Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tuesday in the legislature

(click here for my guide to the daily proceedings of the House)

Unlike on Friday, my coverage of today's proceedings will not be nearly as detailed. Instead, I will briefly summarize the proceedings, paraphrase any zingers and offer my commentary in a much shorter post. I will continue to update this thread through the day as I did on Friday.

Statements by Ministers

Tourism & Parks Minister Stuart Jamieson (L Saint John-Fundy) made a non-political statement on the 10th anniversary of the declaration of a "provincial soil". David Alward (PC Woodstock) responded favourably, but threw in a dig about Francis McGuire and how he was against rural areas. I roll my eyes, there is lots of chance for that in members statements and question period.

Premier Shawn Graham (L Kent) announced the creation of a committee, chaired by Donald Savoie, to examine right to information and privacy laws and prepare a discussion paper which will then go to province-wide consultations. Pointed out that this was a platform commitment. Opposition Leader Jeannot Volpé (PC Madawaska-les-Lacs) responded briefly on topic and then went on at length about how the government was not undertaking proper consultations about the budget.

Justice Minister T. J. Burke (L Fredericton-Nashwaaksis) produced documents indicating that figures he had cited in Question Period on Friday was correct and that Jeannot Volpé's claims were incorrect. Volpé responded that at one point Burke had said "there was a 13.5% increase, not a 13.5% decrease" which sounded to me like Burke was just trying to emphasize the point considering in the same breath he said that there would have been a 5% decrease if the Liberals hadn't negotiated a larger 13% decrease.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ed Doherty (L Saint John Harbour) announced funding for the Tobique First Nation to create jobs including 8 addiction support workers. Rose-May Poirier (PC Rogersville-Kouchibouguac) approved of the investment, suggested similar investments be made in other First Nations, threw in a dig that she was opposed to Francis McGuire's views on rural New Brunswick and that more debate was not permitted on the opposition's Rural Economic Development Fund Act which would have helped not only First Nations but all rural New Brunswickers. Again, I roll my eyes.

Claude Williams (PC Kent South) rose on a point of order to complain that Burke's earlier statement had only been distributed in English. Government House Leader Stuart Jamieson responded that statements are only distributed if they are in both official languages and that Williams had received a copy of Burke's speaking points not meant for distribution, it was agreed that a translation would be made and distributed for the convenience of members.

Question Period

Volpé (4x) - Insurance (essentially the government should apologize for saying there would have been a rate increase if the Tories remained in office; as above, I don't think they said this)
[Answers: Burke (2x), S. Graham (2x)]

Paul Robichaud (PC Lameque-Shippigan-Miscou) (3x) - Francis McGuire (you can guess about what)
[Answers: S. Graham (3x)]
[Zinger: Robichaud said that McGuire, Graham, et al. do not care about rural New Brunswick. Graham said that the Lord Government oversaw the largest population exodus out of rural NB in history]

Tony Huntjens (PC Charlotte-Campobello) (3x) - LNG terminal in St. Croix area (saying the government has moved from total opposition to opposition only if there is an environmental impact)
[Answers: S. Graham (3x)]

Jody Carr (PC Oromocto) (3x) - Raising power rates (Liberal cuts to HST rebate, etc will make life difficult for the poor)
[Answers: Family & Community Services Minister Carmel Robichaud (L Miramichi Bay-Neguac) (2x), S. Graham (1x)]

Bev Harrison (PC Hampton-Kings) (2x) - Government responsibility and trustworthiness (said the premier admitted he was irresponsible as opposition leader, said Graham was a flip-flopper, New Brunswickers cannot trus the premier) -- these sorts of questions are completely without merit, it results in Graham making a meaningless partisan speech about his accomplishments and then a return opposition speech and back and forth, this annoys me
[Answer: Graham (2x)]
[Comment: Bev Harrison is awful in question period, he speaks with out emotion, hesitates, doesn't connect his points]

Government House Leader Jamieson rose on a point of order, said in his 15 years in the legislature he had not heard the likes of the insults coming from Volpé and Harrison and that the speaker should review the tapes and ensure they are speaking in the spirit of the traditions of respect for other members and for the House. Percy Mockler (PC Restigouche-la-Vallée) said that Education Minister Kelly Lamrock (L Fredericton-Fort Nashwaak) was mean to them too and the speaker should review those remarks.

Speaker Eugene McGuinley (L Grand Lake-Gagetown) gave a speech on the importance of decorum and how disappointing it was to hear some of these things. Said he had already asked members to avoid intemperate remarks and some of this was going on today again. Said New Brunswickers expect members to cooperate and maintain decorum. He will review tapes if he has misunderstood or is unclear on what has been said, and come back if and when required.

New Business

Finance Minister Victor Boudreau (L Shediac-Cap-Pelé) introduced a bill to implement retroactively the gas tax cut the government announced the date it took office.

V. Boudreau introduced a bill to renew the film tax credit.

V. Boudreau introduced a bill to implement retroactively the lowering of the HST to 14% in conjunction with the GST cut from to 6%.

Trevor Holder (PC Saint John Portland) introduced a bill that would cause at least 1/3 of money from the Environmental Trust Fund be spent on education about global warming in schools.

Keith Ashfield (PC New Maryland-Sunbury West) introduced a bill that would require an environmental impact assesment when explosives are used in quarries.

Old Business

Bill 10 (tax credit for firefighters)
  • Wayne Steeves (PC Albert) [startling revelation: firefighters are not just men, they are women too! He mentioned this shocking point several times...];
  • V. Boudreau [Zinger: The former public safety minister, responsible for firefighters, is introducing a bill that was so important he didn't both anytime in the past 7 years; said they will support the bill in principle but it may not be possible to give it final passage because of the financial pressure left by the previous budget];
  • Carl Urquhart (PC York) [editor's note: this guy looks amazingly like U.S. ambassador David Wilkins]; Public Safety Minister John Foran (L Miramichi Centre);
  • Human Resources Minister Hédard Albert (L Caraquet);
  • Cy LeBlanc (PC Dieppe Centre-Lewisville);
  • Supply & Services Minister Roly MacIntyre (Saint John East);
  • Alward;
  • Jamieson;
  • Harrison;
  • Lamrock... [debate interupted by the expiry of time and adjournment of the House]
My comments: This was quite cute, I see that I misjudged my Liberal friends. They seem to have been playing a clever ploy. They adjourned debate on the Conservative bills on Friday, as the Tories used to do, much to the complaints of the opposition. Today, they carried forward on debate ad naseum much to the complaints of the Tories who said the government was not allowing debate to move on to their other bills nor to the opposition day motion. Kelly Lamrock quite rightly pointed out that not only did the Tories adjourn debate constantly in the last legislature, they also tried to change the rules to block the opposition from introducing bills and the few times the opposition would have been allowed to do so debate would have been extremely limited. The hypocricy of the Tories is quite extraordinary and I am glad/relieved to see the Liberals were just looking to exploit that.

Carl Urquhart, MLA (PC York) [left] and His Excellency David H. Wilkins, Ambassador of the United States of America to Canada [right]: seperated at birth!?

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