Misguided actions

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On Tuesday, the Speaker of the House of Assembly asked NDP MHA Gerry Rogers to apologize for doing something that she clearly did not do. When she correctly refused, she was thrown out of the House.

Here’s the gist of the complaint against

Rogers: without her knowledge or consent, someone she did not know added her to a Facebook group called “Kathy Dunderdale must GO!!!” Meanwhile, someone else in that group made a suggestion that threatened Premier Kathy Dunderdale.

The threats are certainly unacceptable, but the connection to Rogers is tenuous at best. The process is pretty simple: people can simply click a mouse and add you to a group. You may find later that you have been listed as an opponent of a seal hunt or a supporter of a particular mayoralty candidate. You might not have known anything about it.

But that doesn’t mean someone won’t turn it into political fodder.

Government House Leader Darin King rose in the House in great umbrage, announcing “Mr. Speaker, the point of privilege that I want to speak to is indeed very serious. It is perhaps, in my tenure in this House, one of the most serious points of privilege that I have ever seen.”

First, for even raising the issue, King demonstrated once again government’s misguided actions.

Here’s some more of his comments: “I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the group and the members of that group of which there is a member sitting in this House today who is endorsing and supporting that — threats to her life and threats to her home, implicit in that are threats to her family, to her children and her grandchildren. That, in my view, is reprehensible and totally, totally, unacceptable; not just for the members of this House, Mr. Speaker, but I believe for the members of the general public who are watching at home and who pay attention to politics.”

Second, for ruling that Rogers had to apologize for something she did not do, Speaker Ross Wiseman demonstrated that in this case either he is unable to understand the concept of privilege, or else, and perhaps more seriously, any vestige of impartiality on his part is gone.

After all, he himself said, “There is no evidence that the member made actual comments on this site that would directly connect her to the offensive statements.”

Yet he ordered Rogers to apologize.

If someone signs Darin King or even Premier Dunderdale up to “Kathy Dunderdale must GO!!!” will Wiseman force them to stand and apologize?

If the answer is “no,” then we have far more serious problems in this province than Facebook groups.

Geographic location: Government House

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Recent comments

  • Jay
    April 20, 2013 - 08:19

    “There is no evidence that the member made actual comments on this site that would directly connect her to the offensive statements.” Even though Ross wiseman found no fault like pilot he said who do you want to crucify Dunderdale or Rogers all government members shouted Rogers.Despicable.

  • Stephen D Redgrave
    Stephen D Redgrave
    April 19, 2013 - 09:13

    Another great article, The Telegram is on a roll today. "Mr speaker, you may advise our house leader Mr King that the public is most definitely paying attention to politics" It is embarrassing to read Mr Kings words knowing he represents our population on the global stage. Clearly, Mr King and Kathy Dunderdale do not represent the average Newfoundlander. They don't come close. When words are spoken before thought, this is a treatable disease. We have the power to end this nonsense. In the words of Jean luc Picard...Make it so!

  • Travis
    April 18, 2013 - 13:18

    Everone here must be over 40 with no idea how facebooks website works. I I add you as a friend and you accept but I hate you I can add you to any group I please which happened here. I don't expect a bunch of fossils here to understand.

  • Cyril Rogers
    April 18, 2013 - 11:29

    Ms Rogers, if prudent, would have stepped away from any involvement or association with this group but the only person who should be held accountable is the person or persons who made the threats. I am extremely critical of this administration most of the time but would never stoop so low as to wish any personal harm to the Premier or any of her colleagues. Their reaction, though, was completely off-base and but one more example of the profound lack of judgement and total disrespect they are showing for opponents. The Speaker made a contemptible ruling and I am one of many who feel he has become even more hyper-partisan than his predecessor. The honourable thing for him to do would be to resign....as he has lost the ability to be impartial. This incident shows yet again the childish, immature nature of this whole administration and is another reason why I have such little faith in their ability to pilot the Muskrat Falls deal through to completion. It may happen, but, as I have stated ad nauseum, it will be to the grave financial disadvantage of this province. This group is offering no leadership and are selling this province out in the interests of big business.

  • Bryce Wrightly
    April 18, 2013 - 10:32

    So Gerry Rodgers doesn't know what groups or beliefs she's endorsing in a public medium. The people of St. John's Centre must be thrilled at the level of representation.

  • Kev
    April 18, 2013 - 09:12

    Over supper tonight, announce to your family that under no circumstances will you ever vote PC again. Your voting age family members are free to make up their own minds. But let them know where you stand. Start a conversation like that and in 2015 the PC party will be a thing of the past.

    • Too Funny
      April 18, 2013 - 10:44

      Done that back in 2003 with the Liberals. I don't think it really accomplished anything.

  • wavy
    April 18, 2013 - 08:59

    The details and fall out of this latest debacle by the Blunderdale PCs are astounding and disturbing to say the least. They have sunk to a new low in what can only be described as a monumentally disasterous tenure at government; it has been an implosion and collapse of truly epic proportions. Still waiting for Darin King, Ross Wiseman and Kathy Dunderdale to apologize to Gerry Rogers. I think Ms. Rogers should sue for slander and libel.

  • FrankNL
    April 18, 2013 - 08:35

    If Gerry Rogers is guilty, anyone and everyone on Facebook is guilty. The offensive comments were made on Facebook. All members of Facebook are guilty, if we accept Speaker Wiseman's decision, and this government's logic.

  • Face It
    April 18, 2013 - 08:22

    This isn't a problem with social media. Its a problem with the premier and her not wanting to be held accountable and her inability/willingness to communicate effectively to the people.

    • Bryce Wrightly
      April 18, 2013 - 10:34

      If accountability is the problem, shouldn't Rodgers be accountable for what she endorses on facebook?

  • Goodness me
    April 18, 2013 - 08:16

    Just another reason to remain anonymous in the online world.

  • Tory Firetruck Blue
    April 18, 2013 - 08:10

    I heard what darin king said during the tories attack of Gerry Rogers. If you play the audio of Hansard back words then we can hear the real meaning of what darnit king was trying to get to. We hear it from the Backbenchers, that have nothing else better to do, every day.

  • Jean
    April 18, 2013 - 07:18

    We have an even worse problem when "social media engagement" staff were retained at full pay while prosecutors, sheriff's officers and wildlife workers were laid off. It is an indication of how horribly skewed this government's priorities are if they consider Twitter to be more important than either justice or the environment.