A recommendation from elementary school children to have the red fox named P.E.I.’s provincial animal turned into accusations of vindictive politics in the legislative assembly Tuesday.
Independent MLA Bush Dumville called a bill to the floor Tuesday night that would see the red fox adopted as P.E.I.’s animal emblem.
Dumville told the media he expected the debate to be short.
Instead, Vernon River-Stratford MLA Alan McIsaac introduced an amendment to make the Holstein cow the province’s animal.
Dumville said McIsaac had mentioned the amendment to him before the debate started.
“I thought it was kind of a joke,” Dumville said.
It wasn’t a joke at all and McIsaac talked at great length on the floor of the house about the Holstein cow as he made his pitch for why it should be considered as the emblem.
That’s where the accusations of the Liberals playing politics came in.
The idea to name the fox as the emblem came from a Grade 5-6 class from Montague Consolidated School and students who presented to a legislative committee in October.
The committee supported the idea at the time and recommended the change.
Dumville said it was hard to know the motivation for the amendment, but he thought it would be a normal matter to have the bill pass and it seemed like a reasonable request.
“I’m surprised. I’m shocked,” he said.
Everybody was on side with the idea when the students presented it, Dumville said.
“I can’t really say if this is something to get back at me for leaving caucus or not.”
That’s exactly what Opposition MLA Matthew MacKay accused the Liberals of doing. He noted Liberals were on the committee that heard the students’ presentation in October.
“To come in and make a complete fool out of them and of the bill – you should be ashamed.”
MacKay said if the Liberals have a problem with someone who left their caucus and want to “take a run at him” there is a time and a place for that, but the debate of the bill wasn’t it.
“It’s an all-time low. These kids right now, they worked awful hard and deserve to be treated a lot better than this,” he said.
Speaking to the media, Opposition Leader James Aylward said it should have been a simple piece of legislation to move forward.
“Yet it just seems like there was some kind of vendetta that was put forward and again, I’m aghast at what happened tonight,” he said.
McIsaac told reporters he thinks the matter should go to the public and he didn’t think picking just one animal was right.
“Everybody may come forward with a differing opinion and that’s fine. That’s what democracy is about. Let’s have a debate on it is basically what we’re saying,” he said.
He also denied there were any political motivations behind his amendment.
MLAs did not vote on the amendment before Dumville adjourned debate.