Premier assumes authority he doesn’t have

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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Healther Moyse with Premier Robert Ghiz during rally in Summerside Feb. 28, 2014.

Guest Opinion

Editor: May I suggest that the editorialist in your issue of March 5, 2014, got it wrong when the opinion was expressed that “L’affair Moyse blown out of all proportion.”

The premier, putting aside his best of intentions, did not simply “overstep normal protocols, process” as implied; he assumed an authority he did not have in law. The awarding of the Order of P.E.I. is a matter of law as passed by the provincial legislature.

The premier, on his own, cannot override this law, nor can he simply declare that “the original rules were flawed and the government will amend them.” (This statement, if reported correctly, doesn’t say much for the ability of the individually elected members of the legislature to make up their own minds.)

Our democracy doesn’t operate on the basis of the unanimous support for a course of action as expressed in the current governing party caucus.

Before you say “Me thinks he doth protest too much” may I remind you of the Watergate tragedy in the U.S.A. where the office of the president was too easily manipulated in affecting the rights of the citizens of that country.

Our governments at each level, i.e. municipal, provincial and federal, govern “with the consent of the governed: as expressed by the laws legitimately passed by the elected representatives of the people in each case. There is simply no other mechanism — no one person or other institution can speak for or act for our citizens except as provided in our laws. To allow such is the beginning of chaos. Mesmerized as we are about things in our past in this year of 2014, we would do well to remember the advice of our elders who declared, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

The solution to this sorry episode might be as follows:

1. The premier apologizes to the people of P.E.I. for his misplaced enthusiasm in attempting to award an honour he was not authorized to bestow.

2. The premier apologizes to Ms. Moyse for the same reason, but assuring her that it will be his great pleasure to nominate her to the committee responsible for the awarding of the honour.

3. The premier apologizes to the committee for the unfortunate publicity and debate concerning their role/function subsequent to his announcement.

In this way, the committee will once again be free to do its work; the law will have been followed; the premier may bring his desired amendments to the legislature for decision; and, without a doubt, Ms. Moyse will shortly be the recipient of the honour she so richly deserves.

It has often been said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” No one is above the law, no matter how pure the intention.

Patrick O. McWade,

Stratford

Geographic location: P.E.I., U.S.A.

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