Today, provincial New Democrat leader Carole James announced that, if the Liberals succeed in pushing through the MLA compensation commission's controversial recommendations, her caucus won't be opting-out of the new pay-and-pension package. Instead, they'll "participate" in the pension plan while donating "back the pay increase...to charity, to community organizations that have been hurt by this government." Not exactly a proud moment for Ms. James, who maintains her party will vote against legislation acting on the commission's recommendations. But the Campbell administration - who have, on at least one occassion, appeared almost statesmen-like supporting the commission - seem to have forgetten the old adage that, if the opposition is falling, it's the government's duty to get out of the way (or something like that).
When Ms. James rose to debate the bill this afternoon, Liberal MLAs walked out of the legislature - leaving just two of their number inside. "They're running away again," charged Ms. James "They can't even face the leader making comments about the bill and the obscene pay increase. They can't even take listening to it. It just shows once again they don't listen to their communities. Their not interesting in listening. They just want to take their pay increase and runâ€¦It's appalling."
But the Liberals wouldn't say the insult was coordinated. Asked about the matter, Advanced Education Minister Murray Coell said Ms. James's speech simply "wasn't much to listen to, to be perfectly honest." Meanwhile, House Leader Mike de Jong insisted it, "isn't really a walk out. You look at what the position of the leader of the Opposition is - they're not opting-out. So what you're seeing there is a whole lot of smoke and mirrors and a whole lot of disingenuous commentary."