Nfld. & Labrador

Harvey Hodder, former Speaker and Mount Pearl mayor, dies

Politicians of all stripes paid tribute Thursday to the late Harvey Hodder, the former mayor of Mount Pearl who went on to be the Speaker of the House of Assembly. 

Former Speaker had been critical of poor spending controls at House of Assembly

Harvey Hodder, seen here in Newfoundland and Labrador's House of Assembly in 2007, has died. (CBC)

Politicians of all stripes paid tribute Thursday to the late Harvey Hodder, the former mayor of Mount Pearl who went on to be the Speaker of the House of Assembly. 

Hodder had a lengthy political career that included seeing Mount Pearl achieve city status, as well as four terms in the House of Assembly as a Progressive Conservative, representing the districts of Waterford-Kenmount and then — after a redistribution — Waterford Valley. 

Hodder was also notable for his sharp criticism of the lax spending controls at the legislature, particularly after a 2006 spending scandal that claimed casualties in all three parties. 

Hodder was Speaker of the House of Assembly from 2003 to 2007. (CBC)

"A very sad day indeed," Education Minister Tom Osborne said in the legislature Thursday. 

"He did serve his district well. He was a proud Newfoundlander and Labradorian, and I know [was] fiercely proud of the city of Mount Pearl." 

Steve Kent, who succeeded Hodder as both mayor and MHA, tweeted that Hodder had been fighting cancer. 

Hodder, who was born in 1943 in Creston South, was an educator before moving into politics. 

As mayor of Mount Pearl, he oversaw an expansion, while fighting off a potential amalgamation threat from neighbouring St. John's. 

He entered provincial politics in 1993, defeating Liberal cabinet minister Eric Gullage in Waterford-Kenmount. He was re-elected in the subsequent three general elections, before retiring in 2007. 

Was critical of spending practices

Hodder was an outspoken voice during what became known as the legislative spending scandal, in which a handful of politicians for three parties were found to have overcharged their accounts. 

Hodder testified at the trial of former Liberal cabinet minister Jim Walsh about the walls he encountered after becoming Speaker in 2003, when the Tories regained government. 

Hodder, at rear, testified at the fraud trial of former cabinet minister Jim Walsh, at left. (CBC)

Hodder told the court he was rebuffed when he asked questions about how the legislature's own financial system worked. 

"You have to, in a modern democracy, be prepared to be accountable, to be open, to be transparent," Hodder told CBC News on his retirement. "Anything less than that diminishes the institution."

Current Speaker Scott Reid said he continues to consult decisions made by Hodder. He said Hodder's fairness was his distinguishing characteristic. 

"He was respected on all sides of the House as a member and as a Speaker," said Reid, who first knew Hodder while he was working behind the scenes as a Liberal staffer. 

Independent MHA Paul Lane said Hodder was quietly effective, and a good friend and constituency representative.

"He did so many things behind the scenes that people will never know," Lane said.

"Rest in peace, Harvey." 

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