Try, try again: Manitoba Tories blocked from tabling budget at legislature | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Try, try again: Manitoba Tories blocked from tabling budget at legislature

Manitoba premier Brian Pallister speaks to media after the tabling of his party's provincial budget was filibustered by the opposition NDP at the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. The Manitoba government is to try again today to introduce its budget after the Opposition blocked it from being tabled. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
March 12, 2020 - 3:24 PM

WINNIPEG - Manitoba's Opposition New Democrats used procedural tactics to block the release of the provincial budget for a second straight day Thursday, pushing back the delivery of the 2020-21 fiscal plan to Monday — at the earliest.

NDP Leader Wab Kinew offered a compromise at the start of the day. He said his party would let the Tory government introduce the budget if the NDP could then block the government from introducing bills, having the daily question period and other matters.

Progressive Conservative government house leader Kelvin Goertzen rejected the offer in the chamber, and accused the NDP of opposing democracy and trying to change the rules of the legislature.

"A democracy is not like a buffet where you pick a little of this and you pick a little of that," Goertzen said.

"For some reason, the Opposition wants to treat this like some kind of a dictatorship."

The New Democrats say they are trying to prevent the government from introducing about 20 bills before Tuesday — the deadline to table bills in order to have them passed into law before the summer break.

Kinew said his party has the right to stall legislation that could impact labour laws and public schools until autumn.

"I think Manitobans should be afforded at least six months to consider what may be some very dramatic changes," Kinew said.

Reporters and many interest groups are already aware of the budget's contents, having been in an embargoed briefing Wednesday. But they are not allowed to reveal them until the budget is tabled in the legislature, which will not resume until Monday.

The NDP have managed to hold up proceedings by raising what are known as matters of privilege — complaints about a variety of issues. One by one, NDP members stood up and talked slowly and at length until the legislature broke each day.

Premier Brian Pallister said that even if the NDP manages to delay bills beyond Tuesday, he has tools at his disposal to get at least some of the bills through the legislature before summer.

"These are all possibilities. Federal governments of various political stripes have used these. The (Manitoba) NDP previously used a number of these initiatives," Pallister said without mentioning specifics.

Among Pallister's options under the legislature rules is what is known as time allocation, in which the government can set a time limit on debating a bill two weeks after it is introduced. There is also closure, in which a government can require the legislature to sit until 2 a.m. on almost any given debate, at which point a vote would be called.

As for the budget, Pallister called on the NDP to change its mind.

"Blockading the work of the legislature is wrong."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2020

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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