Prince Edward Island legislature debates changing number of MLAs

Ryan Ross
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Province House

The debate over reviewing how many MLAs Prince Edward Island should have made its way to the legislature floor, but won’t go any further for now after the legislature closed for the winter.

Morell-Mermaid MLA Olive Crane brought her motion calling for the review up for debate Thursday and said it was important for the public to get involved in the conversation.

“I think it’s important that their voice is known,” she said.

Crane’s motion called for public consultations on potentially changing the number of MLAs in the province with a recommendation then sent on to Elections P.E.I.


There are 27 MLAs in the legislature in a province of about 145,000.

That means there are more than 5,300 people for every MLA compared to about 36,000 for each of P.E.I.’s MPs.

Crane said with the problems Islanders are facing she would expect to hear them say they need more money, not more politicians.

“I think now is the time, more than ever, that we start this discussion and allow people to give input and let somebody else make the final decision,” she said.

In order to get her motion on the floor, Crane needed someone to second it, which government house leader Sonny Gallant did, although when he rose to speak to it he said it didn’t mean he supported it.

Charlottetown-Victoria Park MLA Richard Brown also spoke to the motion Thursday and although he said it was good to have a debate about electoral reform every once in a while, he didn’t think there were too many MLAs.

Brown used New Hampshire, which has 400 representatives and 24 senators in its state legislature, as an example of a place with a lot of representation in government.

“More representation is better,” he said.

New Hampshire’s population is about 1.3 million, which means there are about 3,000 people for every elected state official.

Those officials are paid $200 per two-year term, plus mileage costs while the speaker of the house and the senate president make $250.

Brown said any Islander would say they know most of their MLAs and some of them can’t even go to the grocery without getting stopped by constituents.

“A lot of the time at Sobeys there is more politics going on in the aisleways than there is in the legislature of Prince Edward Island. We get more comments there.”

The debate adjourned for the day before Brown finished his comments and MLAs weren’t able to vote on the motion before the house closed for the winter Friday.

Organizations: Sobeys

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, New Hampshire

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Recent comments

  • Billy
    December 11, 2013 - 08:56

    Did crane actually say she wanted the number of MLAs reduced through this review? Don't think so. That 5300 quoted is population not the number of voters in each riding.

  • Head Shakin' Statistics
    December 11, 2013 - 07:33

    Here's a partial list of small Canadian cities that have a population either similar to or larger than Prince Edward Island. Each of these small cities has less than a tenth of PEI's political governance - as far as I know, the people in these towns do not have ten times our intelligence: Abbotsford, Barrie, Brampton (three times our population), Burlington, Burnaby, Cambridge, Coquitlam, Gatineau, Sudbury, Guelph, Halifax (well more than twice the population of PEI), Kingston, Kitchener, Langley, London, Longueuil, Lévis, Markham, Oakville, Oshawa, Richmond, Richmond Hill, St. Catharines, Surrey, Trois-Rivières, Vaughan, Whitby, Windsor. Here's a few cities - all of which have a lower and much less complex politician to resident ratio: Winnipeg (663,617), Vancouver (603,502), Toronto (2,615,060), Mississauga (713,443), Ottawa (883,391), Montreal, (1,649,519), Edmonton (812,201), Calgary (1,096,833). Imagine if these places had the same politician to resident ratio as PEI? It would be regarded as pure insanity. So, why is our ratio considered acceptable?

  • Upperdunker
    December 11, 2013 - 05:07

    If Richard Brown is suggesting that our MLA's get the same pay as those representatives in New Hampshire, I'm with him all the way. During this past year they haven't even merited that much pay.

  • I've an idea
    December 10, 2013 - 18:50

    Re-call the lot of 'em. Cut numbers in half. Have an election 2014.

  • Dundas Sue
    December 10, 2013 - 15:12

    We should have fewer MLAs, that is certain but we need enough so that debate can happen. What would a government run by 4 people be like; lets go back to the days beore responsible government!!!! Why not make them full time jobs and have about half the number.

    • Bev
      December 11, 2013 - 07:18

      Well said

  • don
    December 10, 2013 - 14:27

    maybe if they still want the 27 ok but lets cut out all perks. NO free cars,gas, meals, etc. most jobs today you drive your own car and get paid for mileage. just think of the money saved. and if they have to go on a trip for PEI they go but NO family goes on our tax's. they want family then family pays for the ticket. STOP THIS FREE LOADING. and NO candy bars paid for by the tax payers.

    • SO AGREE
      December 10, 2013 - 18:00

      Totally agree with u.

  • Garth Staples
    December 10, 2013 - 13:56

    The Old Boys on the payroll and the associated bureaucrats will never give part time jobs with full time pay. What a country. What's in it for me? There is no logic possible to this shameful condition.