BY CHRIS MCGARRY
If you’re like me, you most likely get frustrated by the alarming lack of long-term vision public displayed by our elected representatives. If you’re from P.E.I. or one of the other Maritime provinces, you can’t help but notice the ‘the cheque is in the mail’ mentality that is so rampant in this region. Don’t bother looking at the big picture, live for today, explains a lot how our economic and demographic woes have grown over the past five decades.
Getting back to the matter at hand, our lovely little province, Prince Edward Island, is due for a serious makeover, one that will forever change (for the better) the way in which we do politics and business. A true vision for P.E.I means growing a healthy economy without constantly judging healthy economic growth by the size of our GDP (gross domestic product); an agricultural system that favours small, organic farming operations over global corporations which would gladly scoop up every inch last inch of P.E.I.’s limited farmland is given the green light by our politicians; small business development that places an emphasis on Islanders and newcomers alike who truly want to contribute to P.E.I; and finally, a political system that is both ethical and moral.
Whoever becomes the next premier of the Cradle of Confederation must be a true man or woman of the people, one who will simply not be an establishment lackey for the backroom boys (those law firms and powerful business interests in Charlottetown) who control large swaths of Island politics. Right now, the race to decide who becomes the newest leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Prince Edward Island is in full swing. And while all candidates bring strong ideas to the table with regards to bettering our province, the only one who truly espouses these values and is willing to go all the way to bring about a total sea change in Island life is Kevin J. Arsenault.
We’ve got plenty to be proud of in this province: gorgeous beaches; breathtaking landscapes; kind, friendly people from near and far who work hard to make P.E.I the wonderful place it is. Most importantly, we as Islanders have our sovereignty, our gift of jurisdiction, if you will. But if we do not use that gift wisely, it can and will be taken from us by forces in Ottawa beyond our control.
A few years back, senators from the region were pushing for Maritime Union, a concept as old as Canada itself and one that could be thrust upon in the future. It’s a well-known fact that our region has not evolved like the rest of the country, and is still heavily dependant on federal transfers.
If you want to know what it’s like to live in a place that is nice but has no identity or ability to decide its own destiny, just ask a Cape Bretoner. With the right leadership, Islanders can forge their own future, instead of becoming a suburb of Halifax.
But time is running short. Will we step up to the plate and demand change, or simply continue to put with the status quo until it is too late? Remember, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you put up with.
- Christopher McGarry of Iona is a freelance journalist and indie author.