A wild fall sitting of the House of Assembly has come to a close, with politicians and the people of the province looking to move on after harassment allegations rocked the House of Assembly.
Premier Dwight Ball says despite dealing with allegations of bullying and harassment laid against two of his former cabinet ministers – Eddie Joyce and Dale Kirby – he’s glad to see it was still a productive sitting of the House, from a legislative standpoint.
“Going into this, many people would have said that the thing we were dealing with around harassment and bullying were getting in the way of government doing its business."
“But this session has been very productive. Dealing with the harassment and bullying charges that were laid, we were still able to get a lot of work done in this session – nearly 20 pieces of legislation.”
— Premier Dwight Ball
Some highlights of the legislative agenda included extending presumptive coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder for workers in the province, allowing leave for people suffering from domestic violence, and solidifying rules around ambulance operations in the province.
Ball says he can only hope the House and the people of the province can move on from the uglier parts of the sitting.
“I think it takes time. When you look at situations like this, being unprecedented … it was kind of being educated on the fly in a lot of ways,” said Ball.
“We have learned a lot of lessons from this. My objective is not to see this happen – to see people acting appropriately. Do we get there in the first step? I don’t know. But we learned a lot.”
Meanwhile, Ball says to expect the Topsail-Paradise byelection to be called after Christmas. He also says he is not planning for a spring general election.
Opposition House Leader Keith Hutchings says he knows all MHAs learned a lot from the sitting.
“I think people were ready to have it addressed, in terms of some of the behaviour in the parliament,” said Hutchings.
“There needs to be a clear pathway ahead, that if someone feels there’s been harassment, that there’s a clear and transparent way for that to be dealt with.”
Hutchings is one of five members of the Privileges and Elections Committee, which filed an interim report during this sitting as it works toward a legislature-specific harassment policy.
New Democratic Party Leader Gerry Rogers shared her Christmas wish with reporters following the final sitting of the House of Assembly for 2018.
“My wish is that those people in our province who want to be able to stay, who want to be able to continue to make Newfoundland and Labrador their home … can find meaningful work, where they can afford to stay here,” Rogers said.
“That’s my biggest wish for this province right now.”