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OPINION: Legislature ridicules itself

P.E.I. Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker.

(Guardian File Photo)
P.E.I. Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker. (Guardian File Photo) - The Guardian

Improving transparency and access to information were issues that amendments addressed

BY WALTER WILKINS

GUEST OPINION

I’d like to offer a counterpoint to Douglas Coles, P. Eng., P.E., F.E.C’s condemnation of Peter Bevan-Baker’s use of the word ‘farcical’ published in the Jan. 10 edition of The Guardian.

In all the brouhaha about Bevan-Baker’s ejection, I now feel very fortunate about one thing: Prior to and during the event I was very sick with the flu.

As it turns out, being horizontal enabled me to watch the televised legislature leading up to, and including, the celebrated event. Along with other Islanders, I was able to actually witness the farcical behavior in our Legislative Assembly prior to Bevan-Baker giving it a name.

Then, for Bevan-Baker to be ejected for saying the truth? It was an eye opener.

To gather the necessary facts, I assume Mr. Coles was also present in the legislature or watched the televised legislature or at least read the Hansard prior to penning his opinion. However, if others have not had a chance, I’d suggest reading the Dec. 16 Hansard (starting on page 1203) where Liberal Members of the Legislative Assembly asked to see the amendments under discussion when, in fact, they had already been given those amendments.

And then, with a mocking and a disturbing lack of embarrassment, they voted on the amendments anyway. Voted on amendments that they never read. And, they did this over, and over again. If Islanders need an example of “farcical” do we need to look further than this?

Yes Mr. Coles the media’s job is to, “poke and probe and question and propose” - in this, I agree with you. But, both journalistic integrity and even amateur opinions, such as yours and this one, require support from evidence and an absence of self-interest.

And with respect to self-interest, I have no evidence that Coles Associates has received a penny of taxpayer’s money. But the question is: Why don’t I have easy access to such evidence? That’s simple. It’s because, due to the farcical mechanisms in place that impede transparency, taxpayers aren’t in a position to expediently gather evidence about the degree to which any corporate interest has benefited from lobbying for and/or receiving government contracts.

It was this very issue of improving transparency and access to information that Bevan-Baker’s amendments addressed, and against which he beat his head. To this end Mr. Coles, I do not agree with you that Bevan-Baker “ridiculed the efforts of our governing legislature.” It was quite the contrary; he exposed our governing legislature for ridiculing itself.

And what about the very few Islanders that benefit from a legislature that uses farce to willfully impede transparency? Well, those very few Islanders know that as long as farce isn’t exposed, it serves them well. But I suspect the vast majority of Islanders wanting more transparency - and truth - are grateful for the stand Bevan-Baker assumed.

- Walter Wilkins, Stratford, is a retired educator and adventure biker

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