Opposition denied right to reply: McLaughlin

Criticism of the previous administration by
Minister of Education, Training and Employment Rolston Anglin has been
described by opposition member Alden McLaughlin as undemocratic because the
statements and comments were made when the opposition did not have a right of
reply in the Legislative Assembly.

Mr. McLaughlin said he was forced
to respond to government statements on local talk shows because he could not do
so in the House.

He raised an objection Wednesday to
comments by Mr. Anglin criticising Mr. McLaughlin’s performance as minister
when the People’s Progressive Movement party was in power.

He said Mr. Anglin did not deal
with these issues in the House earlier, when the opposition could have replied
as part of a debate. Debates have been carried out in the House throughout June
in response to the Throne Speech, the Budget Address and in Finance Committee,
but statements read by members of the House and by Cabinet ministers are not
subject to debate.

“He is now, in the most cowardly of
manners, not just making statements but starting to debate, assisted by his
colleague, the third elected member for West Bay [Cline Glidden],” Mr.
McLaughlin said.

This week, Mr. Anglin read
statements regarding the Department of Employment Relations and the Scholarship
Secretariat and blasted the previous administration’s performance in relation
to those bodies.

Mr. McLaughlin said that
constitutionally he was not able to respond to the comments and statements made
by Mr. Anglin.

“It is an abuse of privilege of
this House,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “I should not be forced to go on Rooster to
deal with issues like this. It is undemocratic, inequitable, and it is a
further indication of the road down which this House is starting to go.”

He asked that the Speaker of the
House ensure that proper procedures are followed. On Monday, Mr. Anglin said in
a statement that the Department of Employment Relations, which he described as
having been left in an “absolute mess” under Mr. McLaughlin, would be
restructured and made into two separate departments.

On Wednesday, he set out in a
statement the steps his ministry was taking to address shortfalls in how the
government awards scholarships to students locally and overseas, saying he had
“inherited a disaster” from his predecessor.

Following that statement, Mr.
Glidden asked Mr. Anglin, how he, as a minister, went about making improvements
to his ministry when, referring to comments made recently by Mr. McLaughlin on
a local radio talk show, ministers had no say in the hiring of civil servants.

Mr. Glidden noted that Mr.
McLaughlin said on radio that he was not responsible for the hiring of Lonny
Tibbetts, the director of employment relations, who has been placed on required
leave.

“It is not accurate to say that
ministers are so neutered that they sit handcuffed in their ministry without
having any possibility to have an impact,” Mr. Anglin said, adding that
ministers are legally accountable to Cabinet for the outputs within their
ministries.

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