New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael was rapped on the knuckles in the House of Assembly Tuesday after she tried to take the government to task for something that wasn’t really its responsibility.
What’s more, according to Liberal MHA Yvonne Jones it seems like Michael was criticizing the government for budget cuts that she voted in favour of behind closed doors.
On Monday afternoon, Michael went after Dunderdale during question period for budget cuts which forced the House of Assembly administration to lay off the one researcher for the public accounts committee (PAC).
“The public accounts committee focuses its attention on the findings of the auditor general and its reviews of government spending. Finally after eight years of inactivity, this committee has begun meeting. Now the government has laid off the one employee that the committee had to help with its work, just when I had hoped for more accountability for government spending,” Michael said.
“I ask the premier: Why is the government deliberately continuing to limit accountability and transparency at every level?” Michael continued.
On Tuesday, Dunderdale raised the matter again in the House of Assembly, saying that Michael was out of line by trying to hold the government responsible for those budget cuts.
Technically, the House of Assembly is independent from the government, and it is not run by the premier or her cabinet. Instead, the House of Assembly Management Commission deals with all matters dealing with the legislature, including the auditor general, members’ consistency issues, and staffers for legislative committees.
“Government ministries can only answer questions for which they are responsible,” Dunderdale said. “The leader of the NDP should have directed her question yesterday to the management commission.”
Michael is actually one of the six MHAs who sit on the management commission, and Dunderdale said Michael was at the Feb. 28 meeting when the budget cuts were discussed.
When The Telegram spoke to her, Michael said it was a closed session of the commission, and so she couldn’t say what went on at the meeting.
“I’m not answering any question about what happened inside of the management commission meeting,” she said.
Michael said she accepts Speaker Ross Wiseman’s ruling that it was inappropriate for her to hold Dunderdale responsible for decisions made by an all-party committee of MHAs, over which the premier doesn’t have any direct control.
Liberal House Leader Yvonne Jones sits on the management commission, and she said she was surprised Monday when she heard Michael’s question, because she said everyone at the Feb. 28 meeting voted unanimously for those budget cuts.
“I think it’s very hypocritical on anyone’s part that you can sit at one table and agree on something, and then walk into another forum and disagree and challenge your counterpart on it,” Jones said.