The outgoing Speaker of Newfoundland and Labrador's legislature expects New Democrats to be given a greater opportunity to quiz cabinet ministers in public.


Lorraine Michael will be joined by four other New Democrats in caucus. ((CBC) )

With five seats compared to the Liberals' six, the NDP will almost certainly get a greater share of question period when the house of assembly is in session, said Roger Fitzgerald, who is also retiring as MHA for Bonavista South.

"I can certainly be assured — and people can be assured — that the third party will get much more time than the five minutes that was allotted when they sat with just one person," said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald said he would expect the Liberals to get about 60 per cent of the 30-minute question period, although he said the decision will fall to the next Speaker.

Tuesday's election saw the governing Progressive Conservatives returned to power, but with six fewer seats, at 37.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale angered Opposition critics this week by saying she had no plans to open the legislature before Christmas, on grounds that government had no legislation ready to roll.

Dunderdale also said that she has found that the house of assembly has not been working properly, and that debate in the legislature has not been productive.

Fitzgerald said he expected debate in the house to be lively in the coming session, which will include 14 new MHAs. He recalled sitting in Opposition in the 1990s, including the aftermath of the 1996 Liberal sweep that left the Tories with just nine seats.

"I think the Opposition will work quite well," Fitzgerald said.

"The 11 members are going to be strong members that I'm sure will hold the government accountable and the government members will respond and take responsibility for the decisions they make."