Premier Robert Ghiz says Maritime union would be a mistake

Ryan Ross
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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.

RELATED: NDP MP Peter Stoffer supports Maritime union

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.”

Organizations: Maritime union

Geographic location: Canada, Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • JL
    February 01, 2015 - 20:31

    Ah, Mr. Ghiz and Mr. Kays fearmongering as usual. Maritime Union has always made sense. It did yesterday, it does today, and it will tomorrow. PEI will always be an island and for a government it could easily (and affordably) be run as a regional municipality. But it doesn't have to be a province. Think about it, 50% of a provincial budget goes to health care, and a good chunk of the remainder gets divided between elementary & secondary education, post-secondary education, transportation, and various regulatory functions. Islanders lose a huge amount of spending on health care and education to trying to prop up a provincial bureaucracy that oversees our health authority and 2 school boards. And that very same bureaucracy is triplicated only a 3 hour drive away in Fredericton and Halifax. Under Maritime Union, we would still have a health authority and school boards but none of the bureaucratic largesse that supports it.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    January 28, 2015 - 11:30

    Without criticism society stagnates into squalor. There will be no easing up of the criticism, at least not on my part. I am of like mind with Mr. Ghiz on this subject of Maritime or Atlantic Union (I call him Mr Ghiz when I agree with him and Ghizzy when I don't). It would be a grave mistake. Sticking to policies is always a good idea. Sticking to campaign promises is also a good thing. Why did he not do either? It is my belief that it should be public policy that our leaders are held to impeccable moral standards and ethics, that they can be an example for our children.

  • Cromwell
    January 27, 2015 - 20:00

    Mr. Ghiz' s comment on a Maritime union '“I believe it would be a huge mistake,” is provided entirely on behalf of the Island's elite families, who would lose most of the benefits they currently gain if PEI were to lose Provincial status. Under his 'leadership', over the course of the last two terms, Ghiz and the Liberal Party have increased PEI's debt load from ~ $1 billion in 2007 to almost $3 billion in 2014. Only the Island's elite families (and their business partners) have prospered during this period, with many Islanders forced off Island to find work.. A Maritime Union, which was the subject of the 1864 meeting in Charlottetown (the first discussions on the possibilities of Confederation were in Quebec City in December, 1864), and which Mr. Ghiz et al wasted some $30 million of taxpayer's money falsely celebrating, makes economic sense for all three Atlantic provinces, and should be pursued. However, Mr. MacLauchlan, soon to be crowned Premier, who is also a member of one of PEI's elite families, will no doubt fight against the logic of a Maritime Union, in order to protect the financial interests of kith and kin.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      January 28, 2015 - 12:57

      Cromwell, while I agree that Mr Ghiz's motive may be different than mine, I am just glad that Maritime Union isn't happening today. I agree with the rest of your comment. Well said.

  • bert
    January 27, 2015 - 19:52

    This meeting must have been very brief , if Robert spoke on the list of his Governments accomplishments.

  • Resident
    January 27, 2015 - 16:08

    Maritime Union makes sense for Canada. But it doesn't make sense for provincial government employees of each province. Just think how many people will loose their government jobs in Maritime if we consolidate everything. And since the government is the largest driver for our economy (salaries, taxes, contracts for private sector), we would experience a crisis as we had never seen before. People will flee, and this will result in a loss of real estate values, reduction of services, healthcare, school closures, and so on... Is this what you are looking for? The alternative, is to have a smart government here, which instead of reinventing the bicycle in every area, borrow and implements proven best practices and policies from other provinces.

    • Poor Excuse
      January 27, 2015 - 17:53

      There is absolutely nothing to back up your fear mongering. Typical baseless argument against a Maritime union. Less government jobs would be a good thing.

    • Observer
      January 27, 2015 - 18:24

      A very well written commentary; and I agre fully with all of your comments!

    • Sven
      January 27, 2015 - 19:08

      I'm not sure we're a Province so we can have a bunch of Government employees. I like to think we're more than that.

  • Gosh
    January 27, 2015 - 15:21

    And they clapped for this man - and the pap he came up with---

  • yolanda
    January 27, 2015 - 15:17

    PEI could be heaven on earth with the right management. Starting with cutting the MLAs half, paying them at a reasonable rate, RSP pension to be taken with them when the leave, and no severance pay out. Reducing te number of deputy ministers and directors and paying them according to our local wages. No double earned pension and no severance package for anyone. Salary and pensions are basic, as for every one else. However, the most important part I to elect people with intelligence and integrity no motivated by greed and influence, not motivate by having a career, but rather b offering to serve a stint or two for the good all.. It is up to us to use OUR intelligence to make this come through by voting in our own best interest not that of the rich and powerful, - which has gotten thereby greed and manipulation. Stand up for yourselves for once.

  • and
    January 27, 2015 - 13:34

    Why would any woman continue to live here when the government hates women and denies them basic human dignity? Crimes against humanity.

