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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Requirements in the new Municipal Government Act (MGA) are stripping municipalities of the power and flexibility to govern their jurisdictions, says PC MLA Brad Trivers.
Trivers took aim at the MGA during Tuesday’s question period and specifically criticized its requirement for municipalities to have committee bylaws in place this December, 12 months after the act came into effect.
Trivers pointed to a Guardian article about Charlottetown council’s final reading Tuesday of a procedural bylaw now required by the province, which will take control of naming standing committees and their chairs out of the mayors' hands.
“Experienced councillors have been elected for decades. The devil is in the details, and it’s clear councillors don’t agree with the broad overreaching controls of the MGA,” said Trivers, who described some of the MGA requirements as being reminiscent of the George Orwell novel 1984.
“Why are you playing big brother and forcing councils large and small to make questionable changes with tight timelines?”
“You can’t be one person going out and controlling the whole situation ...They’ll get over it and they’ll go on to make Charlottetown a better place.”
Trivers’ usage of the phrase “big brother” had a double meaning, as his questions were directed towards Communities Minister Richard Brown, who is the older brother of incoming Charlottetown mayor Philip Brown.
Brown denied Trivers’ accusation of overreach and said elected municipal councilors are “very capable people who can deal with these issues internally.”
Brown, who served on city council for 14 years, said if Trivers had been elected municipally or went to a municipal council meeting, he would “see how hard councilors work”.
Brown also announced that, based on the recommendation of department staff, he would be extending the timeline for the requirement of the committees bylaw by six months.
When asked by Trivers what was wrong with the old way of appointing committees, Brown said in order to have a great council you need all councillors to work together.
“You can’t be one person going out and controlling the whole situation. I believe what is occurring now in the City of Charlottetown is a minor flip. They’ll get over it and they’ll go on to make Charlottetown a better place,” said Brown.