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Great Lakes Article:

MLAs back for a day
Whirlwind session mops up procedural details, debates hydroelectric dams
By Dan Lett
Winnipeg Free Press
06/24/03



See you in September.

The Manitoba legislature reconvened yesterday for a whirlwind, one-day session to mop up procedural issues and hold an emergency debate on mad cow disease.

All parties in the legislature agreed to the one-day session to give MLAs and their families time to recover from the 33-day provincial election campaign, which concluded June 3.

Premier Gary Doer said he would reconvene the legislature in early September to complete the budget approval process and introduce a legislative agenda.

Lieutenant-governor Peter Liba delivered a hasty speech from the throne which did little more than remind the legislature of the result of the election and the NDP's five-point campaign platform. The NDP expects to unveil a much more detailed speech from the throne in November.

On behalf of the government, Liba identified the future of the Port of Churchill, mad cow disease and an uncertain international economy as issues of concern to the NDP government. The construction of additional hydro electric generating dams in northern Manitoba was identified as one of the most exciting opportunities the government is pursuing.

Yesterday did provide the opportunity to officially swear MLAs into office. Only 54 of the 57 MLAs attended yesterday's sitting.
Minnedosa Tory MLA Leanne Rowat was declared the winner after a judicial recount last week but must complete a five-day appeal period before she can be sworn in. A recount in Fort Garry, where NDP candidate Kerri Irvin-Ross defeated incumbent Tory Joy Smith by 84 votes, is taking place this week in Winnipeg. Tory MLA John Loewen (Fort Whyte) could not attend.

MLAs also elected NDP MLA George Hickes (Point Douglas) as speaker of the legislature. Hickes has been speaker since 1999, when the NDP was returned to power after 11 years in opposition.
The April budget, which was approved by the legislature the day before the provincial election was called, was reintroduced to allow for completion of the estimates process. In estimates, MLAs are given the opportunity to examine the budget of each department of government, line-by-line. Government does not have full spending authority until the estimates are passed by the legislature.

Former premier Gary Filmon recalled the house for one day in 1991 to debate an amendment to the Environment Act.

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