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EDITORIAL: Federal delays now the norm


There are several important federal appointments pending or overdue for Prince Edward Island.

Based on recent history, Ottawa will continue to drag its feet, causing undue hardship and inconvenience for this province.
But there is good news this week as the long-awaited announcement on our new lieutenant governor was finally made late Thursday. We congratulate Antoinette Perry of Tignish who is sure to do a commendable job in the position.
But it still took Ottawa more than a year after Lt.-Gov. Frank Lewis’s five-year term expired to finally make that decision. Granted, our current vice-regal representative thoroughly enjoyed his position and indicated that he was willing to serve past August 2016 if it pleased Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Wade MacLauchlan.
Still, the position is a prestigious one and a five-year term limit should be followed more closely to offer as many deserving Islanders as possible a chance to serve their province.
The delay in naming the Queen’s representative left people speculating if the position was being held for someone in particular until the timing was right; or that there was no consensus on names for consideration. Whatever the reason, waiting for more than a year suggests federal foot-dragging.
Now we have another vacant P.E.I. senate seat. Libbe Hubley turned 75 last week, the mandatory date for retirement so her departure came as no surprise. The process to replace her should already be in motion but don’t count on it.
We hope her replacement will be expedited, unlike P.E.I.’s last senate opening. Catherine Callbeck retired in July 2014 and Diane Griffin wasn’t appointed to fill her position until October 2016. Granted, Prime Minister Trudeau made promises to fill senate vacancies with qualified Canadians selected by an independent panel, so it took time to set up that group and then seek and review nominations from interested Islanders. But 26 months?
The senate has important work to do and P.E.I. deserves to have its four seats filled with hard-working Islanders.
A third federal issue affecting this province involves the Supreme Court of P.E.I. The court has been operating below complement for some time and Ottawa has been slow making appointments to fill vacancies for retired justices. The latest opening saw Justice Ben Taylor of Summerside officially retire after being on medical leave for several months.
The court has been in a bit of turmoil for more than a year. It has an acting chief justice in Gordon Campbell, who is serving in that role since the retirement of Jacqueline Matheson. Taylor’s departure was the third retirement from the bench within a year - an extraordinary turnover. With Taylor’s retirement, there are two vacancies on the court, which normally has five sitting judges.
A judicial advisory committee will make recommendations for the court appointments, so the committee and Ottawa must act quickly as there have already been cases of trials delayed because no judges were available.
Justice delayed is justice denied.




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