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EDITORIAL: Flawed process


Few Islanders can question the selection of Antoinette Perry of Tignish as Prince Edward Island’s 42nd lieutenant governor.  

She is firmly rooted in her country, her province, her community, her heritage and her church. The former music teacher and public educator will certainly bring a new perspective and excitement to Government House. And it was only right that that our next vice-regal representative be a woman and someone from West Prince.
This is no reflection on Ms. Perry, but the selection process was flawed. A better question, what is the process? No one knows for sure. Names are submitted to our premier through MLAs, groups and private citizens. Others are submitted directly to the prime minister. MPs are involved since it's a federal appointment. The PM makes the final selection but the governor general makes the official phone call.
It’s widely believed that Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey lobbied hard for Ms. Perry. The junior MP from P.E.I. apparently holds some sway in the halls of power and with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The process is open to patronage and is so ambiguous that it took more than a year to find a replacement for the folksy J. Frank Lewis.
There is little doubt that being a Liberal and a prominent party official played a role in Ms. Perry’s selection. She was president of the Tignish-Palmer Road Liberal Association and her mother, Anne Marie Perry, was a dominant force in the Liberal party for many years.
Mr. Trudeau supports transparency with these kinds of public appointments. To fill a recent flood of vacancies in the Senate, independent panels were appointed who solicited and reviewed nominations. It was a positive development.
For such a prestigious post, transparency is essential. If the province can use Engage P.E.I. to fill volunteer positions for more than 70 agencies, boards and commissions, then surely Ottawa and the province can find a transparent format to select a qualified person as P.E.I.’s lieutenant governor. Instead it's a murky process, kept within the proverbial smoke-filled backrooms of political power.
The appointment of Mr. Lewis six years ago was a good start. He was well known the community but not a political player. Ms. Perry, the first Acadian woman to hold the post, is another excellent choice. Her years as a teacher transformed her into a connector and it's a guarantee that she will spend the next five years connecting with thousands of Islanders at Fanningbank. Her parents were both longtime community volunteers, especially with the Legion, instilling in their daughter a healthy respect for the monarchy and government.
Since her retirement, Ms. Perry was looking for something with ‘the right punch.’ It looks like a perfect fit for both province and the lieutenant governor-designate.
Ms. Perry lives by the tenets of the Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”

It’s good advice for us all.


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