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Filibuster could keep Newfoundland politicians working on Christmas Eve

The Newfoundland House of Assembly’s opposition parties are on the fourth day of a filibuster against a pair of Progressive Conservative bills concerning a major hydroelectricity project. At its current pace, the marathon debate could continue into Christmas Eve (or beyond) if the opposition doesn’t relent.

Political Points is your daily guide to some of the stories we're watching in Ottawa and across Canada, by The Globe and Mail's team of political reporters.

The filibuster that keeps on giving

As you prepare to head home for the holidays, spare a thought for those souls still stuck at work. People like the hardworking MHAs of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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The House of Assembly's opposition parties are on the fourth day of a filibuster against a pair of Progressive Conservative bills concerning a major hydroelectricity project. At its current pace, the marathon debate could continue into Christmas Eve (or beyond) if the opposition doesn't relent.

Liberal House Leader Yvonne Jones said the filibuster started because the bills were important pieces of public policy that were not introduced in the House with enough time for study.

"The first day or two we needed to buy time to educate ourselves further as to what was in the legislation," Ms. Jones said in an interview Thursday night. She says the six Liberal MHAs have taken the debate in 12-hour shifts. (The other opposition caucus, the five-seat NDP, are also taking part.)

At issue are fears of cost overruns and environmental concerns for the multibillion-dollar Muskrat Falls hydroelectricity project. The two bills technically being debated concern related provincial utility rates and land expropriation for the project, but opposition questions have taken on the larger issue of Muskrat Falls.

With a massive PC majority in the House of Assembly, the ultimate passage of the bills isn't in question. But so far the Dunderdale government has been happy to go along with the filibuster.

"Everyone thus far has been very positive, upbeat. There's good camaraderie; it's a really great team-building exercise, actually," PC politician Paul Lane told the Telegram's James McLeod yesterday. And if debate goes into Christmas?

"We're not going to rush ourselves through this," Ms. Jones said. "This is a huge piece of legislation, it affects the people of this province for a long time."

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If you have the family gathered and the burning fireplace isn't doing it for you, the House of Assembly has a filibuster livestream.

Flaherty disappointed

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has been publicly mum on what he thinks about Mark Carney's courtship by the Liberal party, but privately, he's expressing disappointment, sources tell The Globe and Mail. The concern is the church-and-state separation between politics and the Bank of Canada. The issue is likely to come up when Mr. Carney faces a committee grilling by British MPs in February.

Firing Blanks

The Harper government is reviewing the group it turns to for firearms advice. Though the Conservatives got rid of the long-gun registry, they rejected the group's controversial advice to further loosen restrictions for owning firearms.

Meanwhile, the head of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association – akin to being a northern NRA – says there are things the United States can learn from Canada's gun-control policy.

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Programming note

Political Points is going on hiatus for the holidays. Enjoy your eggnog and we'll see you back on Monday, Jan. 7.

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About the Author
Assistant editor, Ottawa

Chris Hannay is assistant editor in The Globe's Ottawa bureau and author of the daily Politics newsletter. Previously, he was The Globe and Mail's digital politics editor, community editor for news and sports (working with social media and digital engagement) and a homepage editor. More

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