Jan. 23, 2015
NDP Leader outraged at subversion of democracy
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi) says that while she was concerned when the premier announced his government’s attention to rush through legislation that reduces the number of districts in the province, she was appalled at the way Bill 42 actually proceeded through the House.
“We in the NDP caucus had said in advance we were willing to filibuster to delay this outrageous bill’s passage,” she said today after almost 19 hours of the House being in session. “As it turned out, by the end of the Second Reading stage of debate it looked like government was filibustering its own bill.”
The three NDP MHAs all spoke, according to schedule, on Thursday afternoon. After an hour-and-a-half-long dinner break, MHAs took their seats and sat in the House of Assembly until well after 4:00 a.m. as first alternating Liberal and PC MHAs, and then just PC MHAs took 20 minutes each to speak to second reading of the bill.
The amendments to the bill were presented jointly by the Official Opposition Liberals and the governing Conservatives. “The very rare occurrence of almost every MHA using the 20 minutes they are allowed to speak to second reading was explained by reports that the amendments were being written in the hallways of the Confederation Building,” Michael said.
“The legislation is flawed. The process was flawed. And despite the two major parties succumbing to pressure and adding back Labrador’s four seats, we were still completely unable and unwilling to support the bill that has been condemned by most of the province’s eminent political scientists and other experts, including Democracy Watch Canada.”
Jan. 19, 2015
NDP Caucus remains opposed to proposed electoral district changes
Today in the House of Assembly, NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi) spoke out against government’s plan for massive changes in the province’s electoral boundaries.
Immediately following the premier’s surprise announcement last week, Michael said the changes were “flying in the face of democracy” and announced her willingness to filibuster in order to delay passage of Bill 42 for as long as possible. One of Michael’s concerns is that the Electoral Boundaries Commission is being told the number of seats it should define.
“The Premier has told the people of this province that he is going to reduce the number of electoral districts to 38 from the current 48,” she said in the House today. “Coming up with a new number of districts is a complex process that takes a lot of time.
“I ask the Premier who did they consult with in order to come up with this very specific number? Or did they just pluck it out of mid-air?”
Michael believes there should have been extensive public consultations before the number, or even a range of numbers as the Liberal leader is proposing, was given to the Boundaries Commission.
A key concern about Bill 42 is representation for Labrador. The current legislation dictates four seats for the region. On Thursday, both the premier and the Opposition Leader said they would leave it up to the commission to decide. While the Opposition Leader has now reversed his stance on the matter, the NDP says it is important that those four distinct districts remain in the legislation.
“The Premier has said he will let the Electoral Boundaries Commission decide if Labrador will keep four districts. Labradorians already feel marginalized and not fairly represented,” said Michael.
“I ask the Premier, will he commit to protecting these four districts so Labradorians can be fairly represented and their voices heard?”