07 December 2005

Controlling every little thing

These changes to the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador Act are curious if only for the fact they are entirely unnecessary.

The Order was created to honour outstanding contributions by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to their province. The selection committee consisted of a number of people, including the Chief Justice of the province and the President of Memorial University.

These two positions are now eliminated, supposedly to be replaced by two members of the order.

Unfortunately for Premier Williams explanations in the House of Assembly, his amendments to the legislation don't say that.

They simply reduce the advisory council to a committee comprising the Clerk of the Executive Council (appointed by the premier) and seven other people (also appointed ultimately by the Premier).

In any event, since the original Act didn't specify who was appointed beyond the Chief Justice, the Clerk and the university president, the government had plenty of opportunity to apppoint who they wanted or to amend the legislation to add to the council.

The switcheroo pushed by the Premier looks entirely like what it likely is: the Premier wanted to get rid of some people he didn't like and get personal control over as many appointments as possible.

At least in some instances - like the offshore board - the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will have qualified people appointed by a process the Premier can't gerrymander.

That doesn't stop the Premier from moving to control every little thing in the province.