In the House of Assembly, they can’t stop talking. As of press time, they’ve been going for well over 30 hours, and unless something happens in the wee hours of the morning, politicians will still be in the House this morning.
Due to a procedural quirk of the House, it is still officially Tuesday for MHAs, since a “day” in the legislature doesn’t end until politicians take a break.
Government House Leader Darin King told reporters Wednesday afternoon that the filibuster would keep going until opposition politicians run out of things to say.
“We’re here to debate the bills, and we’ll stand as long as the opposition feel they have questions to ask and want to contribute,” King said. “We’re prepared to provide whatever information we need to do.”
The legislation relates to the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project. Two critical laws will essentially exclude the project from the purview of the Public Utilities Board, enshrine a wholesale electricity monopoly for Nalcor and allow for expropriation of land for electricity transmission lines across Newfoundland.
New Democratic Party Leader Lorraine Michael accused the government of engineering the filibuster to happen the week before Christmas when people aren’t really paying attention.
“The government is the one who has set this up. I think it is absolutely reprehensible that they set this up for this week,” Michael said. “They knew what they were doing, and they have to wear the responsibility for what’s going on.”
The way things are going, there’s a very good chance the House will sit until Christmas Eve.
Liberal Leader Dwight Ball said people probably aren’t paying very close attention, since it’s right before Christmas.
“This decision really lies in the lap of the government,” Ball said. “Obviously, people’s minds are in a different area this time of year. I mean, I don’t think there’s people at home glued to their TV sets watching House of Assembly proceedings.”
King said this wasn’t planned by him. He said he only got the two critical pieces of legislation from Natural Resources Minister Jerome Kennedy Monday.
He also said everyone is struggling to make it through, getting “tired and a little antsy.”
King was operating on three hours of sleep when he spoke to reporters.
But he also said as long as debate keeps going, he’ll keep going, too.