Politics is interesting. It has so many facets and you never quite know how each day will be shaped, and some days are a bit of a blur. However, one aspect of the job that I have found to be consistently positive is standing committee meetings. We have 8 standing committees and one special committee on democratic renewal. I have the privilege of sitting on them all, and it is where I, and all MLAs have an opportunity to further our knowledge on a wide variety of issues. Some of the most useful work we do as MLAs gets done in standing committees. Outside the politically charged environment of the Legislative Assembly, there is a certain freedom and collegiality which almost always makes for constructive discussion. In the last week we have had meetings on topics as varied as the Auditor General’s report, renewable energy, help for grandparents, and strategies for mental health.

The general format for such meetings is that witnesses, usually called by members of the committee, appear before us and present on their topic of expertise. In doing so, MLAs deepen our understanding of complex issues, and the committees ultimately report to the Legislature with recommendations on a range of topics. It’s a process that makes a lot of sense to me, and in theory should lead to better decision making and therefore better governance. As MLAs, tasked with presiding over an enormous range of issues, it also helps to overcome the unavoidable limitations of any one person’s knowledge base.

We recently received an excellent presentation by an architect, where he was stressing the importance of bearing in mind the lifetime operating costs of a building in design and materials. His central point was that building smart can create enormous lifetime savings, even though the up-front costs may be higher. We must look at capital PLUS operating expenses when we consider costs and benefits, because what might look like a bargain up front may turn out to be an unnecessary financial drain over its lifetime. I think we must apply the same principles to governing. Smart government is efficient government – taking into account the long-term implications of any policy being implemented. Here’s what I said in the meeting:

“A lot of people think that the Green Party is just about trees and watersheds and piping plovers, but real Green government is efficient, value-driven government ….. for example, health care costs and putting money in prevention, because you know that that’s going to save society money down the road. Or in social costs, bringing in basic income guarantee because you know it’s going to avoid health and justice problems in the future.”

A little garbled admittedly, but I hope the gist of it is clear. We need governments to stop thinking in election-cycle time-frames, and start thinking long-term. We are already passing on a large enough burden to future generations, it would be nice to start taking them into consideration in all our decisions.

-Peter

 

3 Comments

  1. Gerald 18 March 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Mr Baker is setting a good example of what a politician should be.

     
  2. Bill Kays (@RebootBill) 19 March 2016 at 12:42 pm

    REAL GREEN is almost no government, just a little governance. We need the circle, not the pyramid. Yes, in theory, all politics are for the benefit and well being of the people, and politicians do the will of the people. We know this not to be true, as is seen in the courts. Therefore the political system is corrupt and unmanageable in its addiction to power and control. Mr Baker, does sitting on eight standing committees make you feel important? (how can one sit on something and stand on it at the same time? ha ha) That is how they manage you and you aren’t even aware of it. Old Wadey boy knows how to manage you. Masons, like old Wadey boy, are taught these management skills very early on in the big wig academia schools of perverted learning. You are asking the Island’s power elite to give up power and do the right thing. My question to you is this, why hasn’t it already been done? Haven’t we elected our brightest and best in the past? Why did they not do the right thing in the past? Could they not see beyond the 4 year election cycle, or were they all stupid and corrupt? How could we, the people, continue to elect frauds and charlatans to pretend to do the people’s work? There is only one topic that government should be dealing with, but they are not. That topic is the one of government’s fiscal accountability and transparency. Old Wadey boy has you off busy doing the little things, the committees, making you feel important, but knowing all you can do is make recommendations to be voted down by the majority, led by the unethical tyrant, commander of all things, old Wadey boy.

     
  3. Jordan C 21 March 2016 at 5:37 am

    Excellent analegy Peter!

     

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