MLAs pull all-nighter in bid to pass bills before holidays


 


« The sad part about all of this is that not much really has happened.They were arguing all night long that they need more time to argue the bills. »

 

 



Strong black coffee and pizza were on the legislative menu yesterday as weary politicians rammed through a marathon session of democracy, aimed at passing a plate full of bills before Christmas.



As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the Stelmach government had entered its 22nd hour of non-stop debate, many of it circled around Bill 46, a contentious piece of legislation that has landowners and consumer groups fearful that their democratic rights have been stripped.



Despite Opposition party tactics to delay the bill, which splits the approval of energy and utility projects into two separate regulators, the Tories shut off debate and approved the legislation around 3 a.m. yesterday.



Tory MLA Thomas Lukaszuk, who stayed up all night, said the exercise was a waste of time since the Liberals spent most of the evening needlessly stalling and prolonging debate.



"The sad part about all of this is that not much really has happened," he said.



"They were arguing all night long that they need more time to argue the bills."



Laurie Blakeman, the Liberal house leader, said her party had no intention of letting the government ram though the agenda without a full and open discussion.



"They’re very annoyed with us because we used a tool that was available to us," she said. "They use their own tools all the time, like closure."



During the marathon session, the province also passed legislation that will create a lobbyist registry and give new powers to health-care facilities to force mental patients into receiving treatment.



Police forces have also been given the power to use "speed-on-green" photo radar, a program that will allow red-light cameras to perform double duty as speed traps.



The house also skipped daily question period and their lunch break the next morning, and some MLAs came prepared with pillows and blankets.



Finance Minister Lyle Oberg called the whole experience "absolutely ludicrous" as he re-entered chambers with a large black coffee.




steve.lillebuen@metronews.ca