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Letter: House of Assembly spring sitting full of missed opportunities

House of Assembly, Confederation Building, St. John's.
House of Assembly, Confederation Building, St. John's. - SaltWire Network

Despite the best constructive efforts of our caucus, during this past Spring session of the House of Assembly we saw a litany of lost opportunities for the people of the province.

With unemployment nearing 20 per cent, our party proposed all members of the House work together on an All-Party Select Committee on Jobs. Government chose to ignore that proposal, yet they have not presented a concrete plan to address job losses in a sustainable way.

We also asked government to fix outstanding labour disputes, like the long and bitter DJ Composites strike in Gander. Even though they could, government wouldn’t.

In the last days of the session government introduced its long promised All-Party Committee on Democratic Reform. We were happy to support this motion, as it is desperately needed. But government didn’t follow through, the committee was not formed, and it is now unlikely there will be any democratic reform in this province before the 2019 election.

The people of the province deserve better.

 All MHAs are elected to represent their constituents in the House. They all have a lot to offer and they should be heard. Government ignoring good advice is what led to the disaster that is Muskrat Falls.

All of us in this province face some pretty serious problems. We have huge challenges, but solutions are not insurmountable. It is going to take all of us working together to solve them.

These are precarious times. We need all hands on deck. Leaders from all walks of life — municipal, provincial, federal, and Indigenous — and of every political stripe, need to talk with each other, listen to each other, and more importantly work together.

There are only 525,000 of us living here in this place — smaller than the city of Brampton, Ont. Surely, we can find solutions we can all live with, Solutions that don’t force us to leave.

We need to do politics differently. I fought hard to bring the issues surrounding mental health to the forefront of debate in this province. I convinced government to form an All-Party Committee on Mental Health and Addictions and we all worked together – Liberal, Tory and NDP – to come up with a plan to better serve those who struggle with mental health issues. While there is plenty of work still to be done, I think so far we have done good work. Politics done differently.

This summer I am going to be travelling the province, like the leaders of the other political parties, visiting regions and talking with people. Please take the time to reach out to me, and to the others, and tell them what you think needs to be done to address the issues which face us all in this province. Tell them – and me – of your hopes, your fears, and ideas.

It may sound odd coming from the leader of a political party, but we have to learn to be less partisan, more propositional, and better able to both listen to each other and work together.

Surely Muskrat Falls has at least taught us that.

Gerry Rogers

Leader, NL NDP

MHA, St. John’s Centre

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