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New Brunswick MLA says Opposition behaviour could mean fewer women seeking office

‘You don’t see that same behavior when Mr. Speaker is in the chair’: MLA Lisa Harris
WATCH ABOVE: While the New Brunswick Opposition wasn’t thrilled about the Gallant’s governments motion to adjourn the house sitting, one Liberal member took great exception to the PC’s actions for an entirely different reason. Global’s Jeremy Keefe reports.

A Liberal MLA in New Brunswick is criticizing the Opposition Conservatives for actions she says will make women think twice about pursuing public office.

Lisa Harris, who represents the riding of Miramichi-Neguac, said Friday she feels she was shown less respect when serving as Committee Chair than the Speaker.

READ MORE: New Brunswick legislature adjourns house sitting until end of March

“We haven’t witnessed that before and we most certainly haven’t witnessed it when Mr. Speaker is in the chair,” she said.

MLAs were gathered for the final House sitting session until March 29 after the Liberals passed an adjournment on Thursday. The day’s proceedings saw several standing votes being called and no shortage of chatter from either side.

Opposition Leader Bruce Fitch said his party is “trying to use the rules in our favour to make the point that we’ll use whatever tools we have to trip up this government.”

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Harris said she felt the overall tone was “disturbing”.

“I, for one, am encouraging women to get out and to run, and when they witness things like they’ve seen today it could be very discouraging for them,” she said.

The Conservatives said their actions were strictly tactical and not sexist. MLA Dorothy Shephard said what happened had nothing to do with gender.

“What we were opposing today was a calculated and deliberate effort by the government to limit questioning and debate, and no matter who was sitting in that chair those actions would have happened,” she said. “Women in this legislature are strong individuals who can carry themselves and manage themselves on par with their male colleagues.”

Harris said regardless of gender or political affiliation she wants to see an end to such behaviour.

“If somebody on my side of the house ever did something like that, I most certainly would be talking to them immediately,” she said. “There’s a certain level of respect that we should have and today was just unacceptable.”