Tuesday, February 14, 2012


The Liberals say the proposed 60/40 split of Question Period with the NDP will enable them to get the first crack at the new stories of the day. The new arrangement reflects the NDP's new numbers in the House of Assembly but it entrenches their third party position.

The two opposition parties have agreed to divide the current 30 minute daily allocation for questions to the government. The Official Opposition will get the first 18 minutes and the third party New Democrats will get 12 minutes. The parties would like to see question period extended by fifteen minutes daily.

Liberal leader Dwight Ball says the new arrangement reflects the New Democrats showing in the last election where they picked up four new seats for a total of five, one less the the Liberals.

Ideally, an extended question period with sequential questions might be more favorable for the New Democrats, who will not have much of an opportunity to be the first to raise the burning issues of the day with government. Instead, they will have to pick over the carcass of many issues after the Liberals have fed.

I would have expected an arrangement where the Liberal Leader might lead off with three questions, followed by two from the Leader of the NDP. This back and forth might have given the the NDP a better opportunity to raise issues, as opposed to be seen to be following the Liberal's lead.

In effect we will now have two mini-question periods. One that lasts 18 minutes - a show down between the Liberals and the government and another that lasts 12 minutes featuring sparing between the NDP and the government.

I would have much preferred sequential questioning and perhaps the addition of a late show, a second question period in the last half hour of the day. Considering the relatively short sittings of the House of Assembly, the truncated timing of Question period and the lack of a committee system, the twin question periods would provide the government with more of an opportunity to be transparent and accountable.

The final decision on the composition,and length, of Question Period will rest with the speaker.


Wm. Murphy said...

Too Bad Mr. Ball and the Liberals can't seem to use basic arithmetric when adding the number of days gov't promised to release a wait time report.

Do these guys in the Opp Office have a clue??...this is really embarrassing and incompetent

Jay L said...

The federal system of Leader of the Opposition, Leader of the 3rd Party, Leader of the 4th Party, Leader of the 5th party, then everyone else seems a bit fairer.

Conceivably, we could do Leader of the Opposition, Leader of the NDP off the top, then a couple of Liberals then a couple of NDP.

Peter L. Whittle said...

Murphy...been off with a heck of a cold...fill me in

Jay L said...

Premier promised to provide a strategy for medical wait times by 120 days in office. Liberals counted forward from the election date and released a scathing attack on the PCs for failing to provide same.

Government counted forward from swearing-in day, which takes them to next week, when they plan to release the documents.

Libs messed up.

Wm. Murphy said...


Gov't hasn't been sworn in for 90 days yet.

The Dunderdale gov't hasn't missed this deadline
What a bunch of mopes

Anonymous said...

It is a circus to begin with. The government answers the questions but the opposition keeps asking the same question rather than moving on to something else. Far as I am concerned, it is a waste of time. 30 minutes a day is enough to have to listen to.

Anonymous said...


How do you think the NDP and Liberals will fair in QP? Will it be competitive? Who has the better speakers?

Glenn said...

Sharing Question Period time with another party might strategically backfire by giving another party a platform to outperform the official opposition or even the government.

Libs should have taken advantage of their fluke of holding onto Official Opposition status, it seems like they might have thrown it away.

fairer democracy, maybe. Smart politics, definitely not.

Peter L. Whittle said...

The Liberals have a new slate with the exception of Yvonne Jones. Ball has some experience, Joyce is not great on his feet. Bennett has never been in the house, but has experience in the courts and with the media.

The NDP...much the same...Although I think Murphy will be loud, Kirby can be feisty and Gerry Rogers will shine in QP. I do not know enough about Mitchelmore, but he seems passionate.

I'd give the NDP better odds for a strong performance. Time will tell.

Wm. Murphy said...

What people forget is that it is Question Period...not Answer Period. Gov't does not have to answer a question....not one. Peter you should know that from the amount of briefing books you've prepared. Gov't members will dance around anything they want and people like Rogers and Kirby will lose their minds in trying to comprehend this fact.
All you have to do is trot back and have a look at past Hansard's to realize that more questions go unanswered than annswered.
Welcome to paliamentary democracy folks!!