Before we get to the Premier's homework, it should be pointed out that this question period was easily the most anticipated of the year.
There are at least 3 major stories that the media have been pursuing (AbitibiBowater and the situation in Grand Falls-Windso; the Reynolds fiasco; and the looming nurses strike, along with other assorted health care crises) since the last question period way back on April 8th.
As a result, yesterday's question period received unusually heavy coverage from both maintream media and bloggers:
It is highly significant that DW chose to boycott this particular question period. For a leader whom everyone, especially his supporters, insists is in total control, his absence spoke as loudly as a speech.
Whatever the excuse, DW still has to answer to the House of Assembly.
So here are the homework questions set for DW at yesterday's question period:
1) "I ask the Premier today: Now that AbitibiBowater has cancelled these payments is government willing to step up for these workers, make the payments and deduct the amount from what will be paid for the expropriated assets?
2) I ask the Premier today: Is government going to do anything to provide financial assistance to these workers now that they have been told the payments will not be coming?
3) I ask the Premier: Is it right that these workers are now caught between a company who is broke and a government who has retrieved the assets but are unwilling to pay out the money that is duly owed the employees?
4) I ask the Premier today: Has his government given any consideration to this [stimulus package] proposal? If so, what action do you intend to take to help these workers?
5) I ask the Premier today - I know that both sides [Dangovt and nurses] have made compromises, but I ask again: Why won’t government move away from these two clauses in order to avoid a nursing strike in the Province?
6) I ask the Premier: Will Mr. Byrne be repaying this money pursuant to the restitution order, or will the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador be reimbursing the taxpayers for money specifically used for PC Party operations?
7) I ask the Premier and the government: Are you willing to support an independent third-party investigation into election campaigns, to determine whether any other inappropriate funds were channeled to the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador?
8) I ask the Premier: Why are you so adamantly opposed to a third-party investigation that protects the Province’s electoral laws and would identify any abuses that have occurred?
9) I say to the Premier, who we all know is also a lawyer: Why are we refusing an investigation under the Elections Act, which is a totally separate issue than anything the former member might have done under the Criminal Code?
10) So I have a question for the Premier, and my question is: If this government is so sure that you can negotiate with AbitibiBowater to get the severance covered and the workplace reduction program money covered, if you are so sure you can do that, why won’t you put money up front to deal with what the workers are going through right now at this moment?
11) I ask the Premier: Why can’t this government give a clearer explanation to them so that they will feel something is going on to meet their needs?
12) I am not asking the minister or the Premier to go out and explain the position of AbitibiBowater. I am asking them to explain to the workers why they are so confident when they say they are going to take care of them, because they do not see themselves being taken care of. Explain your own position to them, Minister. That is what I am asking for."
For the full monty, see http://www.assembly.nl.ca/business/hansard/ga46session2/09-04-27.htm
p.s. Number 10 is a particularly good question. If Dangovt won't put up a bridging fund of some sort, why won't the premier himself convene a town hall meeting in Grand Falls-Windsor to speak directly with the people affected? If he wants to be like Obama, who is giving another news conference as his administration marks 100 days in power, then surely DW can manage a stop-over in Grand Falls-Windsor on his way back from wherever he's been.