21 December 2015

Mr. Speaker Osborne #nlpoli

Members of the House of Assembly had the good fortune of having two fine candidates for Speaker.

While SRBP endorsed Scott Reid, the House made an excellent choice in Tom Osborne. Tom is the longest-serving member in the House having first been elected to the House in 1996. He held a number of cabinet portfolios in the first Williams administration before crossing the floor to sit as an independent. he eventually joined the Liberal caucus.

Osborne brings considerable experience to the job, plus he brings a reputation for fairness and integrity. He is well-liked and widely respected.

Reforming the House was a key part of the Liberal platform, so Osborne has quite a task in front of him:
Respecting the House of Assembly 
Liberals respect the House of Assembly, and like all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, expect it to be open, transparent and accountable. 
A new Liberal government will ensure the House of Assembly functions properly by amending the House of Assembly Act to set a proper schedule for House sittings so important issues are raised and questions are answered in a timely fashion. 
Other amendments will be required to schedule sessions in an election year and ensure there are no obstacles preventing the House from sitting for longer periods when deemed necessary. 
They will also implement a review of the standing orders of the House to reform any outdated standing orders and improve the functioning of the legislature. 
Encouraging cooperation 
Liberals are committed to modernizing the province’s legislative process and engaging elected representatives from all political parties. 
A new Liberal government will make better use of existing committees and seek opportunities for further nonpartisan cooperation. 
Establishing Legislative Review Committees
Legislative review committees are well-established in Canada at both provincial and federal levels. These committees review proposed legislation, offer amendments, and call expert witnesses to provide information. 
They are an effective way to strengthen the role of elected members and reduce unnecessary partisanship in legislative debates. 
A new Liberal government will establish legislative review committees for all government departments. 
Establishing an All-Party Committee on democratic reform 
This committee will consult extensively with the public to gather perspectives on democracy in Newfoundland and Labrador, and make recommendations for ways to improve. 
The committee will consider a number of options to improve democracy, such as changing or broadening methods of voting to increase participation in elections, reforming campaign finance laws to cover leadership contests, and requiring provincial parties to report their finances on a bi-annual basis.