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Pallister Conservative government makes bizarre decision to close down the Legislature when there is still a lot of work to do.

Yesterday, the Pallister Conservative government effectively closed down the Legislative sitting without any indication as to when it will resume. 

It is a strange decision.  The Manitoba Legislature when it sits each year has a defined body of work that needs to be accomplished.   This includes the initial presentation of the budget, a budget debate and then a series of questions and answers on budget matters which are called Estimates.  This is an opportunity for MLAs to ask probing questions on details of the budget, and for the MLAs and the public to learn more about the changes that are being made and why they are being made.   In addition to this there are, each year, a series of bills brought forward by government and opposition parties.  This year the government has put forward 62 bills and the opposition parties and government backbenchers have together put forward 17 private members bills.  In addition to this work, during session there is a daily question period during which questions are asked of the government related to issues of the day and there is an opportunity to discuss and debate these issues.  During this whole process, and particularly when bills are examined at committee stage, there is an opportunity for public input with presenters being able to make comments and suggestions about the bills being put forward. 

This year we had a budget presented (after a week during which the NDP highjacked and delayed the process) but due to the COVID-19 pandemic there was very little debate time.  Since the initial few days  of the session, we had a hiatus of several weeks during the height of concern over the COVID-19 pandemic.  Then in May, as a warm up to getting fully back to work, we had one day of sitting each week.   However,  it was clearly apparent that when the end of the warm up came, we would be seven weeks behind our normal schedule and would need to get back to work in a more serious fashion to complete this year's Legislative work.   Then in a bizarre decision, yesterday, instead of getting us back to work full time (with appropriate COVID-19 physical distancing, sanitizing and integrating video-link participation measures), the government has effectively shut down the legislature for the indefinite future.   We, as Liberals, were fully ready to be back in the Legislature full time and to get through the work that needs to be done.  We are disappointed that the Pallister government, for reasons which remain unclear, has shut down the Legislature. 


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