Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Legislature Wrap Up

The legislature will wrap up its spring session for 2010 yesterday. It's worth noting that the first spring session of the last majority government lasted 52 days. This session has lasted 32.

It's been suggested to me I should end with a bit of humour. So let's start. A Liberal, NDP, and Tory MLA walk into a bar.... OK Just kidding.

By now you should know I am terrible at telling jokes so I won't even bother. But I will give out my awards for this session:

"Most Irritating Technology"

Twitter. I got roped into the world of Twitter this year and I have yet to be convinced that reducing our every thought to 140 characters is a good thing. That being said, it does have some entertaining moments. Reporters from various news agencies have been falling all over themselves to see who can tweet the sessions of the house best. Paul McLeod of the Metro certainly got the leg up on the gang being the first out of the gate with regular tweets during question period. He has nicknamed new Tory MLA Allan MacMaster as the "Teen Heart Throb", and delivered a play by play for a war of words during Question Period between MacMaster and Finance Minister Graham Steele. Yes I will remain on Twitter. Aren't you all thrilled?

"Most Interesting Direction of Question To A Minister"

During question period opposition members must tell the speaker who their question is for. On the last day of the session, it was amusing today to watch Tory MLA Chuck Porter ask a serious question about Motor Vehicle Carrier inspections by the Utility and Review Board. When Graham Steele said he had nothing to do with it, Porter began his follow-up question with "Mr. Speaker this question is to whatever Minister wants to answer it".

"Best Sign Of Things To Come"

Over on the NDP benches, there have been more than a few NDP ministers referring to Liberal MLAs as ministers during question periods throughout the session. A sign of things to come I am sure.

"Worst Failure To Pass Along A Message"

Who can forget this session when the Premier announced a ban on bottled water in government offices. As the details came out it turned out the ban was much less a ban, than a reduction in some offices under some conditions. The most amusing thing was that the Premier did not think to let his Minister of the Environment know and the minister walked into a scrum with media and when asked about the water bottle ban, he indicated no ban was planned.

"Best Fish Tale"

When Liberal MLA Junior Theriault tells a story, he goes all the way. During a debate on whether drilling should be permitted on Georges Bank Junior regaled the legislature with a story about fishing on Georges Bank and finding God in a storm he thought he'd never get out of. The story was so compelling it was played in full on CBC's Information Morning.

"Best Excuse To Go Home Early"

One of the things you quickly learn as a member of the legislature for the first time is that since the spring session largely mirrors hockey season, you can guarantee that when there is a playoff game the parties suddenly work together to get the day's business done in time for the dropping of the puck. This was ever more true this session with the heated rivalry between Sidney Crosby's Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens.

"Oddest Earth Day Announcement"

You sometimes have to wonder about the timing of messages and whether anyone looks at the calendar first. Whether you personally agree with the Coyote bounty or not, it seemed more than a little strange to announce a coyote cull on Earth Day. Couldn't the government have waited a day? Next year bumper stickers "Celebrate Earth Day - Kill A Coyote". Yet to be announced, new divorce regulations on Valentine's Day.

"Christmas To Come Award"

I have yet to decide whether this is a good thing or not, but the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Bill Estabrooks, has decided he is Santa Claus in his new job where he has the power to dole out paving contracts for roads, especially in rural areas. It created a situation in the last week or two of the session where anyone who wanted a road paved would be especially kind to the minister during Question Period, often saying what a wonderful minister he is. I guess we haven't come quite as far as we might have thought when it comes to the role of politics in paving of rural roads.

"Deja Vu Award"

This award goes to every single member of the legislature of any party who reads a resolution that is almost identical to one read previously by another member - especially when it was done on another day. I always found it funny when an MLA gets up to read a resolution on an issue which has previously been dealt with. I guess it's to get your name on the record - but please, next session, table the resolution. No one will ever know.

"Best Public Statement Against Own Party"

Allan MacMaster has to win hands down on this one. During debate on the Financial Measures Act, Tory MacMaster got up and congratulated the Finance Minister for taking action to rein in pensions and cancel automatic indexing. Only problem was his own party leader had previously spoken against the changes. Needless to say the Finance Minister was thrilled with the support from the Tory benches.

"I Don't Want To Be In Cabinet Award"

Despite the fact there are clearly members of the government benches who will stand up and say how wonderful every government decision is as they angle to get a cabinet post, there are a few NDP backbenchers who have apparently decided they aren't interested. A few of them have been tabling petitions against their own party positions on things ranging from biosolids to the proposed convention centre. Not only are the petitions tabled - which arguably is simply representing their constituents - but some have gone so far as to bring spokespeople from organizations opposing current government policy to the legislature to be introduced to the public - and the media.