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OPINION: Governing by consensus

Bush Dumville recently tendered his resignation from the Liberal caucus and will sit as an independent MLA in the P.E.I. legislature.

(Guardian photo)
Bush Dumville tendered his resignation from the Liberal caucus earlier this year and will sit as an independent MLA in the P.E.I. legislature. (Guardian photo) - SaltWire Network

Electing Independent MLA’s will ensure they represent viewpoints and concerns of constituents

BY BUSH DUMVILLE

GUEST OPINION

Existing elected members of the legislature realize that a breakdown in the governance of the province can and has actually already occurred whether they will admit it or not. The political history of P.E.I. over the last 20-30 years has seen increasing levels of consolidation of power and control into the backrooms of the leading political parties. I do not see this changing in the event of a Green Party minority or majority government.

RELATED: Bush Dumville breaks his silence on decision to leave the Liberal caucus

A Mixed Member Proportional electoral system advocated by the Green Party of P.E.I. gives even more power and control to the back room of the political parties with some of the MLA’s appointed by the Party. This power and control limits true engagement between the people and its political leaders.

This feeling can also be magnified with the people being weakly represented in the legislature because it sits for only three months of the year. For the other nine months, the political back room of the governing party has free reign to make secretive decisions impacting everyone without being properly held to account.

There are three conditions that must be present in order to change our province’s political future. The challenge of not being able to govern successfully because of the fractioning of the electorate with multiple parties represented in a minority assembly can lead to instability with fringe populist movements radicalizing our political system and sacrificing common Canadian values of the majority.

This has already occurred in New Brunswick, and has a real possibility of becoming a reality in P.E.I. during the next election or in the following election. This fractioning of the political system provides the first condition to change our province’s political future.

The second condition is for the electorate to realize that the party system is heading towards a governing crisis, and that a new approach to governing is not unrealistic, and is in their best interest. It was not that long ago that we removed religious affiliations from politics, education and health care. So, surely, we can remove political parties from our political system in this province.

We all find methods to establish our identity. The alignment to a particular party is powerful, but it is the identity of your parents and your grandparents. It does not necessarily have to be your identity today – where politics is a blood sport culminating in an election every four years.

everyday needs should never be considered a sport. The organizers of this sport pick winners and losers for government favors and only the top 20 percent of the people benefit. Unfortunately, the majority of the electorate always lose because a multi-party system for just 155,000 people is an extremely expensive form of governance. The present system in P.E.I has election campaigns costing $1 million, paid for by donors, so abuses are just waiting to happen.

The third condition requires 27 serious, respected community leaders to come to the aid of their province in this critical time in its political history. These community leaders may acquire the confidence that they do not need party backing to have political success.

I believe that a consensus form of government will alleviate most of our concerns. Consensus government is like a municipal style of government that we are already familiar with. There is no political back room to control policies and people. Electing Independent MLA’s with no party affiliation will help ensure that they represent the viewpoints and concerns of their constituents and work together to find the common ground to govern the province and provide engagement with Islanders. It will take more time to negotiate the policies of the province with the other members of the House and will mean that the House will need to sit more frequently.

However, the process will be more open and transparent than the present system of government. The people’s business should be exercised on the legislative floor. These are your legislative rights. Please do not give them away. Independent candidates forming a consensus government will give everyone a voice in the governing of our province. Please join me in changing our province’s future for the betterment of all Islanders.

- Bush Dumville represents the electoral district of West Royalty-Springvale as an independent member of the legislature

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