Even if you have a job you absolutely love, there are probably aspects of that job you don’t enjoy.
The nasty bits might only be a tiny part of your job, but you still avoid those things like the plague. It might be a once-a-month maintenance task that is tedious and dirty. It might be some occasional paperwork that eats up a day and serves little purpose.
For Premier Kathy Dunderdale, it would seem opening the house of assembly is that one pesky aspect of her job she likes to avoid.
It’s not like the house of assembly has ever taken up that many days. Go back to 1996. There were 57 days that the house of assembly was in session.
In 2004, when Danny Williams first became premier, they sat 58 days. And that was after it was decided to give MHAs Fridays off.
Admittedly, the house of assembly can’t be much fun for the party in power. It’s where their opponents get the chance to stand up in public and question everything they’re doing, point out perceived faults, and just generally hold them accountable for their actions.
Nevertheless, it is absolutely necessary.
Even as leader, there are some basic tenets of democracy that have to be followed. The rules of conduct for opening the house may not have been enshrined in law, but they were understood. The people of the province gave the Dunderdale Conservatives a mandate to serve the province, not carte blanche.
When defending the decision to keep the house closed, Premier Dunderdale said she had issues with the quality of debate in the house. She said opposition can get up and say what they like, without concern for the truth.
Instead of answering to these alleged lies, Premier Dunderdale has chosen to shut the whole operation down. If there was little concern for truth in an open house of assembly, there is absolutely no form for truth in a closed one.
Now the MHA for Burgeo-La Poile, Andrew Parsons, is proposing a private members bill that will legislate House of Assembly openings. He wants to legislate what was a basic part of this province’s democracy. Not a bad idea.
It’s too bad that suddenly seems like its necessary. It’s too bad his bill, if and when he gets to table it, will be easily voted down by the majority conservatives.
If a government isn’t even interested in keeping up the appearance of maintaining a free and open democracy, it’s time to sit up and take notice.
— Brodie Thomas