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LETTER: Two simple questions for our leaders and MHAs

There will likely be many familiar faces seated in the chairs of the House of Assembly after the next provincial general election.
The Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly. - SaltWire Network

The start of a new session of the House of Assembly will be an opportunity to change the focus and tone of MHAs’ behaviour in the House. I have a challenge for the three party leaders and two independent MHAs.

The House of Assembly conducts the business of the people of this province. MHAs pass laws that tell us what we must or must not do. They levy taxes and approve budgets detailing how our tax money is spent. They pass acts covering the programs and services citizens receive from government.

Our province is at a critical point in our history. We’re deeply in debt. Our economy is weak. Our population numbers are in a long-term trend of decline. The fallout from Muskrat Falls will present enormous challenges to families, businesses and government.

The people’s business is serious business, and every MHA has an important job to do.

We need all 40 of our MHAs focused squarely on the serious and important challenges we face.

If any of them can’t keep that focus, then they are not worthy of the job of MHA.

Unfortunately, for years, MHAs have treated the people’s business as anything but important and serious.

The tone of question period and “debate” in the House is often an embarrassment, the focus on scoring cheap political points rather than substantive exploration of issues and problems.

Cat calls, jeering, heckling, name calling, blaming, and blame-avoidance.

On top of that, some MHAs seem to think the House is a comedy club, where their goal to get a few yuk-yuks from their own party members at the expense of members on the other side of the House.

So, my challenge to Dwight Ball, Ches Crosbie, Allison Coffin, Paul Lane and Eddie Joyce is to answer two questions. To improve the quality, depth and tone of debate in the House of Assembly what do you (and for the three party leaders, their answer should cover every member of their caucus): 1. Commit to doing? 2. Promise never to do?

If any of the party leaders and independents address these questions, I hope they answer sincerely, clearly (i.e., no bafflegab), and in the public media so voters can hold them accountable if they don’t live up to their words.

Bill Duggan,
Torbay


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