June 11, 2002
Minister announces special sitting of House of Assembly
Government House Leader Tom Lush today announced that the House of Assembly will reopen Monday, June 17, for discussion, debate and ratification of a Statement of Principles for the development of Voisey�s Bay.
Minister Lush also announced, in consultation with the premier, that government will propose that the procedures used to discuss and debate the Meech Lake Accord in 1990 be employed during the special debate on Voisey�s Bay. In 1990, the House of Assembly adjourned for one week prior to commencement of a three day debate on June 20, 1990.
"The premier has indicated his support of the procedures used during the Meech Lake Accord debate," said Minister Lush. "The Government is pleased that the Official Opposition supports the adoption of the Meech Lake approach as indicated on June 6, 2002. The procedure followed in 1990 provided a consultation week for all MHAs."
The minister said: "The one week period between today, when the deal was brought forward, and the opening of the House, will give MHAs time to consult with their constituents so they can bring accurate and representative opinions and information to their debate in the House. When the House convenes next week it will be for one parliamentary week and, as was the case during the Meech Lake, there will be extended sittings to provide sufficient time for debate and discussion of the relevant issues around the tentative agreement."
If the session proceeds along the lines of the Meech Lake Accord, Routine Proceedings could be suspended to allow that the entire sitting time be allocated for discussion of this most important issue."
Media contact: Janice Lockyer, Communications, (709) 729-1341.
The following is a copy of a letter sent by Premier Roger Grimes to Danny Williams, Leader of the Official Opposition, and Jack Harris, Leader of the New Democratic Party, to make arrangements for the debate ratification of the Statement of Principles for the development of the Voisey�s Bay Project:
Mr. Danny Williams, M.H.A.
Mr. Jack Harris, M.H.A.
Dear Messrs. Williams and Harris:
On May 14, 2002, I gave a clear commitment in the Legislature, to the people of the province that the Liberal Government will convene a special session to present the Statement of Principles before the House for a debate and ratification vote.
I write today to discuss arrangements for the upcoming House of Assembly sitting that will debate ratification of the Statement of Principles for the development of the Voisey�s Bay Project.
Government is proposing that the procedures used to discuss and debate the Meech Lake Accord in 1990, be employed during the special debate on the Voisey�s Bay Project. In 1990, The House of Assembly adjourned for one week prior to the commencement of a three day debate from June 20, 1990 to June 22, 1990.
I was pleased to note that the Official Opposition supports the adoption of the Meech Lake approach as indicated in correspondence received on June 6th, 2002.
The details of a Statement of Principles have been released to the entire public of the Province today and I encourage you to instruct your caucus members to join with your government colleagues to ensure a full debate on the merits of the Statement of Principles.
In an effort to follow the precedent set in 1990 I am proposing that the Legislature remained adjourned until Monday, June 17th (the same time as applied in 1990). This will provide all Members with an opportunity to consult with their constituents as they deem appropriate.
With respect to the Official Opposition request for more money, I point out that the significant changes in funding for MHAs over the last ten years has provided all Members with additional constituency funding and much more discretion to spend on constituency related matters. I suggest that members today have the sufficient funds and discretion that was not available in 1990 to consult with constituents.
Finally, I would remind you that I was the first political leader in our province to propose, and commit to, a free vote for our Members several weeks ago. I sincerely hope that you will provide similar freedom to your caucus members.
Therefore, I propose we reach agreement to convene the Legislature next Monday, June 17th, for a special debate and ratification vote on the Voisey�s Bay Project Statement of Principles. I propose that the discussion and debate be along the parameters of that employed during the 1990 special debate. Under these procedures, one parliamentary week with extended daily sittings ought to be sufficient time to provide for discussion and debate. In order to facilitate preparations for the debate I am including the Resolution that will be presented to the House.
I would suggest that our House Leaders meet and finalize plans along these lines for the upcoming session. I am also attaching a draft Resolution for the upcoming debate.
2002 06 11 2:35 p.m.