Liberals breaking rules to swing byelection, Opposition charges
PC MLA asks for ruling on whether P.E.I. Liberal newspaper ad was a breach of privilege
The Opposition PCs claim Wade MacLauchlan's Liberal government is breaking the rules of the legislature trying to influence the current byelection in District 11 Charlottetown–Parkdale.
Since Friday, the Tories have asked the Speaker of the House for three separate rulings — two regarding the rollout of the capital budget and one regarding the announcement Monday of the province's new culture strategy, made at a city coffee shop.
"Yesterday was yet another attempt to influence voters in a byelection," PC MLA Matthew MacKay told the House Tuesday, noting Speaker Buck Watts has twice before ruled that major government announcements should be made before the legislature if it is in session.
"It saddens me to see this premier continually undermining the Legislative Assembly, putting his own political interests above the House. Mr. Speaker, I strongly encourage you to come down on this government and their repeat offence behaviour."
PC MLA Steven Myers has also asked the Speaker for rulings on two points of privilege regarding the release of the capital budget on Friday.
In one case, Myers asked the Speaker to look into how the P.E.I. Liberal Party was able to tweet details from the province's capital budget as the finance minister was delivering his budget address — before the budget document itself had been tabled.
The budget is a privileged document, Myers said, and even MLAs aren't allowed to disclose details before it's tabled. He claims the Liberal tweets of "intimate budget details" constitute a breach of privilege of all MLAs in the legislature.
Myers also asked the Speaker to rule whether an ad for the Liberal candidate in the byelection that appeared in The Guardian newspaper Saturday constituted a breach of privilege.
The ad for Bob Doiron included specific details from the capital budget.
"The deadline to submit ads for Saturday's Guardian is Thursday morning at 11," Myers told the House. "That means not only did the Liberal party have confidential details of the budget speech on Friday, but that the Liberal party's advertising agency had those same details at least one full day ahead of this very chamber."
A spokesperson for the premier's office said the matters are before the Speaker, and government would wait for his ruling.
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