The Special Committee on Democratic Renewal is in the midst of a second round of public consultations on how Islanders could best elect its representatives to the legislature. On Saturday, Feb. 20, The Guardian published an article on this derived from a meeting it held in Morell on Feb. 11. It provided a very skewed picture of this process and those participating in it. It focused on how poorly attended this meeting was and highlighted the view of two of the attendees who seemed pleased with the present system.
The meeting, which this committee held at the Murphy Centre two days previously, would have projected a much different picture. It was well-attended despite it being a storm day. There was productive suggestions made and lively discussion arising from these suggestions. The clear consensus was that change was necessary.
All agreed that public education was a critical component to the process regardless of the outcome. An informed public has a much better chance of making a good decision. Media outlets had been invited to Murphy Centre meeting but none felt it worth sending a representative.
In the public opinion page in the same edition of The Guardian, committee member Sidney MacEwen placed a letter that “public perception is that the last plebiscite in 2005 didn’t get a fair chance and that we have a chance to do it right this time.” It is very difficult to do it right if Islanders face the same obstacles that were evident in 2005: an ambivalent government and a disinterested press. It is their responsibility to not look at this only through the lens of political expediency or newsworthiness.
They must become active partners in the discussion if we hope to approach the upcoming plebiscite with any degree of integrity.