  • reality
    January 27, 2015 - 12:57

    The Island -- GENTLY providing pnp, pnp , less health care, more HST AND h--S--T, more patronage , more deceit , more ego , financial mismanagement, freebies to the friends families and supportes - Maritime union would severely hinder politicians ( lib, cons,etc)from partaking in their pig troughs

  • real canadian
    January 27, 2015 - 12:10

    Whatever Ghiz says go opposite he screwed everything up so far don't let him screw this up to has he ever done anything good or PEI I say not just good for his family and friends pocket

    January 27, 2015 - 10:30

    “The ability to control our own education system, our own health-care system, our own social programs, to chart our own future,” he said. (Robert Ghiz quote) With these three issues, we are probably last in Canada. Having a Maritime union would bring us up to the standard of the rest of the country. These are reasons to form a union, not reasons to not have one. 27 MLAs? Are you crazy? That's why politicans don't want a Maritime Union, that would be the end of their gravy train. Plain and Simple!

  • Jim
    January 27, 2015 - 10:27

    “The ability to control our own education system, our own health-care system, our own social programs, to chart our own future,” Surely proponents of a Maritime Union did not factor such trade-offs into their analysis. (joke)

  • Garth Staples
    January 27, 2015 - 10:19

    What have we to lose? We have the highest taxes, lowest wages, an educational system that produces horrible results. We are a patient of the NS and NB healthcare systems rather than a partner. We have a bloated government system. Union would see us exercising our strengths and support for our weaknesses. Wake up folks and yes you too Robert.

  • al
    January 27, 2015 - 10:05

    pei didn't join Canada until it went bankrupt so we wont have martime union until we are bankrupt

  • Hello!
    January 27, 2015 - 08:50

    A Maritime Union? Why don't we hear about the possible benefits of entering a union, especially for a already struggling PEI? "Lose control of health and education' : Does Ghiz not pay attention?? PEI has the lowest scores in reading, math, and science to the rest of the country! Health care; we do rely on other provinces to treat and care for our more acute health care needs, for referrals, specialist's, second opinions, etc.. Maybe what we really need is a different approach or perspective. I want to see both sides, presently fairly, and so, we, Islanders can chose what we want in the end !

    • Jack Loo
      January 27, 2015 - 10:31

      We already have lost control of health and education same as we lost control of our finances as well with Ghiz's government. Not sure what the difference would be other than old boys clubs in our provincial politics would be gone.

  • SlyFox
    January 27, 2015 - 08:28

    Ghiz said he still thinks politics is a noble calling. Now this is truly funny.:)

  • Al
    January 27, 2015 - 08:09

    That's what they said before pei joined Canada .wouldn't join until bankrupt than no choise .same with maritime union.

  • art
    January 27, 2015 - 08:05

    Who really cares what Robert Ghiz has to say. He is in the past but will always be remembered for putting the Province to near bankruptcy and running a corrupt Government. Great job Mr.Ghiz.

  • Broke
    January 27, 2015 - 07:50

    A bankrupt province may have no choice but to join a Maritime Union. There's no equality for insolvency. Thanks For the legacy Ghiz.

  • Truth for once!!
    January 27, 2015 - 07:40

    Who ever wrote this speech for Ghiz, is correct in that Maritime Union would be a huge mistake for the Island in many ways! For once he spoke the truth; instead of the many lies that he has told Islanders in the past: such as: a doctor for every Islander, no HST, doing away with patronage, honoring written contracts, PNP, Plan B among many others! Good ridence!!!!

  • Armpit of the Maritimes
    January 27, 2015 - 07:11

    If maritime union goes through we will become the armpit of the Maritimes. Robert Ghiz and his group of trough feeders have pushed us into a corner and other provinces may even demand a union of some sort but an honest government giving an honest effort for 8 years might be able to save us. MIGHT

    • AnonymousIslander
      January 27, 2015 - 08:49

      No government under the current structure will save us in the long run. We are simply overgoverened, and we have all enjoyed our time at the trough under this system. Maritime union is an appropriate arrangement given our population and economy, but as long as there are sloppers like Mr Ghiz and company ready and willing to gorge at the trough we will continue. Dr. Alan Wilson educated me once in the nature of political particularism, the willingness of a politician to further his (their) needs at the expense of a greater good. PEI is a perfect case study.

    • The truth
      January 27, 2015 - 10:11

      You mean we aren't already considered the armpit of the Maritimes?

  • stupid voter
    January 27, 2015 - 06:14

    i voted for Ghiz

    • Me too
      January 27, 2015 - 09:46

      ... You're not alone.

  • Jim
    January 27, 2015 - 05:19

    Maritime Union may be the only way we will survive the hole this government has dug for us. Too many like Robert Ghiz been gathered around the trough.

  • Jim
    January 26, 2015 - 23:06

    "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." That's a circular argument. Just repeating the premise.

    • What he means
      January 27, 2015 - 13:25

      If we weren't a province, no one would bleeping care what the bleep you thought, so in the end you would be worse off than before and once you figured that out, there is no amount of whining that would fix it.