turns 71 in October. He was first elected in the district of Victoria-The Lakes in 2006 and served until being defeated in the 2013 provincial election. He regained the seat in 2017 and was re-elected in 2021.

But Bain said he won't be reoffering when voters go to the polls next in 2025.

"I'll be 73 years old. Time for somebody else to take over."