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"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Nice work

Friday morning on the Ministry of Truth, radio host No Names Please says, in connection with newly-minted Senator Fabian Manning, "A 65-day work year, that’s pretty good."

That's a reference, of course, to the number of days a year the Senate sat in 2008.

Hmm.

Between 1987 and 2008, inclusive, the Senate sat an average of 71 days a year. While it did sit just 65 days in 2008, that's largely attributable to the fact that it was an election year, during part of which Parliament — both chambers — couldn't sit at all. There have been only five other years since 1987 inclusive in which the Senate has sat for fewer than 65 days. Three were election years.

That's substantially lower than the House of Commons' average of 120 sitting days per year, or 104 days per year during Senator Fabian's brief stint as an MP.

But it's also substantially higher than the frequency with which the Bow-Wow Parliament sits.

Between 1987 and 2008, the House of Assembly sat an average of just 60 days per year. That's not only five days less than the Senate's 71-day average, it's less than the 65-day figure that No Names Please ridiculed.

In the past 22 years, the House of Assembly out-sat the Senate in only six of them. Probably not-coincidentally, all six were during the Clyde Wells years; the last time was in 1995. Also not coincidentally, the Clyde Wells year in which the Senate outsat the House of Assembly was in 1990, The Year of the Meech.

You don't hear No Names Please sarcastically sneering about that, do you?

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2 Comments:

At 8:33 PM, January 09, 2009 , Blogger Edward G. Hollett said...

By averaging the House of Assembly over such a long period you really do a disservice to members elected before 2003 and really give way to much credit to the recent crowd. They have sat, on average about the same number of days per year that Tom Rideout was Premier.

By contrast when Tom sat in the House in the early 1990s, he'd typically show up for work for twice as many days as any he sat while deputy Premier.

The most shameful period was 2007 when, if memory serves the House sat for the least number of days of any elected legislature in the country - for the first time ever.

 
At 10:33 PM, January 09, 2009 , Blogger WJM said...

Well, I wanted to level out the playing field, which meant evening out the Senate's variable but holding steady performance. Otherwise, yeah, you have a point.

So, averaging the HoA out to the pre-1996 (late Peckford and Clyde era), and the post-1995 era (Tobin, Grimes, Him), the HoA sat on average 77 days in the first class of sitting years, and 49 in the second; a loss of nearly a full month's worth of at least notional accountability. In the "post" era, the Senate outsat the HoA every single year. In the "pre" era, at least going back to 1987, the HoA beat the Senate every year.

By way of comparison, the number of annual Senate sittings in those two periods is only marginally changed; 73 before, 70 after.

And this is the crew that complains it takes so long to get legislation written, only to ram it through the House in minutes, with all-party — consent isn't the right word — complicity.

BTW, the NL HoA was the least sittiest of the provincial legislatures "for the first time", at least in the period since 1987 that I have data, in 2000 and again in 2003. It very briefly rose to fourth-sittiest in 2004, before falling to ninth in each of the next three years. Last year, it was eighth.

In two of the past three years, St. John's City Council has had more meetings than the House of Assembly has had sittings. (Last year, the House beat the council by six meetings.)

In two of the five full Danny Williams Years so far, PEI has sat more.

And, in every year since 2003 inclusive, as well as a few times in the Tobin and Grimes years, and one old election year, at least one territorial legislature has met more often than the NL House of Assembly. In 2000 and 2003, all three territories (and all the provinces) bested the HoA; in 2007, two did.

 

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