Top News

P.E.I. Green MLAs get more office space, time in the legislature with two members in the house

Green MLAs Hannah Bell and Peter Bevan-Baker speak in the P.E.I. legislature in April 2018.
Green MLAs Hannah Bell and Peter Bevan-Baker speak in the P.E.I. legislature in April 2018. - Maureen Coulter

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - P.E.I.’s Green MLAs have a little more space to work in after getting a bigger office this sitting of the legislature.

Green leader Peter Bevan-Baker and Charlottetown-Parkdale MLA Hannah Bell share a small two-room space in the Coles Building, but in recent weeks added an office on the fourth floor of the nearby J. Angus MacLean building.

Bevan-Baker said he and Bell still use the office they have in the basement of the Coles Building, but they moved all their support staff to the new space.

Although the new office space is close to the legislature, there are a few issues, like it not being accessible.

“It is a bit of a problem, but you know what it is way better than it was before,” he said.

Related: P.E.I. Green MLAs say they don't have enough space to effectively do their jobs

Bevan-Baker said all of the parties recently got an increase to their caucus office budgets after a change that means they use a formula to determine the amount of funding.

That’s instead of the different house leaders working out an agreement, which is what Bevan-Baker said they used to do.

The Green caucus’s operational budget is $15,000 plus salaries for two support staff and someone to work with the office sessionally.

Bevan-Baker said the formula ensures all of the party caucuses going forward will know what their funding will be.

“I can’t say it was an easy process, but it’s done and we will benefit from that because we’re double the caucus that we were.”
-Peter Bevan-Baker

“I can’t say it was an easy process, but it’s done and we will benefit from that because we’re double the caucus that we were.”

With the addition of Bell to the caucus last fall the Greens are also getting more time in the house.

Bevan-Baker used to get one question a day when he was on his own, but he said the Green MLAs now get six a week.

Bevan-Baker said the extra time means the two Green MLAs can dig into topics a little deeper with back-to-back questions, if necessary.

“That’s been interesting,” he said.   

The Greens also have twice as much time to debate motions and bills going from 20 minutes a week to 40 minutes.

For Independent MLA Bush Dumville, he alternates between two questions in one week and one question the next.

He also gets three member statements a month and has to negotiate with the two opposition parties for time to debate motions.

Dumville also doesn’t have any office space provided to him, but said he asked not to have any so taxpayers wouldn’t pay for something he probably wouldn’t use anyway.

He set up an office in his home and said any time he isn’t in the district will be spent in the legislature.

“There’s no real point in me coming down here (the Coles Building) and sitting in an office by myself.”

Dumville said he was offered an office budget of $15,000, but doesn’t foresee spending any of it, other than to pay for his phone and some business cards.

“I’m pretty cheap,” he said.

Twitter.com/ryanrross

Recent Stories