Editor: Peter Bevan-Baker’s December 16 letter criticizing my proposal for a reduction to 15 MLAs, makes an argument for proportional representation, without acknowledging the biggest problem of P.E.I. politics — too many politicians serving partisan political interests, and wasting resources and opportunities.
Mr. Bevan-Baker imagines that a large number of MLAs provides a check on the power of the Premier’s Office, a misconception of the last several decades of P.E.I. political history. Large cabinets expend huge resources horse trading among themselves, and catering to the whims of MLAs for support and applause in the legislature.
He cites a lack of political vision and patronage as contributors to poor performance in government, but fails to understand what causes these problems. For decades, the election of a new majority government has meant enriching a few key power holders. Cabinet ministers and MLAs scramble to serve the power brokers who have financed them and will look out for them in the future.
Not only wasteful, it is harmful to the reputation of our provincial public sector. The ruling party distracts the public service from the best options for Islanders and toward benefits for special interests — the PNP cash grab, the Plan B manipulation, the HST deception, and so on.
In all these cases, better options were available, but the premier and abinet chose those that served special interests. Liberal MLAs clapped along with every one of these moves. As for Mr. Bevan-Baker’s aspersions to problems with our “bureaucracy”, it is not justifiable to blame public sector workers for the actions of a domineering political party.
We must change what being an MLA on P.E.I. means. We must reduce the size of the legislature. We want smaller cabinets working harder, too busy solving problems to cater to vested interests. We want fewer MLAs cheering and waiting for cabinet promotions. We want a few dedicated back-bench MLAs focusing on legislation and accountability.
Leader, NDP PE.I.