And then there were 21

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There have been two calls in the past week for a reduction in the size of Prince Edward Island’s government. Add one more.

In a province the size of this with just over 145,000 people, 27 members of the legislative assembly is too many.

One of the two calls for a reduction in MLAs came from an MLA – Olive Crane. Being a member of the government, she should know how much work is involved and that fewer people can easily carry out the governing of this province.

Last week the Morell-Mermaid MLA tabled a motion in the too-large legislature calling for public consultations on the issue and suggested there should be a review to see if 27 is too many.

Crane suggested the number be reduced to between 21 and 23.  

This week, Island New Democrats’ Leader Mike Redmond issued a statement saying that the number of MLAs should be reduced to 15.

He’s likely basing that number on other provinces and the ratio of population to members in the legislatures there. However, we still have to keep enough MLAs around, so that in cases where the government is formed from just a slim majority, there will be enough MLAs to create a functioning caucus.

If Redmond got his way and the number of MLAs was reduced to 15, a government could be formed with just eight members. Take the premier out of the mix and a Speaker, and you’re left with only six more members to form your cabinet. That means all of the elected members would get cabinet posts whether they were capable or not – we’d be stuck with those six with no other options.

Premier Robert Ghiz said he thought the government should have a minimum of 10 cabinet ministers. That seems like a fair number, at least better than the current contingent of 13 – if you include the government house leader and the Speaker.

And if Ghiz thinks 10 is enough, why doesn’t he reduce the size of his current cabinet?

Do we really need a government house leader. Isn’t that what the premier’s supposed to be doing?

And surely the government would function just as well without, say, a minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning. A couple of other portfolios could be doubled up, and then the 13 becomes 10, just like that.

So Redmond’s figures might be too drastic a change, but Crane’s suggestion of 21 to 23 MLAs is certainly workable.

Organizations: Morell-Mermaid MLA, Democrats

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