An early election serves everyone, suggest Liberals

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Wade MacLauchlan puts on a new red jacket after the announcementof his P.E.I Liberal leadership bid as Robert Vessey, left, his campaign co-chairman looks on.

MacLauchlan turns tables on critics

The Liberal leadership convention isn’t until Feb. 20-21 and already the demands being placed on candidate Wade MacLauchlan are onerous indeed. They include: publish an independent audit of P.E.I. 2014 spending well in advance of a provincial election; commit to a PNP public inquiry; commit to following fixed-date election legislation; and commit to an April budget and June election. Etc. etc.

Granted, the odds are good that Mr. MacLauchlan will win the leadership of the provincial Liberal party and then be sworn in as premier shortly afterwards.

But today, he is Wade MacLauchlan, private citizen. The Liberal nomination deadline is Jan. 20 and who knows what might happen between now and Feb. 21. Until that time, does anyone seriously expect he should be making major government decisions? It would be foolhardy to start acting like a premier until it’s legally and constitutionally proper to do so. Robert Ghiz is still the elected premier of this province.

The politically astute course for Mr. MacLauchlan is to wait and that is what he is doing. To start making bold pronouncements now, he will appear overconfident, arrogant and taking things for granted.

Mr. MacLauchlan is trying to turn the tables on critics about the likelihood of Islanders going to the polls in April. They see an early call as blatantly opportunistic, and best suited to the fortunes of the Liberal party only.

When he was asked about widely circulating early election plans, and if he would adhere to fixed-date legislation, Mr. MacLauchlan parried those questions, saying his top priority is running for the leadership and he isn’t looking much farther ahead than that.

It’s going to be a well-rehearsed mantra that an early call is not just for the benefit of the Liberals but for all parties. Mr. MacLauchlan argues — with some logic — that come March 1, there is a chance that no leader of P.E.I.’s political parties will have a seat in the provincial legislature.

He argues that Islanders should pass their own judgment on new leaders and an unelected premier, before any major policy and legislative decisions are made. It’s a strong argument.

If Mr. MacLauchlan wins the leadership and becomes premier, and should Rob Lantz become PC leader, they would join NDP Leader Mike Redmond and Green leader Peter Bevan-Baker watching proceedings from outside the rail if the spring sitting of the House should proceed and an election is delayed.

Mr. MacLauchlan suggests it would be in the best interests of everyone to give all leaders the opportunity to win a seat or form a government at the earliest opportunity.

Of the demands being presented in recent days, a request for an audit of P.E.I. 2014 seems premature since its final event took place less than two weeks ago. But one suggestion does make sense. Since it appears a spring vote will be held before a budget is presented, Islanders should see fiscal statements or have a good idea of our most up-to-date financial situation before an election.

If, as Finance Minister Wes Sheridan suggests, he is on course to balancing the budget this spring, then he shouldn’t have any issues with providing those statements. In fact, he should welcome the opportunity.

At the very least, the auditor general should be given every resource to present as accurate a fiscal update as possible before election day.

The reason why the last election was delayed from the spring to the fall in 2011 was so the auditor general could provide Islanders with audited statements. Voters need to see the books before the April vote.

The blue books being presented in the next several weeks will provide some idea about our finances but they will be insufficient by April.

A fiscal statement before an election shouldn’t depend upon the consent of Mr. MacLauchlan or the government. A prior, firm commitment was made to provide them and must be fulfilled.

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Recent comments

  • Darcie Lanthier
    January 12, 2015 - 23:06

    In Canada we do not elect Prime Ministers or Premiers, we elect representatives and we have them now. When Robert Ghiz resigns, there should be a by-election in District 13 which will suit Rob Lantz perfectly and it would be customary for an MLA to step down and offer Wade a seat his district. The rest of this tale is self serving nonsense.

  • sentance
    January 12, 2015 - 18:12

    With the financial year end not coming for several months yet it seems a bit of a stretch to hope the Provincial auditor would be able to do anything authoritative before summer. Even coming up with audited books by the fall for a fall election several years ago was an effort. In any case, as far as the effort to balance the budget is concerned, the auditors report on whether that gets accomplished or not won't be available until about January 2017. Even if the election is preceded by a budget, we'll only have the governments word on whether that will happen regardless.

    • Bert
      January 13, 2015 - 07:17

      I am sure the Auditor General had the resources she could have the statements out prior to the fixed election date. I believe that at a public accounts meeting she requested more resources. This lack of resources was a way Ghiz could hide /pospone the bad news. Each voter should demand to see the audited statements before an election is called, because Wes can't be trusted with all his lies.

  • Stupid Islander
    January 12, 2015 - 15:45

    Yes no audited statement, no audited statement for 2014 party.One can't put any blame on King Wade but Islanders can hold all current Liberal MLA'S responsibile for ineptness for past 7 years. I wonder how many will quit as they know the writing is on the wall. Oh by the way, they got pension, pnp and really don't care and never did. Please Islanders don't be stupid again.

  • judith
    January 12, 2015 - 15:17

    there we go again,-- the Guardian promoting Lantz, the silver spoon, blue blazer boy from Brighton. rural PEI. watch who you vote for at the convention.

  • Angus
    January 12, 2015 - 13:58

    There will be no 'audited' fiscal statement statement signed off on by the AG. Trust me on this. They don't dare.

  • Garth Staples
    January 12, 2015 - 13:37

    and should Rob Lantz become PC leader OR Darlene Compton