Friday, October 06, 2006

The first disappointment

It is reported in the papers today that due to a loophole in the Legislative Assembly Act, despite losing his seat in the legislature and despite there being little work for a Speaker when a new house is not in session, Tanker Malley will remain Speaker and collect a salary until the Legislature meets to elect a replacement. The Liberals have announced the House will not sit until February 6, 2007 (slightly sooner than normal for a new government).

This is obviously something unfortunate and something one would want to avoid. However, the problem has cropped up before.

In 1999, Speaker John McKay lost his seat and rather than let him collect a salary, Bernard Lord called the House into session less than a month after election day to elect a new Speaker.

Today, faced with the same situation, rather than call the House back into session, the Liberals are going to allow for Malley to be paid to do nothing.

All MLAs were in Fredericton on Tuesday for their swearing in. It would have been very simple to have a brief session to elect a speaker and then adjourn to the prefered date at which time there would be a Throne Speech.

Why the Liberals chose not to do this, I do not know. The stated explanation is that they might change the structure of committees. Whoopty do. There is no need to appoint any committee except for the Legislative Administration Committee the first day the House sits, particularly if it is just sitting to elect a speaker.

Jody Carr goes on a rather lengthy rant saying the Liberals are breaking their promise to hold regular fall and spring sittings of the Legislature. I don't buy that, the Liberals did not choose the election date and it is not feasible to expect a new government to face the house less than a month or two after a vote. However this business of allowing Malley to be paid for no work is ridiculous.

It would be bad enough if Malley was collecting pay and still presiding over the operations of the legislature but it is worse than that. The Liberals wanted him out so that he couldn't tamper with anything, and that is fair, but they have arranged for the Clerk of the Legislature to negotiate a severance with Malley, which the paper reports is the same as his salary would be.

So, the Liberals had three options in order of preference:
  • elect a new speaker

  • allow a lame duck speaker to stay in office

  • get the lame duck speaker to step down but continue to pay him
They chose the worst option. I am disappointed.

However, in the grand scheme of things, it will cost the province $12,000 - only about 1.6 cents / New Brunswicker - so it is not a really big deal and I am sure that the improved governance of the province will more than make up for it BUT it remains disappointing.


Anonymous said...

NB politico look at the amount of money we will save on the travels of Bernie Lord to promote himself. His one trip to France would have cost lot more than $12000. However, I agree that Liberals should have held a short meeting of the legislature to elect a new speaker for PR purpose. Although you will pay to the new speaker the same amount for doing nothing.

Legislation should be brought in that a speaker's position comes to an end after an election until such time that House sits again.

nbpolitico said...

The Liberals have promised to bring in such legislation.

Spinks said...

Um, is Shawn Graham not going to travel anon? Didn't Graham send Lord to France?

Anonymous said...

Actually Shawn Graham let him go to Romania. I suppose the pity for him.

But there is a difference - travelling for the province and travelling to promote oneself. Lord is known to promote himself including his trip to France to meet the President of France pretending to be Prime Minister as foreign affairs is Federal Jurisdiction. Bernard Lord did that time and again including various attempts to meet G. Dubbya. That did turn off top mandarins in Ottawa and hence bad relations with Martin which really did not improve under Harper no matter how hard Lord tried to play Harper card.

Anonymous said...

Yes 8:44, that is exactly what Lord did.

I kept wondering, during the election campaign, if Harper would come through with funds for Saint John Harbour cleanup to help out Lord. Then I realized that Harper really didn't WANT to help Lord. His potential rival is now history. I'm hoping Graham will have better relations with Ottawa.

As for Tanker, good riddance. It irks me to see him get that $12,000, but better just to have him resign and be gone.

Then close that darn loophole--something the Tories should have done in 1999.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that the cost to have even a 1 day session to elect a new speaker would be far more than the $12000 severance Tanker is getting (even if you had this after the swearing in it still would have cost much more than 12K)

nbpolitico said...

Anon at 11:22 how do you figure? The clerks were there, the translators were there, the pages were there, how could have it cost anymore to have a brief session?

I guess they would have had to print a few hundred order papers (cost of maybe $50) and if the election was contested for the speakership some ballots (cost of maybe $25)

Spinks said...

Ah nbpolitico, that's what I like about you. You're still not so partisan that you can't see the forest for the trees. You're right, they could have gone back if the desire was there with minimal cost. Other priorities I suppose. This is small in the grand scheme of what they've been doing in the past week. By the way, who is in charge of the Legislature between now and February?

PS: Looking above, some folks or at least one anon really hated Lord. "...pity for him." WOW. Graham will send people on long expensive trips because he pities them? I don't believe that and I hope it's not true.

Anonymous said...

They would have paid at least $12000.00 to the new Speaker as well. What is the big deal? As far as Legislative staff is concerned I do not think they are little kids that they will mess things up between now and February or go for coup de'ta.

Yes Tanker could have been magnanimous and not accept $12000 but given his means even that could be understandable.

Finally, yes one does feel pity for Bernard Lord. He thought he was the emperor or at least the Prime Minister. He has not stopped being crybaby since.

Spinks said... 12:58, Shawn Graham is the kind of guy who blows taxpayer dollars for people to go on trips because he feels pity for them. Seriously?

Anonymous said...

Spinks, you are putting your own interpretations as you please. This was not a trip to meet the President of France or the President of United States. It was a Francophonie summit. Bernie loves to hobnob and he had already organized the trip before election, Graham felt sorry for the guy and let him go and that is my interpretation.

Spinks said...

Not really. That is what you wrote. I don't believe Graham is sending people on trips because of pity. I think your dislike for Lord is clouding your judgement on this issue and I'm pointing it out. You are of course entitled to your opinion and if you believe Graham pities Lord and sent him on a trip for that reason, that's fine. I just don't buy it.

Anonymous said...

OK Lord deserved to go to Romania. Lord deserved to waste taxpayers' money to visit the President of France and then later chase the President of the United States. Does that make you happy?

I do not hate Lord. I hate the way he wasted taxpayers' money to promote himself. If that please you and Lord becomes your hero for that reason then be it. You have your right to choose your heroes.

nbpolitico said...

anon - this is way off topic and not necessary. I am no fan of Bernard Lord, but let us not argue in circles about trivial things.

In terms of La Francophonie in Romania. Graham was not Premier and could not go. He had too options allow the outgoing Premier to go or send a deputy minister who would not be able to attend the high level first ministers sessions. He, obviously, made the right choice.

Anonymous said...

NB Politico I agree that Graham made the right choice. I did not raise that issue to start with. Issue was of the speaker and how money is spent or saved. Spinks kept bringing this Lord-hating stuff. No one said that he/she hates Lord as a person. Many of his actions as a premier are regrettable and that is all.

I also think that in case of Tanker Malley there were not very many choices. When House is not sitting a Speaker really does not do much. So! Either way that much money would have been spent and may be more if a new Speaker was elected prior to the sitting of the House.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind one thing...when it comes to money it is ALL up to the government. Hell, if they want to, they can pass a bill saying that NO member will be paid for the brief sitting. If they wanted to they could even say it was an 'emergency' seating so the staff at the legislature would not get paid. Most people don't seem to notice just how broke New Brunswick is, all this money adds up, and when you aren't getting anything in return, that's just bad form.