Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/11/2006 (3929 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
With the throne speech now delivered, MLAs returned for the first question period in five months. One might have thought in five months, someone would have come up with something to ask the government about that is new.One would be wrong.But I digress.Thankfully one can always count on the Liberal party to fill in some empty news holes. The press gallery had a pool today to guess what the Tories first question would be.We should have had a pool to guess what point of privilege the Liberal party would raise. It has become a habit for the Liberals - either leader Jon Gerrard or his lieutenant, Kevin Lamoureux - to start off a session complaining their rights have been violated.In 2003, the complaint was that the two of them didn't get to sit together in the house. In 2004 it was a complaint they had been lied to by the government about Hydra House. In 2005, Lamoureux was wounded because his petitions hadn't been accepted because they weren't filled out properly.So today, it was no surprise that Gerrard stood up to complain before the first question let loose. Today his issue is that Oscar Lathlin - minister of aboriginal and northern affairs - is in a conflict of interest over a bill designed to ease the transition of crown lands to first nations under treaty land entitlement agreements. The bill - The real Property Amendment Act - was introduced and debated last spring, but never passed. It was held over for this session and is awaiting third reading.But Lathlin - says Gerrard - is aboriginal and admitted in committee he is a member of a band which will benefit from the transfer of these lands and therefore shouldn't be allowed to sponsor such a bill.His claim sent House Leader Dave Chomiak - not exactly known for being quiet like a mouse - completely over the edge. Chomiak started ranting and raving about the accusation, and brought up that by Gerrard's criteria, farmers shouldn't be agriculture ministers since they bring in legislation that affects farmers.Chomiak called Gerrard's comments "inaccurate" and "offensive" and demanded he apologize.The accusations got Lathlin himself to speak out. The most media-shy minister in the Doer cabinet, Lathlin actually requested to be interviewed on the subject yesterday. He said he's always regarded Gerrard as an intelligent person and respected him, so these comments are surprising and confusing."This tells me he doesn't know anything about reserve structure or treaty land entitlement," said Lathlin.He pointed out, he personally, doesn't benefit from land transfers.Speaker George Hickes took the matter under advisement. He'll let us all know in a few days whether Gerrard has a point or not soon. The Tories, meanwhile, told Gerrard to take his complaints to the conflict of interest commissioner.