Question Period (16 March 2006)

Question Period

From Hansard - 16 March 2006

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Written Questions

Mr. D'Autremont: — Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, yesterday the Government Whip rose in the House and ordered two more written questions. That means in his infinite wisdom, the Government Whip thinks he needs 180 more days . . .

The Deputy Speaker: — Order. The member on his feet would like to place his question before the Assembly.

Mr. D’Autremont: — Needs 180 more days to respond to these simple questions.

Madam Speaker, these questions were asked on Thursday, December 1, 2005. That means that this government has had 105 days to figure out the answer to them. Now they want another six months — 285 days they want. It’s totally unreasonable.

Madam Speaker, what are they hiding? To the Government House Leader, what is the NDP government hiding by not answering these questions?

Hon. Mr. Hagel: — Well, Madam Speaker, I said it the other day and I say it again today: the world has changed. The world has changed substantially since the Leader of the Opposition served as a staffer in a cabinet minister’s office in the Devine government. It was a time in this province, when I served in opposition, Madam Deputy Speaker, that questions were not answered.

Madam Deputy Speaker, there were an avalanche of questions that were asked in the fall session. I said the other day that those questions . . .

The Deputy Speaker: — Members have expressed a desire to hear an answer to a question. I’d ask them to respect that.

Hon. Mr. Hagel: — Madam Deputy Speaker, it does kind of defy credibility, does it not, when they ask a question and then don’t want an answer?

Madam Deputy Speaker, I made a commitment to this House the other day, and I stand by my commitment. We take the questions very seriously, and they will be provided to this House and they would be provided substantially before the deadline as required by the rules of the House.

Mr. D’Autremont: — Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Madam Speaker, there are 566 questions that remain unanswered because of this government hiding the answers. Madam Deputy Speaker, while the government chooses not to answer the questions, this hiding has become a pattern of financial incompetence.

Madam Speaker, there’s no excuse for this delay. In last year’s budget, the Premier increased his staffing budget by 60 per cent, almost half a million dollars in extra taxpayers’ money, for more communication staff. Last year the Premier said during the Premier’s estimates, and I quote from Hansard of May 25, 2005. Quote:

. . . the need . . . [of] greater staffing resources in Executive Council, to provide accurate, timely responses to the written questions provided by the opposition . . .

Madam Deputy Speaker, why do these written questions continue to go unanswered when the necessary staff and resources have been put in place? To the Premier: do they have one staffer for each question and they have to take a year to answer them so they can keep their jobs, or are they just political hacks that are in there not doing duties in the legislature?

Hon. Mr. Hagel: — Well, Madam Speaker, credibility is strained yet again. Here we hear, out of the mouths of the opposition, the basic position that they have about people who work for the people of Saskatchewan in the administration of public service.

An Hon. Member: — Hacks.

Hon. Mr. Hagel: — Hacks. In fact I think . . . Was it skunks and deadwood was the phrase that was previously used by the Saskatchewan Party in referring to the people who work in the public administration?

Madam Deputy Speaker, what we are seeing here is purely and simply the expression of attitude. This is attack the public service. It’s not about putting forward your policy alternatives.

Heaven only knows, Madam Deputy Speaker, that they have no need for a director of policy because they sent him off to Ottawa with their cousins with whom they are not related, as they sent him away today. Madam Deputy Speaker, credibility is strained yet again.

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