Questions By Members, 24 November 2016
Source: Legislative Assembly of PEI

Motion 80 and parliamentary sovereignty

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In remarks reported this morning in the media the Premier finally admitted that his motion entitled A Clear Question and a Binding Vote cannot, in fact, be binding. As a constitutional law expert, I find it hard to imagine that in drafting this motion the Premier was unaware of the concept of parliamentary sovereignty and that this motion clearly violates that principle. It was either an oversight or it was a clear effort at deception.

A question to the Premier: Can you finally admit to this House that Motion 80 is non-binding in every legislative sense and is therefore no different from the plebiscite that we just had?

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Premier MacLauchlan: Mr. Speaker, in the language of plebiscites and referenda it’s well-known that plebiscites are non-binding and that referenda are considered to be binding.

It’s in that sense that we speak about it in this motion. To have a clear question, to have a clear response, and to have a question that is posed on the ballot along with the referendum is indeed going to be binding in every sense in terms of the obligation of the people who get elected as a result of that election.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, your first supplementary question.

Dr. Bevan-Baker: I beg to differ. In my research, referendum and plebiscite appear synonymously in legislation.

The other erroneous claim in this title as referenced by the Premier was that the motion is a clear question. There’s no definition in this motion of what that clear question actually means. There are all sorts of other imprecise statements. We still do not know what the second option that the Premier prefers in this second non-bonding plebiscite that we’re going to hold will be.

A question to the Premier: How can such an unclear and imprecise motion lead to a clear question for this second non-binding plebiscite?

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Premier MacLauchlan: Mr. Speaker, that will be the work of a sovereign Legislature, the 27 of us who are here, and I’m sure we’re quite capable of coming up with a clear question.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, your second supplementary question.

Motion 80 removal

Dr. Bevan-Baker: A few days ago I privately invited the Premier to discuss how we can work together to craft a solution to this impasse, to collaborate in finding a new way forward that respects the dignity of all parties. That offer still stands and I am available to talk any time.

Having established that this Motion 80 is misleading in its title and possibly even unconstitutional in its intent, I ask you to withdraw Motion 80 from the floor in order that you and I can begin our work together.

Mr. Premier, will you do that?

Some Hon. Members: (Indistinct).

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Some Hon. Members: (Indistinct).

Premier MacLauchlan: Mr. Speaker, Motion 80 remains on the Table, many members of this House have spoken to it, and it is open for further debate and deliberation, and I expect that that will take place.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


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