New harassment rules for politicians still on hold after 8 months

The government is promising it will soon start debating new rules for dealing with complaints of harassment between members of the House of Assembly.

Just this week NDP and PC MHAs accused Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne of harassing behaviour in the house. That was dealt with through a point of privilege, and Byrne was forced to retract his comments.

But it highlighted the fact that eight months after a parliamentary committee made recommendations for new rules, the house still hasn't had a chance to debate and adopt them.

"We have some time delays because of some other legislation and because of some of the things that have occurred in the house over the last little bit," said Siobhan Coady, the government house leader.

"But it will definitely be this fall."

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Right now there are only eight more sitting days left before the house breaks until March.

The report was put together by the  Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, but after the election it needed to be reconstituted and months later that hasn't happened.

Coady only took over as house leader a few weeks ago after Andrew Parsons stepped down from the position.

The new rules outlined in the report, would put dealing with harassment allegations in the hands of the citizen's representative, who is independent. It would also allow for anonymity and give the complainant more say in how the complaint is dealt with.

PC Leader Ches Crosbie said government is dragging it's feet. Even if it's debated and adopted this fall, he expects it will be well into next year before it's implemented

"That's a long period of time to put into effect something that people in general thought was urgently necessary two years ago," said Crosbie.

CBC

The need for new rules was highlighted after cabinet ministers Dale Kirby and Eddie Joyce were accused of harassment, and removed from cabinet and the Liberal caucus. Both have said they were unfairly treated in the process.

One of many delays

Crosbie said this report is only one thing the Liberal government is dragging its heals on.

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He points to the all party committee on democratic reform, which he says has only met once since the election.

It's supposed to look at things like political fundraising and online voting.

When it was created, Parsons thought the committee could quickly bring in some changes, but that never happened.

"There is little to, even put it at about zero enthusiasm, in the government for doing anything on democratic reform," said Crosbie.