By Dan Aiken
It's become more and more clear in recent years that Islanders are concerned about the direction of our province.
Producers from a range of industries are concerned about higher costs, lower paycheques, and the erosion of a lifestyle that has persevered for generations. Students emerge from university and college in search of opportunities that are too few and far between. We've seen the spread of dangerous drugs and addictions while community centres close and the paint peels away.
Some of the challenges we face were thrust upon us by a changing global economy, though some of these issues are distinctly our own and the responsibility is ours to acknowledge and address these challenges.
Prince Edward Island is a truly unique and incredible place to call home. Yet, if we are not vigilant in our vision for the future this great province's economy could be in jeopardy. Generations of our people have been forced to leave to find new opportunities. Our government is plagued by enormous debt, which threatens the sustainability of vital services. Our most prosperous industries face unprecedented challenges in a global marketplace.
Islanders must work together to develop the best strategies to address changes in the world. We must be creative in marketing ourselves to potential tourists, businesses and buyers. And we must be innovative to find effective solutions to growth barriers. Most importantly, however, we must make every effort to create new opportunities at home, to offer parents the availability of employment and students the availability of quality education.
We take our politics very seriously in P.E.I.. Every Islander who gets involved in our democratic process truly cares about this place and works hard to make this a better province and a better community. We're fortunate to have two government-ready political parties that debate each other on substance and on ideas.
Premier Ghiz is unquestionably a nice person. And his determination to serve P.E.I. is clear. While we know he is determined to take our province toward something new, many are questioning the vision Ghiz has for our home. The Plan B controversy is surprising to many of us because of the Ghiz government's inability to articulate its position and its rigid unwillingness to freely and openly discuss the project with the Islanders who will be burdened by its costs.
The mere thought of the soon-to-be Green Party leader being charged for attempting to be heard on this project is an appalling disgrace. It is a democratic indecency of the Ghiz government that a political leader would be hauled before the courts because Mr. Ghiz refuses to be hauled before the voters.
I don't agree with the protesters' positioning on this issue and I certainly don't agree with how some in their group treated Bush Dumville - who is an honourable public servant - but I firmly believe in the principles of our democratic system. If the government's position is defensible, then defend it. If there is an economic gain that outweighs the enormous costs, demonstrate it. True leaders are never afraid of the democratic process.
Robert Ghiz is afraid of democracy when it comes to Plan B, public accounts oversight and HST. In contrast, the PC Party has demonstrated its openness of the democratic process in recent weeks with its ability to have serious discussions, which are refreshing in contrast to a closed and cold Ghiz government.
Olive Crane's acceptance of a leadership review vote within the PC Party shows that the democratic system is strong and durable. Islanders have a right to frank, fair and free conversations about the leadership of our parties and our province. With big challenges ahead of us, it demonstrates strength of character and principle that Island Tories are open to adult conversations. That's leadership that Premier Ghiz should emulate.
Dan Aiken of Warren Grove is a policy consultant who earned his BA in political science.