Professors call House of Assembly decision undemocratic
Two dozen professors — from Memorial University and from universities in Ontario — are calling on the provincial government to drop its legislation to cut the number of seats in the House of Assembly.
The professors have written a letter describing the legislation as undemocratic and ill-informed. Among the signatures is that of an associate political science professor from Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Kelly Blidook told CBC News that he doesn't agree with the way Bill 42 was rushed through the House.
"Really [the letter] just expresses that we're extremely disappointed that government took this action — rushed it through as quickly as they could, had an all-night session, voted early in the morning — did basically everything to get it through quickly and not consult," he said.
We've seen people changing their positions on this.- Kelly Blidook, associate professor at MUN
According to Blidook, the premier and cabinet already have too much power and members are supposed to keep that power in check.
The associate professor said he questions the motivation behind government's speedy decision.
"I think it was originally just a political ploy to do something that would gain some favour," he said.
"That would put the other parties in a bad position and make it difficult for them."
Not enough time
Blidook argued that the public wasn't given enough time to debate what a reduction to the number of seats in the House of Assembly might mean.
"Even Roger Grimes earlier this week said, 'You know, a lot of people have some good points about this. I'm rethinking my position.' And when you give things time, when you give them debate, that happens."
Blidook believes people in rural parts of the province will be most impacted by the reduction in seats and said that, given more time, those people might have voiced those concerns to their MHAs.
While Blidook doesn't support the decision to cut House seats, he said he was looking forward to a debate on the issue.
"Maybe I'd come around on it if somebody would give me a good reason," said Blidook.
"But to me, one quarter of the budget deficit is not the only reason — certainly not the best reason. So I want reasons, I want a rationale, I want explanations and a debate about this. And that just never happened."
Blidook said he and the other professors want government to admit that it rushed its decision.
"It's okay in politics to say, you know what, we decided to be thoughtful," Blidook said.
"And say ... we rushed this. We made a poor decision, we didn't consider the ramifications and we'll do it again."
Memorial University professors Amanda Bittner, Russell Wiliams and Stephen Tomblin have also added their names to the letter.