It is all over!
The first sitting of the 47th General Assembly of the House of Assembly wrapped-up one of the longest sittings in recent memory yesterday. MHA's sat for 52 days!
It was a poor session for the government whose slide in the public opinion polls has been buttressed by the poor showing of the Official Opposition. It is clear, that given a viable option, the Progressive Conservatives could be in quite a bit of trouble.
The big winner, the NDP, who continue to grow in terms of public support and validity as the de-facto opposition in the province, if not the only viable alternative to the governing Progressive Conservatives.
The Government knows, from mining the polling data, that the public are eager for change, but the Liberals are not even on the radar. They also know that the current Official Opposition Leader is not making a blip on the political radar. He is considered a dud, a non-starter. The NDP are picking up strength, but long held stereotypes appear to make them a great choice for the role of opposition, but not a conscious choice for government. They need to work on convincing the public that they understand public finances. That leaves the Progressive Conservatives in the default position.
Over the session a few people shone.
The Most Valuable Player Award goes to the young, eager and fair Liberal MHA for Burgeo - La Poile. The Deputy Opposition House Leader, Official Opposition Critic for Justice;
Education; Advanced Education and Skills; and Child, Youth and Family
Services may be a rookie, but he showed veteran maturity, dedicated compassion, intellectual finesse and fine debating skills. If there were a handful of Andrew Parson's in the House of Assembly, I am convinced that there would be a lot less partisanship and a lot more co-operation.
The top tory, by a stretch, Premier in waiting, Fisheries Minister, Deputy House Leader, Darin King. Yes, I have been a bit rough on him for his arrogance over the past six months, but he clearly has the confidence of the P.C. caucus as the successor to the throne. King is the person to beat.
My choice for top New Democrat performer is St. John's North MHA, Dale Kirby who has brought a refreshing mix of dogged determination, a back to the grindstone work ethic, intelligence and independence to the legislature. Like Parsons, the unflappable university professor is a rookie. The Opposition Critic for Education; Advanced Education and Skills; Status of Persons with
Disabilities; Youth Engagement; Labour; Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission; Labour Relations Agency does not have the political apprenticeship, grooming and coaching that Parsons has access too, Yet, he manages to incite the bleacher creatures on the government benches (and blackberries) to near pandemonium. Like, King, Kirby is a leader in waiting.
Three other MHA's of note:
PC MHA & Deputy Chair of Committees Steve Kent. The top party propagandist received rave reviews, from all parties, for his performance in the Speaker's Chair over the session. The Mount Pearl MHA earned lots of respect for his impartiality and fairness.
The unflappable St. Barbe MHA, Liberal Jim Bennett is Opposition Critic for Fisheries and Aquaculture and Innovation, Business and Rural Development & Chair of the Public Accounts Committee. The rookie MHA has burned out a couple of fax machines since being elected. Hardworking, dogged and focused, Jim is the great white shark of the Legislature. I can not wait to see what he does with the public accounts committee!
St. John's NDP, MHA George Murphy. The most recognized name in provincial politics, The NDP critic for Municipal Affairs, Environment and Conservation and Transportation and Works showed a maturity, focus and depth that made him one this session's top performers.
With a bunch of PC's getting ready to retire, the legislature could be quite a different place come next March.
I have to keep in mind that this was just the first session of a potential six before the next general election rolls around.
A day in politics is like a year. Anything can happen, a lot can change.
There are a few certainties. The Liberals desperately need a charismatic leader if they are going to get back in the game; The Progressive Conservatives know that Dunderdale is a one term Premier - the race is on to replace her; and the NDP are facing an inevitable leadership race at a crucial time. Tick-Tock!
Politics is never dull on the rock!