© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Premier Wade MacLauchlan.
Group calls on premier to restore Islanders’ confidence in system
Prince Edward Island is unique within Canada for being a small place that enjoys the full benefits of jurisdictional authority and responsible government. Achieving that status stands - even after 164 years - as one of the great accomplishments of the Liberal Party on P.E.I., and since that time political parties of all stripes have affirmed their commitment to retaining our position as a self-governing province. Further, passing on that legacy has been one of the great, shared projects of our political establishment. But today the continued success of that project seems more imperilled than ever before.
In recent years, right-wing think tanks and federal politicians have been turning up the heat in their call for Maritime Union, and in recent days, the gaze of the national media has begun to focus on the issue of our fitness for self-governance. While it is easy to feel as though our unique status is under attack from outside forces, the real threat is an internal one. The irresponsible use (and abuse) of our jurisdictional powers provides the single best argument for stripping us of our special status. And that argument is presently being made.
The national media is now shining a spotlight on allegations of influence peddling, graft, and the abuse of jurisdictional authority within our provincial government, which have been the topic of whispered conversations for years within our province. Charges of this nature are, of course, not unique to our province, and all fair-minded Islanders will also acknowledge that they are not unique to the current administration. However, they do present a unique challenge for our new premier.
Transparency and accountability are prerequisites for responsible government, and Premier Wade MacLauchlan can affirm his commitment to that tradition by doing everything in his power to provide the public with a transparent view of government’s actions – past and present. By taking personal responsibility for providing the citizenry with this transparency, the premier will ensure that the public can make informed decisions in our upcoming election. But perhaps more importantly, he will have a transformational impact on P.E.I.’s political culture, while making a strong argument on the national stage for our responsible use of jurisdictional authority. The alternative is for the second act of this national story is one on abuse of power - a story of cover-up and abdication of responsibility.
And so, as Islanders we call on Premier MacLauchlan to protect the continued viability of responsible government within this province by sending a clear message that government malfeasance and influence peddling (or even the appearance of such) must be thoroughly investigated in order to maintain faith in our fitness for self-governance.
A pre-election promise to have the understaffed Auditor General investigate the e-gaming issue, combined with a curious reluctance even to glance sideways at the PNP file, falls far short of what is required to restore Islanders confidence in the system. Lip service to transparency is not enough. The whole Island, and the whole country, is looking for signs of a leader who will act on principle and strike a blow against the creeping cynicism. The time is ripe.
By ‘The Vision Initiative’
Marion Reid, Charlottetown; Ryan McKenna, 48 Road; Sharon Myers, St. Patrick’s Road; and Dale Small, Rice Point, wrote this article on behalf of The Vision Initiative, a non-partisan group of Islanders committed to creative public discourse about the future of the province.