My favourite David Bowie song is “Changes” – a catchy tune, brilliant lyrics, raunchy sax solo, and hidden meanings galore. I saw Bowie live in 1983, and it remains one of the most amazing concerts I’ve ever attended. Life sometimes unfolds in unexpected and testing ways: my last blog was written before Bowie died, and before the most recent session of the PEI Legislature opened. It is now three weeks since the House closed, and, to quote the song – “time has changed me.”

I am a changed man since I last wrote: changed in lots of little ways, but also shaken to my core by the death of my mother. I’ve written much about what an extraordinary human being she was, and how she inspired so many people, including myself. One of the most valuable teachings she gave me was her willingness to change. She was always evolving, and I described her as being on a constant voyage of discovery.

I remember reading somewhere that the only evidence that you have a mind is the willingness to change it. I’ve always appreciated people who, despite deeply held convictions, are open to their opinions and values being influenced by new ideas and realities. And the corollary of that – people who you couldn’t prise apart from their beliefs with a titanium crowbar – drive me crazy.

We’ve all come across the proud politico who proclaims: “I’m a Liberal – was born a Liberal and will die a Liberal!”  (insert Conservative, etc.) Do you know what I think when I hear that? – What a shame. The Conservative Party of today is very different from the one led by Angus MacLean; the MacLauchlan Liberals, a different animal from the Party of Robert Ghiz. Unless your personal values have marched in lock step with the various evolutions of the Party to which you subscribe, what you are really saying is that you have ceased to think independently or critically, and that whatever is espoused by your team, you will support.

In politics however, sadly some things never seem to change. Last week it was announced that two lifelong Liberals (see above) were appointed to the Health PEI board. It is a stretch, to say the least, to argue that the gentlemen in question have credentials for such a position, and Islanders from tip to tip are both puzzled and piqued at the selections. Patronage; cronyism, nepotism – take your pick; whatever we call it, it poisons the wellspring of Island politics.

As Mr. Bowie astutely says “And these children that you spit on, as they try to change their world ….. Where’s your shame? You’ve left us up to our necks in it.”

But in politics and life, change is not only possible, it is inevitable. Islanders have already expressed their readiness for a new sort of politics, and I look forward to a day when this desire for change permeates all facets of government, including board appointments.

-Peter

 

4 Comments

  1. Walter Wilkins 8 June 2016 at 3:25 pm

    Maureen Kerr’s guest opinion published in The Guardian (June 7th) and Bevan-Baker’s points raised here evokes a powerful question: How can we trust a government initiated consultation process if we can’t trust the people who have been appointed to manage the consultation?

    Interestingly, what makes the question even more poignant is the implication that public consultations can be used strategically, not to find out what the public needs, but rather, to secure private interests. Interests that may be counter to the interests of most Islanders.

    One way to measure the degree to which public consultations have been compromised is to measure the degree to which those who are appointed are free from intentional bias. To this end, Kerr’s call for relevant background data on people appointed to decision making bodies prior to their appointment is not only fair, it’s necessary. If the relevant background data is not forthcoming, isn’t that an indicator that the consultation process is being intentionally compromised?

    Time and again we see the authenticity of public consultation and policy formation undermined by the very people appointed to the process. Yes, they are appointed because of their skills. Unfortunately, their skills are not tied to procedural fairness and authentic consultation. Rather, their skills are actually, or are perceived to be, tied to pre-formulated interests that are designed to deliver results that were already established before the consultation even begins. It all leaves the general population in a state of perceived helplessness and it manufactures apathy. Is that the goal?

    Which leads to an even larger question: Is there hope?

    Well, the lasting gift of Plan B is that a light was flashed on a perfect example of what inauthentic consultation on Prince Edward Island looks like. That shameful process continues to motivate people to call foul, to construct oppositional social media and to develop newsletters and blogs – like this one. Lighting these candles in the dark has begun to shed even more light on the political inbreeding that gives birth to inauthentic consultation. As well, the fact that mainstream media like The Guardian even published Ms. Kerr’s opinion piece provides further evidence that attempts are being made to acknowledge and validate the problems. It appears we may be casting off the shackles of willful blindness is no small task and never easy. What we end up seeing sure ain’t pretty, but for the gift of vision, we should be grateful

    What Islanders should not be so grateful for is the invisibility of Premier MacLauchlan’s promise of transparency. I’m starting to fear that the person we trusted to secure procedural fairness and its necessary feature – transparency – doesn’t actually know what transparency looks like. Or, maybe it’s even worse. Maybe he knows exactly what it looks like, and he just doesn’t care?

    There’s still time in Premier MacLauchlan’s mandate for that intelligent man to find the courage, repair the damage and make things right; in that, maybe there’s hope?

