August 7, 2017
For Immediate Release

Major Unanswered Questions:
Opposition Says House Should Be Open Longer Than a Half-Hour

Paul Davis, Leader of the Official Opposition, said, “If the House of Assembly reconvenes on Tuesday, August 8 for the election of a new Speaker, it should remain open longer than the half-hour it will take to elect a new Speaker.”

“It will be costly for the House to reconvene for this half-hour session. In order to get better value for the public money this will cost, the government should allow the House to remain open for more than that half-hour so that pressing questions can be asked of the Premier and his Ministers,” said Davis.

“The pressing questions include whether the Premier remains committed to the fiscal agenda of the former Minister of Finance; whether the province remains on track to meet its fiscal targets this year given oil prices, the exchange rate and other factors, or needs to adjust course; whether the province will respect the court’s decision regarding an environmental assessment of the Grieg aquaculture project proposal; whether and when the Premier will commission a thorough start-to-present forensic audit of the Muskrat Falls project; when the oversight reports on the Muskrat Falls project will be released; when the fisheries investment fund agreement will be finalized so the money can flow; what the plans are to implement the recent recommendations on mental health and addictions, and educational outcomes; how this province is preparing for marijuana legalization while other provinces are expressing concerns and taking action; and so forth,” said Davis.

“There are provisions in the Standing Orders for the House to sit longer, if the government permits it to. The Opposition parties cannot extend the sitting, but the government can. And it ought to consider doing so, to allow the questions people are asking to be answered on the record in the House,” he said. “There is still leftover legislation to be debated, along with a private member’s resolution on tourism that the government caucus didn’t get to move. Even if it’s just for a single day with a single question period, it would be preferable to nothing.”

“Our Caucus intends to vote ‘no’ if the motion to adjourn is made once the Speaker is elected and the Deputy Speaker and the Deputy Chair of Committees are appointed. We believe sending members back home after such a brief session is not only a waste of money but a waste of an important opportunity to hold the government to account,” he said.

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Media Contact: Heather MacLean, Director of Operations and Communications
Office of the Official Opposition (709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca