It’s still at least three or four months away, but Liberal Leader Dwight Ball wants to know what exactly to expect from a House of Assembly special debate on Muskrat Falls.
Thursday, Ball sent an open letter to Premier Kathy Dunderdale asking to nail down some of the specifics on the parameters of the debate, which will happen sometime this fall.
Because it’ll be a special debate, it will fall outside the usual rules of the legislature and it will require some sort of understanding between the political parties when it comes to the protocols and parameters.
“We’re asking the question so that as the official Opposition we can prepare ourselves,” Ball said. “From the official Opposition’s perspective, we’re preparing for a very meaningful special debate on Muskrat Falls and this is the reason why we’d like to see the framework established as early as possible.”
Premier Kathy Dunderdale has indicated the debate will likely run for about a week and it will happen some time this fall, but apart from that no details have been announced.
Dunderdale declined to comment about it Thursday. A spokeswoman said Government House Leader Jerome Kennedy would be better able to speak to the issue.
Kennedy was out of the country, but provided an e-mailed statement.
“Both the Official Opposition and the 3rd Party will be consulted on the debate in the legislature on Muskrat Falls,” he wrote. “The debate must be informed by a significant amount of information, which is being compiled and will be based on the latest numbers for the project. When the debate will occur can best be determined once the compilation of this information is complete.”
In his letter to Dunderdale, Ball asked about a range of issues. He wanted to know whether there will be limits on how many times each MHA can speak, and what sort of motion or resolution MHAs will be debating and voting on.
Ball also indicated he’s interested in having witnesses or presenters called to the House of Assembly to speak as part of the debate. He said that’s something that has happened during other special debates in the past, such as the debate on the Meech Lake Accord.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael reserved judgement, saying she hopes Kennedy will consult with her and they’ll be able to hammer out terms of the debate.
However, she repeated her party’s consistent call for active House of Assembly standing committees which could deal with issues such as Muskrat Falls in more detail.
“I wish that that was the route that we had been following here,” she said.
“You can have a discussion in an all-party setting that’s more intimate and you get more details than the structure of the debate in the House.”