Tories target Bill 1

James McLeod
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Opposition plans to submit amendments to bill creating independent appointments commission

The Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly is on Easter break for two weeks, but when MHAs return, Premier Dwight Ball can look forward to some suggestions on how to improve Bill 1.

Steve Kent

Bill 1 is the new Liberal government’s signature transparency and accountability policy — an independent appointments commission which Ball has promised will “take the politics out of government appointments.”

Neither the Tories nor the New Democrats think Bill 1 lives up to the hype, but Tory MHA Steve Kent said the Opposition is going a step further — preparing a suite of amendments to the bill to fix some of its most glaring problems.

For starters, while the legislation calls on the appointments commission to submit three names to cabinet for final approval, Kent says the Tories will submit an amendment to rank those three names.

“If you truly want the best person for the job, then you should put a process in place that identifies the best person for the job. If you’re selecting the next CEO of Nalcor, submitting three names without ranking and letting cabinet pick doesn’t seem like a logical process at all,” he said.

“Odds are, they won’t in every case be three equally qualified people. Of course not.”

The Tories also want to see an annual review of the independent commission to ensure it is respecting merit principles for its selection process, and they want to make sure the five-year review of the legislation is made public.

“Bill 1 calls for a review of the act every five years that would only be sent to cabinet,” Kent said “So in the interest of openness and accountability, an amendment needs to be made so that the review will go not to cabinet, but to the speaker of the House for public release.”

This will be an early test of how the Liberals conduct themselves in the House of Assembly.

Under the previous Tory government, accepting opposition amendments to legislation was a rarity, especially on significant matters of government policy.

In the first couple of weeks of Liberal control in the legislature, though, there have been signs that the current crowd plans to do things a bit differently.

And when Kent raised the possibility of proposing amendments to Bill 1 in question period earlier this week, Ball didn’t exactly slam the door shut.

“We look forward to the debate on the independent appointments commission,” Ball said. “We will certainly be entertaining — as we would completely expect that the members opposite would come with ways to improve that bill. If we see that during a good, robust debate there are ways to bring improvements to any piece of legislation, of course we'd consider all those things.”

Kent said that even if the Liberals do entertain amendments, he’s not optimistic about the appointments commission.

“Overall, it’s ironic that this new entity is being named the independent appointments commission, because first of all, there’s nothing independent about it, and secondly, it is not empowered to make appointments whatsoever,” he said.

“I feel like in some ways, we’ll be trying to put lipstick on a pig. This is flawed, poorly thought-out legislation, and it’s simply window-dressing.

“It’s simply about the Liberals trying to make good on an election promise that wasn’t well thought-out.” Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: House of Assembly.Under

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Recent comments

  • Spaz
    March 29, 2016 - 10:05

    Kent has zero credibility on anything.

  • Sgrey
    March 28, 2016 - 11:23

    The PC Government is full of patronage appointments just look into Worker`s Comp and the family members there. The CEO the head of the adjudication department are family and the head of the Board is well over his five year appointment and a friend. I brought this to Mr. William`s attention with documented proof. No response he quit.. I was also able to defunct the Labour Board with these family members. All this will be being brought to this well over due Boards attention. I have already made the Liberals aware of these appointments and will bring in evidence that was presented to previous government.

  • Muggins
    March 28, 2016 - 10:07

    Kent may be right to call out the liberals on Bill 1, which takes us all for naive fools, but he needs credibility to do this. He has none.

  • tom
    March 28, 2016 - 09:56

    Sure lets just give the Liberals a big pass on everything, especially their election long as they're not Tories sure who cares if they do the exact same stuff. Thank you opposition. Perhaps you'll do a better job than Dwight did in holding the government accountable.

  • Sam
    March 27, 2016 - 12:29

    Anything the Liberal party does will be a major improvement as compared to Mr. top secret Steve Kent. This guy is nothing short of a bad joke.

  • Dolf
    March 26, 2016 - 14:28

    What Kent says makes sense, pity he didn't employ that same sense when his dictatorial government rammed thru Bill 29. He's the worst kind of hypocrite.

  • jim
    March 26, 2016 - 13:51

    We've heard what is wrong with the bill, but nothing about the Board that will be set up. How many people. at what cost and who will do the appointments to the Board?.

  • Darlene
    March 26, 2016 - 12:55

    Really Stevie why didn't you do this when you were in power...enough said...

  • reality check
    March 26, 2016 - 12:17

    tories got a nerve...they should hand their heads in shame for at least the first 2 years of ht e new government. ALL problems we have right now are from their governing days.

  • Brad
    March 26, 2016 - 11:17

    Go awa Scouter Steve.

  • Political Watcher
    March 26, 2016 - 10:02

    Yeah, good luck with that Scouter Stevie! Like anything you guys say will mean anything to anybody.

  • Poor Richard
    March 26, 2016 - 07:51

    While I don't agree with Mr Kent on many issues , on this one he has a valid point. Bill 1 seems to take an approach akin to many union agreements which is to identify three individuals who meet the minimum qualifications and let cabinet choose amongst the three even if one stands "head and shoulders" above the other two. A prime example of the endorsement of mediocrity. At least the current system makes little pretense of anything other than what it is i.e. subject to political input even if does not happen in all cases. This latest solution wants to disguise no real change in the flag of transparency and accountability -sad, really sad,

  • Randy
    March 26, 2016 - 01:55

    Does anyone believe, or for that matter care, about what Steve Kent says?

  • sealflipper
    March 25, 2016 - 20:44

    If only davis and side kick kent had been open and honest in running the govt when they were in power they would still be the govt. But to tell the present govt how to do things when they listened to no one is hippocratical to say the least.