The breakdown in decorum at Province House has seemingly gotten so bad the three parties now can’t even sit down together for dinner.
The annual Speaker’s dinner scheduled for tonight had to be delayed indefinitely after the Liberals announced they were protesting the event. They said it was irresponsible to ask taxpayers to pay for politicians to wine and dine during a recession.
The dinner costs $35 for each MLA but taxpayers cover about $1,300 of extra costs.
NDP House Leader Frank Corbett said his party had no problem revising the dinner price, but he questioned the Liberal motives.
“The Liberal Leader (Stephen McNeil) put his position out saying he was trying to save money. It’s a good thing he cares more about $35 than $45,000,” Corbett said.
The house leader was referencing the NDP decision to eliminate a $45,000 no-questions-asked payment to MLAs when they leave office.
Opposition parties were sore over the decision because they said they read the news in the press before getting confirmation themselves.
The Tories announced yesterday they wouldn’t have attended the dinner anyway in protest of the NDP not being open with the other parties. Both the Tories and Liberals are angry about not getting early notice of bill briefings or consultation with the premier.
McNeil said the government hasn’t exercised “any level of cooperation.” Casey said the NDP “have not offered us the same courtesy we offered them.”
This all came to a head yesterday in another heated question period that has become par for the course this fall.
Premier Darrell Dexter chalked it up to growing pains and said his government is working on increasing co-operation.
“We’ve got a lot to deal with here,” Dexter said. “We have difficulties with health care. We have an economic crisis that is still unfolding. And I would hope that the focus of the house would be those things.”