BY DAVID WEALE
As Islanders anticipate the up-coming election, and ponder how they should vote, I have this suggestion: don’t vote for any individual or party that does not have a clear and visionary platform regarding these five crucial issues facing the Island.
The rapid movement of land ownership into the hands of large corporations and other powerful entities which contravenes the spirit of the Lands Protection Act and will very soon, unless checked, take away from the Islanders the power to determine what kind of rural economy and society we are building in this province. The clock is ticking on this one. We solve it, or bye-bye Island autonomy.
The environmental damage to the earth, water and air – and to the health of Islanders - caused by large-scale, industrial agriculture, and the dominating presence of the Irvings within Island agriculture. If Island politicians don’t have the fortitude to take on the Irvings, we might as well just hand over to them the keys to the province right now and get it over with.
An educational system that is in a state of extreme dysfunctionality, requiring creative and innovative leadership. A re-conception of the entire system is required because right now morale among teachers on the Island is at an all-time low. And don’t take my word for it, just ask a teacher and see what she/he says. They are on the front line and they are discouraged, many to the point of despair. The system is broken.
A health system that is costing more than we can afford and delivering less than Islanders reasonably expect. Is it possible that the present health system is too much designed to meet the needs of physicians and health care bureaucrats, and too little designed to meet the needs of citizens? It’s just one of the questions needing to be asked.
The notorious PNP program which has become a disruptive and divisive force within the Island economy and continues to be a hotbed of patronage and political graft. There are many who whisper about the scandal of PNP, but few who will speak out for fear of being labeled a bigot or racist. Islanders have to get over that before it is too late, and strong leadership is required to take the lead in that shift.
It is all very well for the political opposition in the province to complain about the status quo, but we need to see a clearly articulated vision for change if we are to have any real hope for significant improvement.
Leadership is not, after all, the ability simply to spot a problem. It is having the ability and wisdom to rally the population around clearly articulated alternatives.
So, tell us Mr. Aylward, tell us Mr. Bevan-Baker, tell us Mr. Byrne what would you do differently? What innovative measures would you introduce? We need to know that now. Otherwise, what is the point of listening to you? What principles would you espouse that would deliver us from the regime of narrow self-interest that is the hallmark of the governing Liberals.
For the most part, what you are serving up presently is a thin gruel of generalities, platitudes and good intentions, mixed together with criticisms about the way things are currently being managed.
That just doesn’t cut it.
Voting for vague promises of change is what Islanders have been doing for many years, and it’s not enough. There needs to be some meat and veggies in the political stew or our society will continue on in its current malnourished condition.
David Weale is a co-founder of Vision P.E.I.