Antics in the Legislature

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week, I fasted with Donna Dillman and several other supporters, including our nominated candidate Sharon Howarth.  We all sat with Donna at the Legislature every afternoon.  It was an eye-opening experience, with a lot of counterproductive heckling and shouting in a rabidly partisan atmosphere.

Donna Dillman, chilled to the bone because she was not generating her own heat, was permitted to take her coat into the Member’s Gallery, where Peter Tabuns got us seats every day.  Her eyes had been dry for some time, she told me.  She wanted to close her eyelids to lubricate them, but said she was threatened with expulsion for “sleeping in the gallery”.  Nor was she permitted to take her water in with her.  She needed to step out periodically to drink while all the MPPs had pages bring them water on command.

The most interesting day was Wednesday, when there was not enough space in the Member’s Gallery, so we sat higher up in the Public Gallery.  Peter Tabuns acknowledged our presence early on, officially reading our names into the record, as he had been doing for Donna for more than two weeks.  But the most interesting part to me occurred somewhat later.

A Liberal member threw a softball question to his own government, asking Donna Cansfield to explain why it was important to deal with climate change.  Donna began to answer when Peter Tabuns yelled out “You have no plan”.  Keep in mind that Peter is the fellow who introduced legislation to make the government adhere to goals recommended by the IPCC.  He is upset on this point, and so he should be, because the government refused.  He continued to overshout Minister Donna Cansfield.  He stood up and told her her response was scandalous.  The speaker told him to be quiet, then to sit down.  Peter continued to interrupt Donna.  He was then asked to leave the chamber.  As he was led away, he said “Donna, you know that’s not true”.

In stark contrast to Peter’s impassioned plea for the planet, his leader, Howard Hampton, speaking both before and after Peter left, advocated for greater funding to expand our already unsustainable forestry sector, for lower energy prices, for more subsidies for the auto industry, for more money for the manufacturing sector in general.  Peter is in the wrong party.  If the NDP were in power, our emissions profile might well be even worse.

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