When it comes to Maritime union, Premier Robert Ghiz thinks P.E.I. should have no part of it.
In his annual state of the province address Monday night in Charlottetown, Ghiz said P.E.I. needs to look at its role within Canada and all the benefits that come from being an equal partner within Confederation.
“I believe it would be a huge mistake,” he said.
Every year since taking office Ghiz has delivered a state of the province address to members of P.E.I.’s Rotary clubs.
With Ghiz announcing his resignation in November, this year’s speech had an air of a going away party as Ghiz highlighted what he saw as many of his government’s accomplishments over his time in office.
Most were often repeated Liberal talking points, such as the introduction of Kindergarten in schools and increased health-care spending.
But he also spent part of his speech addressing the idea of Maritime union, which reared its head again recently when NDP MP Peter Stoffer suggested it as a way for provinces in the region to save money and allow for more public services.
Ghiz said if P.E.I. lost its place as an equal partner in Canada the province would lose the status it enjoys within the country and around the world.
“The ability to control our own education system, our own health-care system, our own social programs, to chart our own future,” he said.
During his speech Ghiz reflected on his career saying that serving in public office and leading the province as premier has been a privilege.
“I knew that when we made decisions it was going to be impossible to keep everyone happy all the time but I truly believe that debate is important,” he said.
There will be a lot of debate over the next few months, Ghiz said, with changes to political party leaderships and an election campaign coming up and he encouraged everyone in the room to get involved in those debates.
He also said for them to be a little more constructive when it comes to supporting candidates, no matter what their political stripe.
“Ease up on the criticism.”
Everyone has an opportunity to be able to influence public policy, he said.
“Stay away from the mud slinging. Stay away from the personal attacks. Stick to policies.”
Ghiz said he still thinks politics is a noble calling.
“While politicians will be criticized and we need to be thick skinned it is something that we truly need,” he said.
With an election looming Ghiz urged the people in attendance to be respectful of everyone’s opinions.
“I know my opinion hasn’t been the right one on a number of occasions and I’ve been criticized for it and that’s fine.”