Editor: Thank you for your December 6 editorial that discusses my long-standing proposal of a total of 15 MLAs for the P.E.I. legislative assembly.
You suggest that I have stated a provincial cabinet must have six ministers. Actually in my recent response to a Journal-Pioneer editorial I stated that five — the premier and four others — could do the job. Your editorial encourages me to review my recent arguments to The Journal Pioneer on this topic.
The number 15 provides more than enough people to be cabinet ministers and other MLAs to do committee work. A premier, whose caucus has eight or less MLAs, can choose cabinet ministers from the other MLAs outside of his or her own caucus. Excessive partisanship has given us patronage, bad policy decisions, huge public debt, and failed programs. A mixed cabinet could focus government on the business of the public rather than the back room priorities of a political party.
Large government caucuses and cabinets have not served Islanders well. After almost seven years in power, the misguided and self-serving Ghiz government of 23 MLAs with 13 in cabinet has brought us to a very low point. The debt is crippling, a billion dollars added by the Liberals over six budgets. The Ghiz government has responded to their record of mismanagement with the HST, increased small business taxation, higher fees on many services, and deep cuts to the pensions of public sector workers.
We have the worst educational outcomes in Canada and in the whole western world, among a long list of negatives for P.E.I. Your conclusion that my proposal would bring dysfunction and gridlock gives more credit than deserved to what has actually been done by governments and legislatures over the last several decades in this province.
Partisanship is crushing us. And when it comes to political representation bigger is definitely not better. We need a serious debate about changing the size and role of the legislature.
Thanks for moving this debate along.
Leader, NDP P.E.I.