In Tuesday's PC leadership debate, the question on proportional representation (PR) largely resulted in thinly veiled displays of self-interest from the candidates.
One candidate - who is presenting themselves as a champion for marginalized Islanders - led the disappointing charge by suggesting that "we're having the wrong conversation" about PR, then went on to add that a more collegial legislature would fix what ails our politics on P.E.I. while asserting that PR won't "magically" create a different political experience.
Though they're expecting to be taken at their word when they say they can deliver a different political experience without presenting even one concrete idea on how they'd do it.
For over a century, the same two parties have exchanged power and we find ourselves still listening to childish snipes during Question Period, still enduring unbalanced standing committees, and still indulging candidates promising to do things differently; a political rallying cry as old as democracy itself.
In my mind, PR is about creating a political marketplace wherein the consumer has more options, thus resulting in stiffer competition and eventually a superior product; certainly an idea a conservative should support.
It would also be wise for the PC party to remember that they've worked hard over the past decade to hold the government to account for its perceived transgressions while suffering both frustration and low polling numbers, so you'd expect they'd well understand how bloated majorities can sometimes be the antithesis of democracy.
Conversely, Dennis King deserves credit for boldly pledging his support for PR, undoubtedly to the chagrin of party brass.
Opponents of PR cite the need for sturdy majorities and fear of power centralization within urban centres as reasons to forgo PR. However, the notion that FPTP produces stable majority governments is perhaps no longer a given here as we may be headed towards a minority government of our own alongside New Brunswick and B.C.
And, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't centralized power already a major concern for rural Islanders? The coming referendum will reveal whether Islanders have an appetite for PR, but if not, we better hope that stale platitudes are edible.