© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Premier Robert Ghiz is facing criticism for bypassing legislation and unilaterally naming Prince Edward Island’s Olympic gold medalist Heather Moyse to the Order of P.E.I.
Charles Curley, chair of the Order of P.E.I. Advisory Council, says the proper procedures were not followed.
“There is a committee of nine people. We evaluate every nomination that is received based on their merit and then after that we make our selection,” Curley said.
“There is a process.”
Every year, the committee calls for nominations from the public, which are accepted usually until the end of March.
After careful assessment, the committee choses three recipients every year. Those three names are then forwarded to the premier and lieutenant governor, who automatically approve them.
The process is enshrined in legislation.
Curley says the advisory council was aware Ghiz wanted to give Moyse the award, but in a meeting last week decided against it, as it would have gone against the legislation.
“It takes away from the process of regular people who nominate someone. It’s not fair to them because they’re going through the regular process, but then the premier steps forward and says, ‘I want to give this person one,’” Curley said.
“It kind of puts politics into the Order of P.E.I., which we’re trying to take the politics out of it.”
But Ghiz makes no apologies about his decision to give Moyse the award.
He says he will change the legislation in the upcoming spring session of the legislature.
“There’s going to be exceptional circumstances,” he said, remarking that the current legislation for this award is too stringent.
“Under the current legislation you can’t do any special provisions for any events that may occur outside of the norm, such as winning back-to-back Olympic gold medals, so we’re just going to make sure we fix the legislation.”
But Opposition Leader Steven Myers says he believes it was a political decision and one Ghiz should have left alone.
“I have no dispute at all as to whether or not she’s deserving of the award, because quite frankly she is,” Myers said.
“But it’s a little disheartening to see that the premier would take an Island hero like Heather Moyse and throw her into the middle of a complete turmoil by not following the process that’s laid out by a volunteer committee.”
Myers noted nominations for the Order of P.E.I. are still open and that the committee will not make its selections until May.
“We don’t want this to become a political process... the premier has injected himself into a process that never needed him, and he’s dragging a great Islander and an Olympic champion in with him. And it’s really unfortunate that he would do that to somebody like Heather Moyse.”
But Ghiz said he says it is others who are making this political.
“Let’s remember, (Moyse) is an extraordinary ambassador for Prince Edward Island, she’s had an extraordinary accomplishment and people should probably keep their eye on the ball here and be celebrating this the way it should be celebrated.”