14 November 2008

No sense of shame

From a news release by government House leader Joan Burke in an announcement that the provincial legislature would re-open for its fall sitting on November 25th:

The sitting of the legislature is an important part of our democratic process.

Yes it is.

Well, it would be if the opposition didn't have to shame Burke into making an announcement.  In past years, the party house leaders shared information informally so that they could be properly prepared to engage in, as Burke puts it, "productive session with respectful and healthy debate on the legislative agenda".  That's a pattern of non-partisan co-operation that dates back decades in the legislature.

Word from the hallways of the legislature is that so far Burke has shown her opposition counterparts the same regard as she's given to the Memorial University Act, the Memorial University board of regents and senate and university president Eddy Campbell.  Her approach so far is pretty much in keeping with her small-minded approach to funding the opposition parties, well at least the Liberal one.

No indication would she give of when the House would open and so far no advance warning, in confidence, of what general areas would be coming up for debate.  No indication that is until after opposition House leader Kelvin Parsons issued a news release pointing to "a continuous trend developing in this province that our current government will wait until the absolute last minute to open the legislature and then rush towards closure in the shortest time possible."

Still no word on the legislative agenda apparently nd Parsons is likely not holding his breath.  Burke will probably let him know a couple of days beforehand.

Seems that Burke is playing the petty partisan game just as roughly as her boss does, but then again, contempt  - whether for the traditions of the House or the legislature itself - is a hallmark of the current administration since it first took the government benches in 2003.

That's what makes Burke's references to the democratic process such a nose puller. 

Expect the session to be shorter than normal, since the opposition is likely going to be pushing the government hard.  Under the circumstances, given the stress from the financial hard times cabinet is wrestling with and given that Burke herself will come under scrutiny for her hand in the Memorial University mess,  the government's real lack of regard for the legislature and the democratic process will shine through.

After all, that's what happened in December 2006 when they last faced some serious problems.