Fredericton — The Liberal government is tackling the provincial budget by reducing the pay of not only cabinet members, but the prime minister’s salary as well. Reductions will be almost $12,000 and $5,000 for Brain Gallant and his ministers respectively.
The move, deemed more symbolic than effective, has been met with positive reception by both members of the Legislature and the general public.
Despite overall approval of the decision, an attached proposal to also remove the consistent supply of free K-Cups provided for the Legislative Assembly is facing a great deal of heat from the MLA community.
Keurig single-serving coffee systems were made available to the Legislature building by the Progressive Conservative government in October 2010, with a total of 2 coffee dispensers or “Keurigs” exclusively serving Alward and his ministers. MLAs did not have access to the single-serving coffee systems until late 2012, with the number of Keurigs increasing to 6. At least twice a week, several baskets placed in close proximity to the beverage systems would be stocked with an array of K-Cup coffee flavours such as hazelnut, butter toffee and mocha java.
Progressive Conservative critics are calling the move a partisan movement, “motivated only by the Liberals’ agenda to slander and demonize the previous N.B. government.”
“It is a saddening thing,” commented previous premier David Alward, “to see a refreshing beverage option we started offering only a short time ago discarded, under the suspicious veil of combatting the provincial deficit. Saving money just does not sound like a Liberal action to me. This is a prime example of the doctrine of colourability.”
The doctrine of colourability refers to legislation that colours the law with a substitute purpose, while accomplishing another goal that is outside the constraints of the constitution.
Alward’s striking comment has raised questions of possible court action on the decision to terminate the complimentary K-Cup provisions.
Sarah LeBlanc, the Progressive Conservative director of communications, informed reporters that this may be a matter of national interest.
“Disrupting the ebb and flow of the Legislature is not what the Progressives want, but this may well be an abuse of power by our current government, one that steps a little too far outside constitutional authority. If the Supreme Court need be involved to protect New Brunswickers, so be it.”
These claims have many constitutional experts scratching their heads, as the exact breach of constitutional law remains unclear.
Meanwhile, MLAs are proposing a less drastic change that involves cutting down on the variety of K-Cup coffee flavours. Currently, the number of different coffees ranges from 20 to 25 on any given week that the Legislature meets. Some of the most popular flavours of the Legislative Assembly include Cookie Crumble Crunch, Jiffy Joe’s, Blueberry Mountain, Coffee People Morning Blend and Kenya AA Dark Roast.