Fixed election date comment draws ire of Green party leader

Teresa Wright
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Green Party Leader Peter Bevan Baker speaks to reporters after throne speech in this Guardian file photo.

Premier Robert Ghiz’s assertion that his biggest mistake as premier was bringing in fixed election dates has caught the ire of Green party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker.

Bevan-Baker argues the province’s democratic institutions were designed to ensure the will of the people is reflected in the legislature.

“The Westminster style of democracy we adopted here in Canada came from a desire to take power away from an unopposed monarch and pass it to the people. Over centuries we have arrived at the electoral system we now use where every adult citizen has an opportunity every four years or so to elect the people they prefer to make our collective decisions,” Bevan-Baker said.

“The painful irony of our current situation on P.E.I. is that by political sleight of hand, Liberals, in crowning King Wade (MacLauchlan), are effectively restoring the unrestricted regal power our democracy sought to eliminate,” said Bevan-Baker.

He pointed out Alberta, which currently has a similar political situation to P.E.I., has seen no need to return to the polls to allow their new premier Jim Prentice to seek a mandate.

“The P.E.I. Liberal attempts to explain the ‘need for an election’ are all bogus nonsense, and have no basis in democratic principles. I only wish that more Islanders would recognize it for what it is naked political opportunism,” said Bevan-Baker.

“The Westminster style of democracy we adopted here in Canada came from a desire to take power away from an unopposed monarch and pass it to the people." Green party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker

For Premier Ghiz to call fixed election dates his ‘biggest mistake’ in the context of PNP, Plan B and the Geosweep debacle, is baffling to say the least, he added.

Fixed election dates are a definite improvement to our democracy - they even the playing field, remove political opportunism available to governing parties and allow all parties to prepare financially and otherwise, Bevan-Baker asserts.

They also encourage a wider array of potential candidates to come forward, he said.

Far from Ghiz’s biggest mistake, Bevan-Baker believes fixed election dates could be looked upon as one small glimmer of good governance.

“How about a New Year’s resolution for all Islanders to give up once and for all a really bad habit, one that we have developed over many elections and passed from one generation to the next. Let’s quit voting for people and parties who, above all, look after themselves, and have consistently let us down,” he said.

“It’s time to elect parliamentarians who will carry out their roles as they were originally designed to represent their constituents first and foremost, and abandon mindless slavery to their party.”

Geographic location: Westminster, Canada, Alberta

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Recent comments

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    January 06, 2015 - 13:13

    Ghiz's biggest mistake was PLAN B, followed by the PNP. I am not for any particular party as I abhor the current, party politics model, but I like what I hear from Baker. At least Baker understands where we came from, how our system was adopted and the goals it meant to achieve. Our political system has fallen very short of the mark set out by our founding fathers.

  • david
    January 06, 2015 - 12:09

    So his ire is drawn is it? This story is so funny imagine the Leader of a Party whose party gets maybe 3% public support on a good day has his ire drawn by the elected premier and the media actually covers it. Either this is an unusually slow news day or else the media needs to really rethink it's headlines because if this story gets headline then so should the story of the lady who upset about the price of alcohol or the person who is upset because you can't drink and drive on PEI. Not io mention this leader has openly come out and supported one of the new Liberal Leadership candidates so really is his plans to merge the Greens with the Liberals.Maybe if Baker actually came with a hairs chance of getting elected his views might be worth taking seriously but really his ire is drawn the best laugh I have had all day.

  • Joe Macdonald
    January 06, 2015 - 11:58

    I think me sees a leader who is having problems attracting candidates, and is sputtering on with his usual upset.These fixed election dates are not necessary, as our parliament has to respond to the people elected... they need to have the power to defeat a government and thus call an election, and certainly when a new leader of the liberal party is chosen he will need to go to the polls as early as possible so as to gain his own mandate, otherwise he is basically a lame duck...I think Ghiz despite his many, many short comings is correct to point out that his fixed election date was a mistake. Are the greens going to hold any nomination meetings or do they just appoint people to run?

  • paul
    January 06, 2015 - 08:38

    This has been this governments way since the start of 2007 . DO WANT THEY WANT. That sums it up . I could go on for pages but no need . The people of PEI are getting what this group are about and in 4 months or 12 , it won't matter they WILL get kicked to the curb

  • Miss Onisty
    January 06, 2015 - 08:17

    I sure hope Peter Bevan Baker is elected in the next election. He is the most capable and honest politician to come along in years. Ghiz was the worst and likely resigned because he thought the RCMP report on the PNP would have him arrested.

