© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Olive Crane. FILE PHOTO
Independent MLA Olive Crane says she needs more airtime in the legislature to be able to do her job.
Crane says she is frustrated with the brief amount of time she has been allotted, and feels she needs more time to discuss and debate issues that are important to Islanders.
She has formally requested more time during question period and for motions.
“I’m in Opposition, I take the job seriously and I’m hoping the speaker will give me more time.”
Crane has been granted time for one oral question and two supplementary questions on Tuesdays and Thursdays when the house is in session. She also gets one half hour for motions for every eight weeks of a sitting.
Meanwhile, all MLAs can submit written questions to cabinet ministers at any time during the year.
Crane has used this privilege to her advantage by tabling written questions every day, directly after question period. She did so during the fall session too, and never misses a day, despite the fact she has no paid staff.
As a result, she has tabled over 200 written questions and approximately 100 supplementary questions over the last year, covering every government department and the premier’s office.
Her questions cover a wide variety of topics, such as travel costs for off-Island health services; water quality testing; physical medicine needs for special needs children and the removal of propane tanks in Charlottetown.
But although government has been providing brief responses to her written questions, Crane says she is finding it difficult to get the issues she raises out into the public.
“It’s so frustrating when you think of some of the different issues that you’re trying to raise,” Crane said.
“A lot of my questions, if you go through the written material, they are absolutely good questions for Islanders from tip to tip and we need answers… I’ve actually had people call me up and say either, ‘Why did you not raise the issue?’ or ‘Have you got an answer yet,’ so I have to try another vehicle, so I’m hoping the speaker will give me more time.”
Speaker Carolyn Bertram has the final say on how time is allotted in the P.E.I. legislature. She said Friday she would consider Crane’s request and discuss it with her and the legislative management committee.
But since an agreement was made prior to the current sitting about time allotment for members of the assembly, nothing will change for the current session, Bertram said.