Roger Fitzgerald is undoubtedly one of the most incompetent Speakers ever to hold office in the House of Assembly.
He is also one of the blatantly biased Speakers to hold the chair.
That’s saying something given his chief rival for the ignominious historical achievement is his predecessor, the pompous, biased and incompetent Speaker Harvey Hodder.
As if his bias an incompetence weren’t enough, Fitzgerald displayed naked contempt for parliamentary practice recently by turning up at not one but two partisan events.
He showed up at a Conservative nominating meeting during the recent federal election. Not content with that bit of churlishness, anyone attending the recent provincial Conservative coronation for Kathy Dunderdale could see Fitzgerald hanging out with his buds.
Fitzgerald proved his bias and incompetence again on Tuesday with an unprompted ruling that a word was unparliamentary.
Here’s the way Hansard recorded his intervention during a session when his patron, the Premier, got increasingly hot under the collar over questions about why she is trying to hide aspects of the Muskrat falls deal from public scrutiny:
There has been language used in the last two days in Question Period by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition which is clearly unparliamentary when she references a certain type of economics and references a member’s name describing that process.
I ask the hon. member, that in the future if she would be kind enough not to be using unparliamentary language and reference her questions in a different way.
The word Roger didn’t like was “dundernomics.”
Opposition leader Yvonne Jones used it exactly once during question Period on Tuesday.
The facts are recorded in Hansard and as such, it is an unquestionably accurate rendering of the proceedings. The House of Assembly, like all Westminster style parliaments, has judged it so.
To be fair to the Speaker, there is no defined list if what words one can or cannot use in the House. Parliamentary practice in Canada, though, holds that unparliamentary language means the:
use of offensive, provocative or threatening language in the House is strictly forbidden. Personal attacks, insults and obscene language or words are not in order.
Dundernomics is not obviously in any of those categories.
The word – used just once, you will recall – did not disrupt proceedings or increase the heated temperatures in the chamber, the sort of result one might expect to bring a Speaker’s intervention.
And Fitzgerald certainly couldn’t object – as he apparently did – because the word uses the name of a member of the House. As others have pointed out, Fitzgerald stayed rooted in his spot for years as Tory after Tory after Tory violated the century old (at least) parliamentary tradition to mention a certain member by name and to praise every portion of his anatomy as if he embodied the second coming of the Divine One.
Fitzgerald’s continued presence in the chair is an insult each day to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. His performance is an ongoing display of contempt for parliamentary democracy.
- srbp -