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86-day session in legislature ends

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Ron Schuler (centre) gestures during the last question period in the longest session of the Manitoba legislature.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Ron Schuler (centre) gestures during the last question period in the longest session of the Manitoba legislature. Photo Store

"And that, Mr. Speaker, is no Beauchesne."

With those seven words from the lips of NDP House Leader Jennifer Howard, the 86th question period since April 16 came to a raucous end Friday.

Howard was answering a question by Progressive Conservative House Leader Kelvin Goertzen, who asked the government to rescind its July 1 increases to the provincial sales tax.

Howard said that wasn’t in the cards and then listed where the revenue from the tax increase is going: schools, personal care homes, roads, nurses and teachers.

And then she said those seven words, in direct reference to PC Leader Brian Pallister and an accusation made by the NDP a month ago that he uttered "bull----" in the house in response to a ruling made by Speaker Daryl Reid. A spokesman said Pallister didn’t swear, but instead made a reference to Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms, the rules of order used in Canada.

Although MLAs spent the rest of day debating remaining bills, including the NDP’s anti-bullying bill, Friday marks the day when the legislature rises and politicians on both sides of the house can enjoy the remaining days of summer. Bill 33 is expected to pass later today.

The house has sat non-stop since Finance Minister Stan Struthers tabled his government’s new budget and its plans to increase the PST one point to eight per cent.

That tax hike — without a public referendum — touched off an extending sitting of the house that went beyond what was supposed to be the June 13 cutoff date. Opposition Leader Brian Pallister's Tories launched a series of procedural delays, and almost incessant ringing of the division bells, to delay the Selinger government’s legislative and fiscal agenda.

An agreement between the parties last week will see MLAs come back for a brief sitting in November before breaking again and then coming back in March, about a month earlier than they have in past.

Friday also marked the last day in the house for River Heights MLA Jon Gerrard as leader of the provincial Liberals. Gerrard has been leader for 15 years. The leadership convention will be held Oct. 26 at Fort Garry Place.

"It’s a sad day in one respect to be the last day as leader, but I think I can reflect back on some positive contributions," he said.

History

Updated on Friday, September 13, 2013 at 2:02 PM CDT: Corrects headline

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