Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shaking up Queen's Park

One method for judging the importance of a government is by counting the days they are in session. In June, Queen's Park broke for the summer 3 weeks early to help bury the 'slushgate' scandal. The excuse at the time was that parliament had accomplished everything they needed to do. Since that time, there has been an election and the legislature sat for a total of 2.5 weeks before going on winter break. The break is officially scheduled to end on March 17th. Sources have indicated that parliament will be called back early and resume sitting on February 25th.

Today the government announced that they will be form a comitee to look into replacing "The Lord's Prayer" which is recited everyday to open parliament. It no longer reflects the multicultural demographics of the province. While having some merits for a review it is ironic this change is being introduced by the same government that blasted funding faith based schools, while supporting the status quo of funding Catholic Schools.

On Sunday, the government indicated that they are interested in making Parliament more appealing to parents with small children. They plan to eliminate night sittings and start having sessions on Friday. They also want to address the problem of time being cut short on question period due to procedural matters and allow more debate time for private members bills.

They have proposed moving question period to first thing in the morning. Currently MPPs have staff who's job it is to brief them on issues that may come up in question period. By being prepared both the government and opposition are able to serve the public interest with intelligent debate. Using the full time allocated for question period helps serve this purpose. If parliament is unprepared to ask or answer questions properly it is of very little value. Hopefully, they will move question period to the early afternoon with the other details worked out, so that this time can be used effectively.

The government has had essentially 10 months to prepare for a full session of parliament. Hopefully they will use the time to focus on the addressing the needs of the province and not tinkering with parliamentary procedures.

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