  • Wade the Benevolent Usurper
    January 05, 2015 - 21:58

    If the Lt. Governor accepts MacLauchlan’s requests, Prince Edward Island’s Legislative Assembly, having a democratic mandate to govern, will be dissolved using kingly power -- Royal Prerogative -- on the advice of a benevolent usurper who only a moment prior could not walk into a government building without a “visitor” pass. Section 4.1 (1) of the Elections Act states: “Nothing in this section affects the powers of the Lieutenant Governor, including the power to dissolve the Legislative Assembly, by proclamation in Her Majesty’s name, when the Lieutenant Governor sees fit.” So far everyone has assumed the Lt. Governor will "see fit" to call an election because MacLauchlan asked for one. And I don't disagree that this is a near certainty, but it is unprecedented and it does require the use of kingly power to override, if not in totality, the precepts of responsible government. I'm surprised this hasn't drawn the ire of Dave Bulger or any of the UPEI poli sci profs.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      January 06, 2015 - 13:20

      I agree. Where are all the profs and lawyers?

  • Dan
    January 05, 2015 - 21:55

    He's 100% right. The purpose of fixed election dates is to provide a level playing field for all political actors. While Ghiz has repeatedly said the date could move, he always indicated it would move to April 2016. On Dec 4, 2013 The Guardian quoted Ghiz as saying "I can confirm the election is going to be in April of 2016.” In the context of a fixed election date, that's a pretty clear and unequivocal statement to other political parties and the public -- everyone was told to anticipate the government taking nearly all of its constitutional 5 year term. Fairness in elections is paramount and while it may be accepted to let your opponents think something that is a misconception, the premier cannot flatly mislead the public on something as fundamental as the fairness of our electoral process. While some on the government side may say that fixed election date legislation doesn't handle this type of situation, the reality is that the legislation was designed to prevent majority governments inventing a pretence for a snap election. Newfoundland's law was written in 2004 and explicitly deals with mid-term changes in the premiership. In that province the new premier is granted 12 months before an election must be held. The Nfld legislation has already informed the transfer of power to two caretaker premiers (Kathy Dunderdale taking over from Danny Williams before winning the party leadership and Tom Marshall, who held the post for nine months before handing over authority to Paul Davis.) Similarly, a caretaker premier was sworn into office in Alberta following the resignation of former Premier Alison Redford. Dave Hancock was selected by the government caucus to serve as premier on an interim basis. “The mandate doesn’t change. It’s the mandate of government, it’s the mandate which MLAs were elected under and that’s what we will continue to do until the party finishes its process in selecting a new leader,” Hancock told media. Hancock successfully transferred authority to the winner of his party’s leadership race, Jim Prentice, who has abided by Alberta’s fixed election date law and did not call a snap election, even though he was not an MLA and required his own seat. As you know, Prentice recently won a by-election to sit in the house. Again, in British Columbia, the governing NDP caucus nominated Dan Miller as caretaker premier, who served for six months. Miller successfully transferred authority to his new party leader and Premier Ujjal Dosanjh. All provinces except for Nova Scotia have fixed election date laws and the fixed date has been respected in all 9 provinces that have had the date come up, except for minority governments which lost the confidence of the house in Ontario and Quebec.

  • country boy
    January 05, 2015 - 20:12

    You are ahead of your time Peter.Honesty, Integrity and putting your constituency first. What a revolutionary thought from a potential politician. I wish that the Island would disband all parties. Then we could vote for individuals and from them, the elected would select the premier. This way, the Island would be governed by consensus. Why have parties in such a small place.

    • fafafooey
      January 06, 2015 - 10:36

      Yes, he's ahead of his time alright.....not many politicians can say they strapped themselves to a tree and got charged for trespassing.

    • John
      January 06, 2015 - 11:51

      Actually, that didn't happen. He was on crown land, legally. Not strapped to a tree. But, just out of curiosity, how is that relevant? Even if that were in fact accurate, which of course it can be proven that it isn't, how is that WORSE than what you can say about the Liberals?

    • Roger
      January 06, 2015 - 11:53

      Peter may be the man to restore Islander's faith in their government. He is sensible, calm and intelligent. He will be the one to watch in the coming election.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      January 06, 2015 - 13:17

      Fafafooey, who are you really? PARTY BASHER. He at least had the backbone to do it and he told us his name.