Tuesday in the P.E.I Legislature turned out to be a waste of time – and it appears it was done intentionally.
A vote calling for the government to implement proportional representation never happened, because a few members of the Liberal government spent so much time talking, the evening session was over before MLAs could vote.
Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker tabled a motion calling for the government to honour the results of the recent plebiscite and implement Mixed Member Proportional Representation (MMP). The Progressive Conservative Opposition caucus gave up their allotted time to debate the motion.
Despite having some reservations about MMP, PC MLA Sidney MacEwen seconded the motion, saying, “The people have spoken and I think we have to listen.”
He’s right. Islanders, at least the ones who voted (and they’re the only ones who count), voted for a new electoral system, but now the Liberal government seems to be ignoring the electorate.
After Bevan-Baker’s motion, Transportation Minister Paula Biggar stated she would not support it, citing concerns about the low voter turnout.
The winning option for electoral reform in her riding was clearly MMP, however, she said she must represent all her constituents, including those who didn’t vote. But if they didn’t vote, how does Biggar know which option they favour? She can only be certain of the ones who did vote, and in her riding, the majority of those picked MMP.
Obviously those who didn’t vote, didn’t have an opinion or don’t care and could hardly accuse Biggar of not representing them if she had supported the Green Party member’s motion.
After the Transportation minister was finished, Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy rose to speak for over a half hour about her struggle to come to terms with the plebiscite results.
Why the struggle? The majority voted to change the electoral process. So change it. End of story/struggle.
After all the talk, Mundy still didn’t indicate whether or not she would support the motion to implement the plebiscite results.
Next up was Liberal backbencher Jordan Brown who used up the remaining 56 minutes of the evening session talking about his role on the special committee that held public consultations on electoral reform last year. And after talking for almost an hour, it was still unclear how he would have voted on the motion.
Bevan-Baker said he believes the Liberals deliberately used up the time to prevent the vote from happening. It certainly looked that way.
Perhaps the next motion for the P.E.I. legislature should be one to recall MLAs who are not using the legislative sessions to deliberate on the issues in a proper manner.