Late on Tuesday night, the government — that is, the machinery of government — issued a hyperpartisan press release that one can only hope the PC Party reimbursed the people of the province for:
The Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Health and Community Services, is expressing her frustration and disappointment that the Opposition is delaying implementation of an important piece of legislation designed to benefit every Newfoundlander and Labradorian.
“We are attempting to have a productive and informative debate in the House of Assembly on the bill titled An Act to Amend the Pharmaceutical Services Act and the Opposition is continuing to delay proceedings,” said Minister Sullivan. “Their tactics are delaying implementation of this significant legislation that will result in lower drug prices for our residents.”
The new generic drug pricing policy will provide savings to residents who pay for their medications out-of-pocket and to employers and employees who pay through private drug benefit plans. The policy will also provide savings through the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program.
“I am disappointed that the Opposition refuses to debate this bill on its merits and instead resort to fear mongering, especially among seniors of our province,” added Minister Sullivan. “The people of the province can rest assured that we want Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to receive quality generic drugs at reasonable prices. Right now we are paying more for our generic drugs than many other Canadians. Despite the Oppositions’ actions, our government will continue to explain the benefits of this legislation and focus on implementation of our policy for the betterment of all our residents.”
For the record:
At the start of the debate, one of the official opposition MHAs recused himself from debate, in order to avoid both a real and potential conflict of interest. He also happened to the Leader of the Opposition. (Pop quiz: when was the last time any MHA recused him- or herself from debate on ethical grounds?)
During the first day of debate on the bill, after it was called at second reading on Monday, other members of the official opposition spoke 11,303 words in debate, while NDP MHAs spoke 4,294 words. Government MHAs and Ministers spoke 10,351 words.
In Hansard for Tuesday, the governing Tories took the lead, speaking 13,306 audible words in debate, to 10,602 for the Liberals and 4,065 for the NDP. In other words, 48% of the talking-out on the bill came from the mouths of government members.
And that's only until 7:00 p.m., when the House recessed.
Moments later, at 7:05 p.m., Minister Sullivan's department used government resources to issue a snotty, sarcastic, and partisan press release.
Later that evening, the House continued in an evening sitting. That portion of the proceedings is still not incorporated into the day's Hansard, but, as recorded for posterity in the Twitter stream of the entire legislative gallery, the evening sitting featured the remarkable sights and sounds of a government effectively filibustering its own bill.
That would be the bill which the House is only seized of now, after a six-month Thanksgeaster break that the government gave itself after the last election.
There were no motions on the part of the opposition parties. No procedural trickery. No kazoos.
The only "delay" in passing the legislation was that the opposition, finally, exercised its right, and indeed its obligation, to actually legislate. To speak to a measure before the legislature. To do the job that they, and, for that matter, the government MHAs, volunteered for and were elected to do.
No, Minister Sullivan, like the rest of her government, suffering, as they do, from a now-obviously terminal case of Conservative Persecution Syndrome, were not upset that the opposition were "delaying" anything.
They are upset, and outraged, that any opposition, despite their best efforts, continues to exist at all.