Green Party leader calls for more government integrity

Peter Bevan-Baker says Islanders feel 'shame at how inept and how crooked' P.E.I. appears to the rest of Canada

Teresa Wright twright@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on March 6, 2015
Green Party of P.E.I. Leader Peter Bevan-Baker

Green party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker is calling for conflict of interest rules to be brought in for lawyers and consultants who advise government and for whistleblower legislation to be enacted in P.E.I.

He also believes response times for freedom of information requests must improve.

Bevan-Baker says this three-pronged approach would improve governance in P.E.I. and eliminate “collusion and greed” as well as “insider deals and impropriety” at the government level.

His concerns stem from the province’s failed attempt to become an Internet

gambling regulator for the country — an attempt that ended with some officials close to and inside government investing in a

company that became embroiled in a securities investigation.

The fact this e-gaming initiative was recently chronicled on the front page of a national newspaper has been the cause of embarrassment across the province, Bevan-Baker said.

“Many Islanders may feel today, as I do, shame at how inept and how crooked we appear to the rest of the country,” he said.

“I am as upset as everyone at our tarnished reputation, but rather than further denigrate ourselves with glib criticism, I want to offer constructive proposals to the way government functions and put an end to patronage once and for all.”

That’s why he is calling for stricter rules for individuals and agencies that advise government, such as lawyers, accountants and consultants. He wants the Legal Profession Act to be reformed.

Bevan-Baker also pointed to the weeks, months and even years of backlog at the privacy commissioner’s office.

Freedom of information request response times must be improved with strict time frames established, he stated.

He also believes those who wish to come forward with information should be protected. P.E.I. does not have any legislation to protect whistleblowers, and that must change, Bevan-Baker said.

He believes the e-gaming file is just one of several examples of government getting involved in questionable endeavours that rewarded a few insiders, pointing especially to the controversial Provincial Nominee Program.

“It is time to re-establish integrity in government on Prince Edward Island and to once more govern ourselves with pride and care.”

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa