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EDITORIAL: Politics outfoxed

Red fox on P.E.I.
Red fox on P.E.I. -File photo

Much like the adage about P.E.I.’s weather, if you think political gamesmanship in the legislative assembly can’t get any stranger, just wait 10 minutes and something else will happen.

Tuesday, independent MLA Bush Dumville called a bill to the floor that spurred more debate than it should have.

The issue wasn’t partisan paving in Liberal-held ridings or even ridding the Island of plastic grocery bags.

The bill pertained to formally adopting the red fox as the province’s animal emblem. 

Instead of what was anticipated to be a short debate about filling the long-standing vacancy for the official animal role, Liberal MLA Alan McIsaac instead seized this opportunity to propose an amendment to the bill.

In the legislature, McIsaac pitched the Holstein cow for consideration as the provincial emblem and sang the praises of the bovine at length in the house. He even called for public consultation to gauge everyone’s thoughts about what animal best represents P.E.I.

Related: P.E.I. official animal: goodbye fox, hello Holstein cow

In the end, Dumville adjourned the debate and MLAs never voted on it.

If you’re reading this, thinking it all sounds like a big waste of government time, you’d be right.

What’s even more galling about the grandstanding on this particular issue is how the red fox initially came to be considered as the provincial animal.

The process really began as a Grade 5-6 class project at Montague Consolidated School. The students wrote an opinion article about why the red fox should be considered as the P.E.I. emblem and received program materials after applying for an Arts Smarts grant.

They then collaborated with students in grades 5-7 on a presentation they made in October of last year to the province’s standing committee on education and economic development.

Related: Montague students ask committee to make red fox the provincial animal

After the class’s presentation, most of the politicians on the committee admitted they didn’t realize P.E.I. doesn’t have a provincial animal.

Fast forward to this week, and all of this should’ve made the bill a no-brainer in the house — that is, until you factor in Dumville’s newly independent status and his feather-ruffling departure from the Liberals earlier this year.

Progressive Conservative MLA Matthew MacKay accused government of playing vindictive politics because of Dumville’s decision to leave the Liberal caucus, saying there’s a time and place to “take a run at” Dumville, but this wasn’t it.

We agree. The Montague students put in a lot of work on this class project – more than anyone, even members of the standing committee, thought to do – and the students deserve to have their hard work recognized by the house.

Instead, some of our government members are spending their time by wasting everyone else’s with petty political squabbles.

Our MLAs aren't instilling very much faith in these students when it comes to the political process here in P.E.I.

We’d say they’re acting like grade-schoolers, but that would be giving them too much credit.

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