22 January 2014

Shifts and Changes #nlpoli

Kathy is going.

Tom Marshall gets to quit politics as interim Premier.

That’s if the reports on Tuesday night hold through Wednesday morning.

Here are some quick observations:

Timelines: Brian Peckford resigned in January 1989 and the Tories managed to have a delegated leadership contest done by April.

There’s no reason the current Conservatives couldn’t deliver the same thing.  It would be an administrative stretch but it can be done.

Budget:  Constitutionally, the House must meet once a year to vote supply to Her Majesty. 

That doesn’t have to be this spring, but putting it off beyond May or June would be very difficult.

In 1989, the Tories went to the polls right after the leadership and planned to have the House sit immediately after.  As it turned out the House did sit in May but the Tories were on the other side of the House by then.

Timelines II:  Lots of people are talking about fixed election dates. Section 3.1 of the House of Assembly Act says:

3.1 Where the leader of the political party that forms the government resigns his or her position as leader and as Premier of the province before the end of the third year following the most recent general election, the person who is elected by the party to replace him or her as the leader of the party and who is sworn in as the Premier of the province by the Lieutenant-Governor shall, not later than 12 months afterward, provide advice to the Lieutenant-Governor that the House of Assembly be dissolved and a general election be held.

The wording isn’t crystal clear but it looks like the elected replacement has up to 12 months after his or her election to call the next election.  There’s no limit on how long someone can sit as an interim Premier while the leadership runs.

Take it a step further.  The Conservatives have to shift the October 2015 date anyway.  They could move it sooner or they could move it to the spring of 2016.  In Canada,  we can have up to five years between elections.

Short answer:  the window to call the next election is huge.  There’s no way of definitively predicting when it will be right now.  It could be as early as the spring of 2014 or as late as the spring of 2016.

Royally shagged:  Lorraine Michael has been busily rigging the leadership review so she’d win.  Now she and her party will have to struggle to hope they don’t get crushed in the rush to get rid of the Conservatives.  Lorraine should call Peter Fenwick and ask how it feels to get run over by a bus.

Shoes to fill:   Being at the top of the polls, the Liberals will have to beat off candidates with a stick.  The Tories won’t be so blessed and they have a huge number of seats to fill.  Most of their caucus will not be running again.

Premier Tom Marshall:  The idea of an “interim” Premier is a recent political invention.  The first one in this province was Beaton Tulk.  Neither Beaton nor Kathy when she was interim Premier met the House.

Tom Marshall might well be the first placeholder Premier to meet the House, unless the Conservatives can get their leadership show done by April/May.

Payback:  Drop the writ. 

Starting on Wednesday, the Liberals should drive the message that the Conservative leader and every Conservative government decision is illegitimate because he or she is living off a borrowed mandate. 

Drop the writ. 

Call an election.

It’s the only way for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to get the government they want.

Every day the Conservatives delay dropping the writ is another day of their illegitimate rule.

Let’s see what line they do use.