I really do not wish to overload Polemic & Paradox with posts about provincial politics, or the goings on in the House of Assembly. However, it is hard to ignore the machinations, manipulation and contempt for informed debate on Bill 42.
I have worked in and around the House of Commons and the House of Assembly since 1988. Over that time I have amassed a great deal of knowledge about parliamentary procedure, standing orders, committees, members statements, amendments, the passage of bills and petitions.
I have a great deal of respect for the traditions and rules of our Westminster System of Government which accepts that all members of the house are honorable members.
Yesterday, I felt that three backbench members of the Conservative Party misled the house by fraudulently presenting petitions allegedly showing public support for the government's rushed approach to gutting representation in the House of Assembly.
Tracey Perry, Glen Little and John Dinn were directed to gather a few names from around their office and presented these petitions as proof of the public's support for the government's ill timed tampering with the Electoral Boundaries Act.
The Telegrams's political reporter James McLeod provides a very informative look at these half-baked petitions on his blog today. If you get an opportunity, I hope you read it because it illustrates the contempt that the Conservatives hold for the people's house.
What bothers me is that petitions are a form of direct democracy. They are the equivalent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians asking a question in Question Period. The government is obliged to listen and hopefully respond.
Petitions provide the public with an opportunity to spread the word about concerns related to government. Petitions are a vital parliamentary tool. They allow a group's collective voice to be heard in the legislature and throughout the province.
The behavior of the three "honourable members yesterday" was contemptible. When they got caught the Premier's office quickly tried to find an example where the opposition did the same thing by providing Mr. McLeod with an incomplete document. Amateur city. More manipulation by the keystone cops of Newfoundland politics.
If you wonder why politicians are held in such disrepute you need go no further than this example of manipulation in the House of Assembly.