Question period, the daily ritual where the Queen's Park opposition holds government to account, got a new time slot on Monday.
Against the wishes of the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats, the Liberals rammed through legislation changing the time by a vote of 49-19.
So question period moved from its traditional mid-afternoon slot to 10:45 a.m., which the Tories and NDP complain will give them less time to research questions to ask Premier Dalton McGuinty and his ministers.
Government House Leader Michael Bryant said the changes, which end night sittings, make the Legislature more "family friendly" for MPPs with young children. The rationale is pretty weak which reinforces that view that it was done to better control the handling of communications and news stories.
So what do you think was the first item dealt with at the first morning sitting of the Legislature on Monday? If guessed coffee, you are correct. You see, no food or beverages are allowed in the Legislature - only water. Here is the actual debate:
Mr. Norman W. Sterling: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: We're moving into a new time frame here. I want to indicate to you that when I first arrived here a long time ago, they allowed members to bring coffee into the legislative chamber. Now we're going to be here at 9 o'clock in the morning, and I normally have a coffee at my desk at 9 o'clock in the morning. Mr. Speaker, I ask your indulgence to allow the morning session to enjoy a cup of coffee while they're listening to debate here in our morning sessions.
Hon. Michael Bryant: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Of course it's up to members of this House to decide on unanimous consent matters, and I also will obviously respect whatever ruling you make with respect to decorum etc., but if in fact the House agrees, not only do I think that the dean of the Legislature deserves a coffee, but I'll be happy to pour it for him. I'm assuming it's a double-double for Mr. Sterling.