Crit­ics rip Grit tac­tics

Lib­er­als, in­de­pen­dent MLA ac­cused of pre­vent­ing pub­lic in­put

Winnipeg Sun - - NEWS - JOYANNE PURSAGA jpur­saga@post­media.com Twit­ter: @pur­sagaw­pg­sun

The Man­i­toba Lib­er­als are be­ing ac­cused of pre­vent­ing the pub­lic from weigh­ing in on key gov­ern­ment leg­is­la­tion Thurs­day night.

The Lib­er­als forced pro­ce­dural de­lays that ex­tended un­til mid­night that day, with the help of in­de­pen­dent Assini­boia MLA Steven Fletcher. That led pub­lic hear­ings on Man­i­toba’s Cli­mate and Green Plan Im­ple­men­ta­tion Act, as well as four other bills, to be can­celled.

Mark Hud­son said he waited for hours to speak on the cli­mate bill be­fore giv­ing up.

“Peo­ple put in time to pre­pare to give some pub­lic com­men­tary on what they con­sider to be im­por­tant pieces of leg­is­la­tion. Then they show up and then to have it can­celled ... (is) ex­traor­di­nar­ily frus­trat­ing,” said Hud­son.

Hud­son said he fears the night’s can­celled ses­sion will de­ter some Man­i­to­bans from speak­ing on gov­ern­ment leg­is­la­tion in the fu­ture.

“It sends a sig­nal ... that pub­lic com­men­tary isn’t val­ued, isn’t seen as im­por­tant, isn’t seen as a cen­tral part of the demo­cratic process and I think that’s a shame,” he said.

Lib­eral leader Dougald La­mont said his party felt forced to de­lay pro­ceed­ings be­cause the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment was pre­vent­ing de­bate on three bud­get-re­lated bills.

“Ba­si­cally, we were ex­pected to rub­ber stamp a whole bunch of huge bills where we weren’t go­ing to be al­lowed to ask ques­tions or have de­bate,” said La­mont.

La­mont also said his party wanted to al­low the pub­lic hear­ings to oc­cur dur­ing the pro­ce­dural fight but Fletcher solely voted to pre­vent that.

“We had no prob­lem with the com­mit­tees hap­pen­ing at the same time,” said La­mont.

Fletcher said he voted against that multi-task­ing ef­fort be­cause he op­poses the Tory gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to of­fer just 48 hours no­tice prior to the pub­lic hear­ings. He said he was also con­cerned al­low­ing the hear­ings to oc­cur while MLAS were still in and out of the cham­ber would pre­vent MLAS from prop­erly at­tend­ing ei­ther meet­ing.

“The gov­ern­ment wants to have as lit­tle in­put as pos­si­ble be­cause they don’t have any­thing but prob­lems with many of the bills,” said Fletcher.

But NDP deputy house leader Matt Wiebe said the whole pro­ce­dural de­lay was point­less. Wiebe said two of the bills of Lib­eral con­cern were al­ready de­bated and one is sub­ject to fu­ture de­bate.

“There’s still nine hours of de­bate that has been ne­go­ti­ated as part of our ses­sional or­der,” said Wiebe.

Gov­ern­ment house leader Kelvin Go­ertzen said he ex­pects his Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment will re-sched­ule the pub­lic hear­ings on or soon af­ter Oct. 22, when MLAS re­turn from a con­stituency week. Go­ertzen said the sched­ule for de­bate was agreed to in June, of­fer­ing plenty of no­tice to all par­ties.

“This isn’t about a lack of knowl­edge, this is about a poor po­lit­i­cal strat­egy by the Lib­er­als ... (that) cost a lot of Man­i­to­bans a lot of time,” said Go­ertzen.

WIN­NIPEG SUN FILES

In­de­pen­dent MLA Steven Fletcher, left, helped Dougald La­mont and his Lib­er­als force pro­ce­dural de­lays that led to pub­lic hear­ings on Man­i­toba’s Cli­mate And Green Plan Im­ple­men­ta­tion Act — and other bills — to be can­celled.

CP FILES

WIEBE

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