Today, the Gallant government put the squeeze on democracy in New Brunswick. After sitting for only two weeks since before Christmas, the government house leader moved to adjourn the House until March 29. And the government’s proposing that we sit for only three more weeks before the summer break. Yes, committees will meet, but that is no substitute for the legislative sittings.
The main function of the legislative branch of government, the Legislative Assembly, is to enact laws and to exercise control over government action. You don’t have to believe me. This is exactly what it says on the Legislative Assembly’s website.
The checks and balances on executive power, the power of the Premier and his cabinet, in our Westminster form of parliamentary democracy are vested in the Legislative Assembly, in the legislative arm of government. That is why the Legislature’s own website says its role is to exercise control over government action. If the Legislature is not open, the only checks and balances on executive power are inoperative.
As for enacting laws, the Premier is fond of saying he wants the opposition to propose solutions to our challenges. He wants us to work collaboratively. I have introduced four bills and had two more to introduce to propose real solutions. If the Legislature only sits for three more weeks before summer, only one of my bills will make it to Second Reading. And my motion to establish roles and responsibilities for MLAs will not be debated. So much for wanting solutions. So much for enacting laws that offer real solutions.
Over the years, Premiers and their cabinets have usurped so much authority from the Legislative Assembly, that the job of the Legislative Assembly is regarded as a mere formality, like role of the Lieutenant Governor. This has to change and as Leader of the Third Party in the Legislature – the Green Party, as the MLA for the people of Fredericton South, I am determined to do everything I can to reclaim the authority of the Legislative Assembly to breathe new life into our deteriorating democracy.