06 March 2012

New partners and new supplicants #nlpoli

After the throne speech, the leaders of the opposition parties get to have their say in the legislature.

Just as the throne speech sets the government’s agenda, so too can the replies set the agenda for the opposition parties. They could be committed to biting at the government’s heels and demonstrating, as one former opposition leader put it, that the public could toss out the incumbents and trust the Opposition with the government at the next election.

Liberal leader Dwight Ball, the official opposition leader, offered a few “thoughts as we collectively work together to secure a brighter future.”

The rest of his speech covered health spending,  search and rescue and a handful of other topics all of which fit with the government’s agenda very neatly.  Any differences – on things like the fishery, for example -  were more cosmetic than substantive.

So with Ball basically pledging to be a partner for the ruling Tories, what of the New Democrats and Lorraine Michael?

Well, Lorraine talked as though she didn’t have a caucus.  There were plenty of references to what Lorraine had said before.  There are a great many “I”s in the NDP team.

But most telling of all, was Lorraine’s reversion to her old approach, of the supplicant going to authority to beg favours:

What we are asking for, Mr. Speaker, is very, very basic.

What they are “asking” for.  Not what they are working for.  Not what they will push for and not what they will do when they form the government.

No, as they did during the election, the NDP want to ask for things from those in power.

So with the Tories pledging to stay the course,  they can count on a new partnership with the Liberals as the NDP come on bended knee to ask for something or other.

Anyone in Newfoundland and Labrador will have to look somewhere other than the House of Assembly if they want new ideas. 

As for those clamouring for democratic reform, they could put a dozen new committees in the House.  Since none of the elected members seem to have any idea what they should be doing with them, democratic reform will have to come from somewhere else as well.

- srbp -