Opposition Leader James Aylward pressed Premier Wade MacLauchlan Friday to commit to keeping to the province’s fixed election date, but no such commitment was made.
During question period Friday, Aylward asked the premier for details about the election as part of a series of questions on the referendum on electoral reform.
MacLauchlan promised a referendum would happen in conjunction with the next election as his response to the electoral reform plebiscite last year that saw Islanders vote in favour of proportional representation.
But when Aylward tried to get a commitment on the timing of the election and referendum, the premier remained vague.
The province’s Elections Act states the next election would be held in October 2019 unless a federal election is happening at the same time, in which case it would be pushed back to April 2020.
But MacLauchlan noted the act also allows the lieutenant governor to dissolve the legislature at any time.
“If circumstances arise or if the conditions require, in sensible judgment, that the date occur as it’s supposed to then it will,” MacLauchlan said.
“But we know that the legislation provides that the lieutenant government can indeed prorogue the house and an election can be called and I don’t see why I would stand here today when it’s the law of the province and say, ‘I’m going to override what is in the legislation.’”
Aylward said he was disappointed with this response.
“I think a lot of Islanders want to know when the next election is going to be in P.E.I.,” Aylward said.
“We have a set election date, a fixed date, which is supposed to be the first Monday in October 2019, we’ve already seen this government not abide by the fixed election date, so I’m just trying to get the premier on record as to if he’s going to stick to the fixed election date or if he’s going to waver from it.”
This information is needed to ensure enough time is given for proper consultation and preparation for the vote on electoral reform, he added.
He also questioned MacLauchlan on whether 16 and 17-year-olds would be allowed to vote, as they were in the plebiscite last year, and whether public consultations would be held on the wording of the question to be put Islanders in the referendum.
Again, the premier remained vague.
“The particular question that’s being asked, along with many others, will indeed be matters that will be for this assembly to determine when we take up the question of legislation – which will be required since we don’t currently have referendum legislation in the province,” MacLauchlan said.
“I’m sure that’s the better time to take that up, not to be asking me to commit to this or that here today.