I am unaware of the origins of the phrase “going through the motions”, but I’m sure Islanders understand its meaning: to do things insincerely or in a cursory manner.

After a couple of sessions in the House, where we literally and metaphorically “go through the motions”, I am increasingly convinced that the origins of the term are political.

In the recent election, Islanders expressed their deep desire for real change, and I share their hope for the dawning of a new attitude in politics; one which is more collaborative, less partisan, and represents a better, more productive type of discourse. Of a House more in line with how it was originally conceived, where Members, who are first and foremost representatives of their constituents, bring forward legislation and motions, and a productive, open debate leads to the development of the best ideas to solve the many problems we face.

Instead politicians in Parliaments everywhere are often just “going through the motions”.

It strikes me that a disproportionate amount of time is spent in our Legislative Assembly talking to motions. I don’t want to denigrate the intent of many of the worthy motions that appear on the floor of the House, but the reality is that motions are non-binding and die at the end of each session. Legislation is entirely different: it is binding and outlives any particular government’s mandate, until or unless, of course it is amended or repealed.

Unlike most Legislatures, PEI has few time restrictions on most procedures in the House. Consequently Members can talk – sometimes literally for hours – on motions which will more likely than not have absolutely no impact on the governance of the Province. I’d personally love to see time limits on many aspect of House business, including talking to motions. More substantive work would get done, and the potential for “grandstanding” on topics would be reduced.

Prince Edward Island, due to its size, and the intimacy of its politics doesn’t have to mimic the sort of political theatre that predominates in so many other jurisdictions. With leadership, we could abandon the brand of politics with which Islanders – and people all over the world – are fed up.

Let’s make our Legislative Assembly a place where we restore the intent of the political process, re-establish Islanders’ faith in the institution and in their elected representatives, and stop simply “going through the motions”.




  1. Bill Kays 4 December 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Great words Mr Baker. Keep up the good work. I appreciate the fact that you wanted to inform Islanders why the people’s business doesn’t done, or only gets done to appease the governing Party and its members. After identifying the problem, I would expect next for you to table legislation addressing the problem. It would call for sweeping reforms in the legislature, with its procedures and proceedings. I am interested though in a point you brought up earlier in the story.
    What percentage of laws get repealed or changed? Is it on par with other jurisdictions, etc. Which types of laws get repealed? Why aren’t more laws being repealed since the opposition opposed all or parts of a law?

  2. Peter 5 December 2015 at 7:27 am

    Thanks for this Bill.
    I don’t know the answer to your question, but will look into that. Lots of legislation gets amended, but as far as actually repealing laws, I don’t know. My guess is very, very few.
    Best wishes,

  3. Wayne 5 December 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Legislation can and has been repealed. 0ne act I would like to see repealed is the Electrical Distribution Act. Perhaps then we could get some competitive pricing. Do you think the Liberals or conservatives would agree to that? Not likely! It might affect their investments. Wonder if they get preferred shares?


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