On May 16th, the House of Assembly rose for its summer recess. Barring some legislative emergency which would require a rare recall, MHAs will not be back at their seasonal jobs until well after Remembrance Day.
(Nice work, if you can get it: The average MHA earns, in salary, per diems, and other compensation, over $100,000 a year.)
Only twice since 1988 has the House risen on an earlier date, in 2000 and 2003. This chart shows the duration of the spring sitting, with its end date marked by the right-hand end of the bar:
#FormerPremier Danny Williams was well known for the disdain and contempt with which he regarded the legislature that he volunteered to be elected to. It would be hard to out-Danny Danny Williams on this front. But congratulations are due to the Dunderdale2011 Party: they have accomplished it.
Then again, why bother keeping the House open, when there is nothing for the overpaid seasonal workers who inhabit it to do? The Dunderdale2011s have introduced just five bills at First Reading this spring, by far and away the thinnest legislative agenda on recent record. This chart compares the number of government bills at first reading in each spring session since 2000:
Following the 2011 election, Kathy Dunderdale took flak for not re-opening the legislature sooner. (See Thanksgeaster)
She defended her decision, telling the Telegram in October 2011:
The Dunderdale2011 Government is a party out of ideas, out of leadership, out of talent, out of steam, out of gas, out of agenda, and, as becomes more apparent with every passing day, out of time."You just don't pull up legislation and go into the House of Assembly with it," Dunderdale said."You're enacting laws that are going to have a direct impact on people's lives. So you need to do a whole due diligence process around that to make sure that you're doing the right thing, and you've got to bring them through all these cabinet processes and so on."Dunderdale said opposition parties always complain about not getting legislation early enough to scrutinize it properly, but now they want the government to rush things through to further their political agenda."What is it do you want?" she asked. "Do you want legislation well-prepared or do you want us to think seriously about the impacts that this is gong to have? (Like), is there is a sentence here that could be written one way and we think it means one thing but it could be interpreted another way and have a detrimental affect on people?"Dunderdale repeated a statement ruling parties often make – governments open the House, oppositions close it. She noted no opposition has tried to keep the House open in the last eight years."You've got all kinds of mechanisms to keep the House open and they are negotiating with us to keep it closed. It's a matter of saying one thing, but doing something else altogether. The House is not for you to advance your political agenda or give you a platform. That's part of what happens there, but that's not the main reason that we go into the House of Assembly. It's the legislature. We bring in legislation."
Not even halfway through a third majority term, they are done. They are finished. The only race left to watch is the one to determine which which combination of party and leader will position itself to administer the merciful final electoral blow.
Five bills, twenty-two days, and a summer recess that started before the snow is even off the ground.
The Bull Sheets of 2003, 2007, and 2011 are heavily populated with unfulfilled committments and broken promises. Various "strategic plans" sit gathering dust on shelves, or are retroactively re-interpreted to support whatever omissions or commissions the government is now called upon to defend. When provoked, the Dunderdale2011 Minister of Justice – whichever fool occupies that job this month – will complain that he hasn't had time yet to "study" and implement his party's and former leader's solemn 2007 pledge to bring in provincial whistleblower protection legislation without delay.
And yet the Dunderdale2011 caucus is populated with sycophantic, overpaid, undertalented bumpkins who spend their time goading opposition members and sympathizers with the combination heckle and hash-tag, "No Plan".