I’m not sure if Premier Robert Ghiz participates in Secret Santa, a Christmas tradition in which a group of people randomly select the name of a colleague or friend and anonymously purchase a gift for that person.
If so, I don’t want him drawing my name. Who knows what he might buy me? In fact, the premier’s gift could end up being a tease, simply a promise to give me a present.
Which is what he did a week ago when Summerside feted hometown gal and Olympic gold medallist Heather Moyse.
The premier, perhaps blinded by the glare from the gold medal around Ms. Moyse’s neck, proclaimed she was to become a member of the Order of Prince Edward Island. The audience clapped enthusiastically and Ms. Moyse responded politely. The moment was grand.
But try, wish, long, push and shove as much as he wanted, Premier Ghiz was actually not in a position to proclaim Ms. Moyse a member of the Order of P.E.I.
He did indeed announce she was going to become a member but he didn’t present her with any of the documentation or the trappings that go along with becoming a member of the highly respected order.
A few days later that pledge became a bit awkward when it was pointed out his promise goes against the rules and procedures established when the order was created. And the rules aren’t confusing, in fact they are very straight forward.
To nominate someone to join the order you simply send in a recommendation. When the deadline ends for nominations, they are reviewed by a respected panel of Islanders and the year’s inductees are named. Everything is done above board and everyone is appeased.
The problem with the premier’s pledge is that the deadline to nominate someone for 2014 is not until March 28. And after that deadline closes, it will take a while for the panel to select this year’s nominees, if we are to believe all nominations are given fair consideration.
When it was pointed out to the premier he jumped the gun on the announcement, he said no problem; he would change the legislation to allow for Ms. Moyse to join the order this year. Notice I didn’t say the premier said “rules be damned,” but that’s what it sounded like to many Islanders.
Ms. Moyse is an outstanding athlete and representative of her city and province so I doubt she has been sulking at the fact she doesn’t have a signed and sealed certificate saying she is in the order.
But here’s some advice to Premier Ghiz: don’t try that tactic on Christmas morning. It would be the equivalent of someone opening their gift and reading a promise that a gift is in the mail. It likely wouldn’t fly, much like the time an aunt gave me a stocking cap in a gift exchange at Christmas and I threw it back at her.
Some say rules are made to be broken. In some cases that may be so, but in this case when the rules don’t satisfy the province’s most powerful person so he plans to change them to get his way, an obvious question has to be asked: why would he do that? No one likes to see someone jump the queue.
Many say the Order of P.E.I. flap is much ado about nothing, that Ms. Moyse belongs in the order and was always going to get there. They are correct. Ironically, I am sure someone would have nominated her before the March 28 deadline and she would have been a shoo-in to join.
The premier should do the right thing, let someone else nominate our Olympic champion and allow her to join the order on her own merit, not under the threat of legislation. And he should remember what he was likely told at one time or another: the road to Summerside isn’t always paved with good intentions.
Gary MacDougall is managing editor of The Guardian. He can be reached by telephone at (902) 629-6039; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter @GaryGuardian.