Cheers: to legislative debate at its very, very best. Here’s the honourable finance minister, Jerome Kennedy, showing his clear grasp of parliamentary procedure, while NDP MHA Gerry Rogers presents a petition from some of the province’s citizens. Rogers: “We are talking close to 2,000 job cuts — the disappearance of close to 2,000 jobs. This is not just jobs but it is people’s lives. In light of this budget, in light of the budget that cut so many social services, it is imperative that we have access to information about core mandate reviews on which these decisions were made, that we have access to …” Jerome Kennedy: “Liar.” The Speaker: “I would ask the minister of finance if he would stand and apologize for his unparliamentary language.” Kennedy: “I withdraw the comment.” The Speaker: “I ask the minister to stand and apologize to the House.” Kennedy: “I apologize.” Kennedy knows the rules, knows the language is unacceptable, even knows he has to apologize, not withdraw. Here are some other words: deliberate, insolence, ignorance. Apply them as you will.
Jeers: to comedy. Before the government officially announced that it planned to use its mystery $90 million to help Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, NDP Leader Lorraine Michael had already winkled that information out of Jerome Kennedy in a committee of the House of Assembly. But he did not offer up the information happily. “These questions you are asking certainly put into jeopardy everything that’s going on… I can tell you your questions today jeopardize the agreement.” Match that up with Kennedy’s own statement from last June: “Corner Brook Pulp and Paper is on the verge of bankruptcy. … The liabilities are enormous.” So, what’s more dangerous to a business? Revealing that a company is about to get massive support from the government, or announcing to the general public — and anyone who might be owed money by that company — that the business is about to collapse?
Jeers: to more comedy. So, Wednesday was private member’s day in the House of Assembly, the one day of the week when MHAs can introduce issues important to their constituents. This week? Glenn Littlejohn, PC MHA, raised the critical issue of needing to pat his own government on the back, with this resolution: “Be it resolved that this honourable House commends the government for returning half a billion dollars a year to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians by reducing personal income taxes, and supports the government in its decision not to increase personal income tax rates to address the province's fiscal challenge.” Okey-dokey. Here’s PC MHA Kevin Parsons: “Mr. Speaker, I have a lot more here to say, but I would like to just stop by saying that I am so proud of this government and I am proud of the road we are taking. … There is a few bumps along the road, but guess what? We will get over them bumps and our province will be a whole lot better place because of the budget stuff that we have brought in this year and the decisions we have made.” Then PC MHA Paul Lane: “Thousands of jobs because of investments, Mr. Speaker. … We are stemming that tide. Our population is not decreasing anymore. … It is now starting to increase … in this great economy that we have created as a government, Mr. Speaker. … This premier is guided by her principles, and I will stand beside this premier and this government any day to defend all the great things that we have done and continue to do in Newfoundland and Labrador.” You get the point. There’s an afternoon’s worth of legislature time we’ll never get back.