     
  2. david weale 9 June 2016 at 8:53 am

    When anyone uses the words transparency and collaboration as often as the Premier you need to be suspicious. Me thinks the Premier doth protest too much. If Wade really believes in those words he must have a very different understanding of them than most of the rest of us. Why is he coming across as an old style, pork-barrel politician? Because he hasn’t ch ch changed.

     
    • Walter Wilkins 9 June 2016 at 11:58 am

      I wonder, in these vegan times, what constitutes a pork-barrel politician; perhaps this has also ch-ch-changed? And perhaps, not for the better?

      I’ve always seen pork-barreling as belonging to a long list of vices publicly admonished and privately relished; more often unsavory than poisonous. But, I worry that recently, on our beautiful little island, this particular political deceit has taken a much more sinister turn.

      As cliché as it is, it’s one thing to appropriate government spending to “fix” a road for personal and political gain. It’s quite another thing to use government spending to “fix” a consultative process, a process that’s fundamental to democracy and determines the direction of future public policies and projects. What has ch-ch-changed so much that we can be shaken down so easily?

      Then again, if someone in which we’ve invested our trust uses their significant powers of persuasion to convince us that obfuscation looks like transparency, well, could it work? Could obfuscation begin to look like transparency? For Islanders to allow ourselves to be trumped by this sinister form of demagoguery is more than sad. It’s dangerous. Simply put, Islanders are entitled to authentic transparency. Ch-ch-changing to the positive ain’t easy, but it is necessary; I hope our Priemier does something about it – as I believe he can, for the better.

       
  3. Bill Kays 9 June 2016 at 12:13 pm

    I know exactly of what you gentlemen allude to.
    Back in December 2012 I wrote an open letter to all Canadians. It was titled simply ‘Lost Faith In Government’ and I sent it out to all news agencies and politicians across Canada. I received only one reply and that was from Olive Crane – The letter went like this –

    This is an open letter to all Canadians. My name is Bill Kays and I live in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

    Please allow me to start by stating that GOVERNMENTS ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE SILENCING THEIR CRITICS. I hope this letter gets printed or seen by all Canadians although I doubt if it will. I am sending it to our federal and provincial politicians, many mainstream media outlets and to many internet news sites.

    I, like many of my friends and neighbors, have simply lost all faith in both our federal and provincial governments. I feel that they no longer serve us the people. Personally I do not believe “anything” that our government says? They are making decisions with no forethought of the repercussions of their decisions. Most Canadians have no faith or trust in our governments. This is reflected by our low turnout of voters. Most people feel helpless and that they have absolutely no control over the basic fundamentals of life. I should decide, not the government, on what I can or cannot eat or drink or put in my body. They want to regulate everything.

    Our government is a cancer and it is out of control. We are not governed, we are DICTATED to. There is a big difference. The fox is guarding the hen house folks and the devil is laughing at us. How did we ever let it get this bad?

    I laughed quietly to myself as I heard on Compass (local tv) this week that they are allowing us to transport wine inter-provincially. Did they consult with the robber barons who put those protectionism laws into effect to protect their liquor sales way back in the 20’s or 30’s. This was crony politics at work. It was done in the open but we let it happen. And guess what folks, we are still letting those who have tell those who do not have what to do and HOW TO DO IT.

    The tipping point for me was Wes Sheridan saying that the poor are going to pay less tax under the HST. Or asking that poor lady to move to a TAX FREE ZONE. Is he totally out of touch with reality? Where is he getting his facts? Is he actually doing the research himself and crunching the numbers himself or are his numbers being given to him as talking points by the federal government?

    What else are they going to try to sell us as “FOR THE GREATER GOOD”? It’s all bull crap. The government says they care but “THEY LIE.” They only make decisions to help themselves, and to help corporate interests get bigger and to have more control over their monopolies. What is the difference between a LIE or a SPIN? There is no difference. Truth is truth and lies are lies. There is no gray area. Somehow we have let “spin” become acceptable when really all it is a lie.

    The Bible states “you will know them by their fruits”. So what are the fruits of our Federal and Provincial governments? These are their fruits. Rapidly increasing food costs. Rapidly increasing taxes. Rapidly increasing unemployment. Rapidly increasing welfare rolls. Shrinking fisheries. Shrinking agriculture. Shrinking small business. Shrinking middle class. Shrinking of the value of our savings. Shrinking our standard of living. No real infrastructure plans for the future. Who do they think they are kidding. How long are we going to allow this to continue? To all you folks who think that electing a different person or party will effect real change, I put it to you – they have been telling us that forever. When are you all going to wake up and see the evil that is our party politics governmental system?

