N.L. legislature goes from nearly worst to nearly 1st
After a somnambulant stretch that saw it settle near the bottom of national attendance rankings, Newfoundland and Labrador’s house of assembly rebounded near the top of the list in 2012.
Politicians sat in the legislature for 73 days over the course of the year — more than double the 33 days they spent there in 2011.
That’s according to statistics maintained by the Parliament of Canada.
The Progressive Conservatives came to power in 2003 highlighting the importance of the legislature.
The party’s blue book of campaign promises pledged to “restore the house of assembly to its rightful place as the ‘People’s House.’”
But for most of the Tories’ term in office, the “People’s House” sat vacant.
Between 2004 and 2011, Newfoundland and Labrador’s house of assembly sat, on average, fewer than 45 days annually.
That ranking was second worst among all provincial legislatures, ahead of only Prince Edward Island.
After winning the October 2011 provincial election, Premier Kathy Dunderdale was critical of spending time in the house.
The legislature remained shuttered until the following spring.
From 2nd worst to 2nd place
But the poor attendance changed in 2012.
There were two significant opposition filibusters — one on Bill 29, which slashed public access to government information, the other on enabling legislation for the Muskrat Falls power project.
But even before those filibusters stretched the end of the spring and fall sessions, the house was open for weeks longer compared to previous years.
The 73 days spent in the legislature in 2012 was the most in nearly two decades.
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