The Need for an MLA Code of Conduct

The video and transcript of oral questions are recorded in the language it was originally spoken.

M. Coon : Il y a plus d’un an, j’ai déposé une motion qui avait pour but de préciser les rôles et
responsabilités des parlementaires et d’élaborer un code de conduite à leur intention. Ma motion a été adoptée à la Chambre et acheminée au Comité permanent de la procédure, des privilèges et des hauts fonctionnaires de l’Assemblée pour qu’il élabore une proposition pour étude. Ce comité ne s’est pas réuni. Le premier ministre va-t-il finir par demander au président du comité en question d’en convoquer les membres pour qu’ils se mettent enfin au travail?

Hon. Mr. Doucet: Look, we thank you for the information here today. Thank you for bringing it
to the floor of the House. Certainly, we take all that information into consideration. We are a government that wants to be as transparent as possible and to get as much information out into the public view as possible. However, by the same token, we bring all the information that the leader of the third party brought forward in the motion that he put on the floor. At the same time, we, as a government, are working toward that. All our Cabinet ministers, the government, and all our MLAs are working toward that code of conduct. There were some very good points that the member brought forward in the past, and we will work toward that. This is something that we, as a government, will work toward. We cherish that very dearly.

Mr. Coon: The motion was adopted, so it is, in fact, a resolution of this Legislative Assembly. It is very clear why it should move forward quickly. In his report on Atcon, the Conflict of Interest Commissioner recommended years ago that this House consider adopting a code of conduct for members. More recently, the member for Campbellton-Dalhousie found himself embroiled in a conflict-of-interest controversy caused by the second job as a lobbyist that he had taken on. Perhaps if we had had a code of conduct that he could have consulted, this would not have happened. Can the Premier tell this House when the work will get under way on the code of conduct for MLAs?

Hon. Mr. Doucet: We really appreciate the member bringing this to the floor of the House. With
regard to the information that he is bringing forward, we are working on that. The work is ongoing. We hope to bring something forward so that we can have a discussion at some point in time. However, as I said, we want to be as transparent as possible. We want to have the information out in the public domain—anything that the people are looking for. We value the information that has been brought forward by the member of the third party, and we are
definitely going to work toward that. The work is ongoing at this point in time.

Mr. Coon: The resolution adopted by this House was to have a standing committee put together
a proposal for us to consider, and that standing committee has not met. On October 27, in fact, the government issued a press release that listed a series of initiatives that it has taken which it claimed supported transparency and accountability, which it claimed would improve the functioning of the Legislature.
Among the initiatives listed was creating an all-party legislative committee to draft a code of conduct for Members of the Legislative Assembly. However, this is something that has not happened, despite the adoption of my motion by this House as a resolution to direct the Standing Committee on Procedure, Privileges and Legislative Officers to draft a proposed code of conduct for members assembled in this House to consider. The government should not be claiming credit for carrying work that has yet to take place. When will committee work begin on the MLAs’ code of conduct?

Hon. Mr. Doucet: Again, we appreciate the information that the member has brought forward to
the House. We appreciate that he has brought it to the floor in the past. We are taking that into consideration. The work is ongoing at this point in time. The work is ongoing. We will present it at some point in time. However, the bottom line is that we want to be as transparent as possible and we want to get the information out in the public domain. To the member opposite, we appreciate his bringing that to the floor.