    So where are all our independent thinkers or truthful, honest leaders? Perhaps they can save us. But you see, they can think, so they obviously see the truth, that it is useless to join the party politics bandwagon because all the parties are corrupt. You cannot effect change from within the political parties. Do not get caught up in left or right, liberal or conservative, etc. because that is just the old divide and conquer.

    Little by little our fundamental rights and freedoms have been slowly being eroded away. Because it is happening very slowly no one seems to notice. It is happening
    through legislation and changing social attitudes towards our definitions of immorality.

    I have heard that Harper is being blackmailed over being a closet homosexual. I also heard that Ghiz was bought and paid for since before birth. I have heard that the reason the Ghiz government flip flopped on the HST was because the federal government blackmailed the provincial government over the PNP Program. Don’t you think it strange that less than a week after the gentleman from York who owed the taxes (due to his receiving PNP moneys) appeared on Compass that they decided to go along with the feds. This was the tip of the first page on the scandal of the failed PNP Program. Had the Ghiz government not agreed to the HST then the Feds would have done an audit of the entire program. While I do not know if these things are true I do know that people all over the country have lost faith in their governments for whatever reasons. Diversity is the answer to everything big. The more choices you have the better you will be served. All corporations should have a maximum size limit whether it’s public, private, non-profit or government corporations, AND HERE IS WHY.

    What happens when BIGGER GETS BIGGER? As BIGGER GETS BIGGER, SMALLER GETS SMALLER.
    Therefore the old saying that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer is more true now than ever before because of this fact alone. IS EVERYBODY ASLEEP?

    Nothing should be TOO BIG TO FAIL. It is my opinion that once a corporation, government, church, or whatever reaches a certain size, IT HAS ALREADY FAILED. It may be great at making profits (corporate), great at creating laws (governing), great at being “ALL INCLUSIVE” (compromising churches). Large corporations treat the general public as pawns or with disdain. Look at your Media companies. They should all be split up into smaller companies. Did you know that less than 30 companies control most of the internet (really less than a dozen) and our tv and communications systems. They are so big now that they can demand to get paid a month in advance for their services. Getting a job would be wonderful thing for most people and if I got paid a months wages in advance I would feel like I cheated someone. Only after a service is provided should we be required to pay. It’s stupid. If our parents or grandparents heard of this practice they would have been up in arms. We cannot even do that as we have no arms. Even that has been legislated to a farcical stage.

    Get rid of the current tax systems and bring in one flat sales or consumption tax. That way all persons, corporations, etc. would be taxed evenly. If we did that we could pay of our national debt quite quickly and have lots of money to fix our infrastructure and take care of our poor in spirit, our disheartened, our loved ones. We need to be given a chance to regain our dignity and self worth. Why should government be involved in the affairs of private business, another name for corporate welfare? The answer is that “THEY SHOULDN’T BE INVOLVED AT ALL”. Yes, at some small level, government stimulus or incentives may be necessary for small local governments but usually they should stay out of the private sector. Why should any corporation in Canada not have to pay tax? It is because of how the income tax laws have been written.

    There are so many tax laws that not even a tax attorney or accountant can know it all? On top of that the laws are meant be “vague” or “open to interpretation” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Well basically it means that all of us are breaking laws or committing tax fraud to a lesser or greater degree than our peers. That’s right, we could all be prosecuted if the government decides to because there are so many laws and tax laws that the average person breaks 7 laws per day. They keep putting laws, regulations, etc. on the books but they never repeal any of these laws or remove them from the law books. WHY?

    Do our governments really think we are so stupid that we will continue to take this abuse? I suppose that if all we ever do is write letters to the editor, then it will never change, at least not for the better.

    There is a joke going on around the world that calls Canadians complacent idiots
    because we never get emotional (angry) about the way our governments treat us. I know some of you will say “we live in the greatest, most free country in the world”, BUT WE DO NOT. It is an elaborate illusion. It is another lie or “fake bill of goods” that we have bought into. CANADIANS NEED TO TAKE ACTION. Islanders even more so. And I am talking about you who are reading this. It begins by being informed.
    Once informed we can then begin taking back the local civic and provincial elections as independents. Let’s face it. Our governments would rather hurt its citizens than hurt a corporation. That is what they have done and are continuing to do. It is in the news everyday.

    Let me tell you an old story … one of temptation and acceptance into bondage. You know that old trick the devil wants to play on all of us. That is what happened to us the day we signed onto the Federal Governments equalization payment scheme. It was just another instrument for the Federal Government to wield it’s control over us and they do. This is how politics works today but that is not how it was set up to operate. Today politics is all about power and control and it has to stop.
    CRONY CAPITALISM HAS TO STOP. Let’s try to take back our country or at least our province.

     

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