Proceedings are back underway in the province’s House of Assembly today, but the usual guest of honour for the throne speech won't be there.
© — Telegram file photo
The House of Assembly
Normally, the House is opened by the Lieutenant Governor’s speech from the throne — a ceremony where the government, through the Queen's representative, signals its legislative agenda.
But this year, the speech will not be that of the Lieutenant Governor —it will be delivered Chief justice Derek Green.
Government House would only say that Lt.-Gov. Frank F. Fagan is away for personal reasons.
That means Green will assume the role of “administrator” — the title that judges take on when filling in for the lieutenant governor — which is uncommon but not unheard of.
The lieutenant governor has been missing in action at least five times since Confederation. Administrators delivered throne speeches in 1952, 1955, 1957, 1972, and 1973.
This lands Fagan in a club for officials with either inconveniently poor health or inconveniently timed travel plans. This is because this speech is delivered every year in mid-March.
So this year, the government's political agenda will be delivered by a judge — somebody who is normally totally politically neutral.
Christopher Dunn, a political science professor at Memorial University, said that it's an overlap from one branch of government to another, but really, it's no big deal.
“I wouldn’t see that having any practical effect,” he said. “That replacement of one for the other is usually done in cases of lack of availability of the lieutenant governor or the governor general, or sickness, or other indisposition, and I would be very surprised if that wasn’t the case with the current situation.”
Green was on hand to prorogue the legislature Wednesday morning, a ceremony done just ahead of the throne speech.
The throne speech begins at 2 p.m. this afternoon.