Questions By Members: 22 November 2016
Source: Legislative Assembly of PEI

Motion 80 and electoral reform

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

Under PEI’s Election Act we are supposed to have fixed dates for elections. However, the piece of electoral reform contained a loophole that enables the Premier to ignore that fixed date and call elections whenever he should please. We saw last year that the Premier is not above using such loopholes when the political situation may be advantageous.

The Premier’s motion on the plebiscite on democratic renewal contains similar sorts of loopholes.

A question to the Premier: Are the many loopholes in Motion No. 80 simply mistakes or is it a way to avoid taking any action on electoral reform?

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Premier MacLauchlan: Mr. Speaker, Motion No. 80 is still under debate, so if there are loopholes I suppose it’s open to hon. members to move amendments or bring them to our attention.

As regards the Election Act, it is standard in those jurisdictions that have a fixed election date that there is always a proviso, which is required by our Constitution, that the Lieutenant Governor retains the ability to call an election. In fact, I can’t see how it could be otherwise in a parliamentary democracy.

The reasons for the election of 2015 were well understood at the time. There were four parties, none of which had a leader in the House.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

Like the plebiscite on electoral reform, government’s Motion No. 80 is itself not binding.

To quote Marleau and Montpetit a motion is, and I quote, “… a declaration of opinion or purpose; it does not have the effect of requiring that any action be taken, nor is it binding.”

Given that this government has not implemented the results of the plebiscite and ignored fixed election dates previously, what assurances can this Premier offer Islanders that they will, in fact, implement Motion No. 80?

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Premier MacLauchlan: Mr. Speaker, first we have to pass Motion No. 80.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

Electoral reform and parliamentary sovereignty

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

Indeed we do.

Since the Premier tabled Motion No. 80 some Islanders have raised concerns about certain aspects of the motion, including the point of parliamentary sovereignty, whether one Assembly can force the actions of a future one.

There’s some question as to whether the Premier’s binding referendum during a general election can, in fact, force the newly elected government, which could be entirely different from the one we see before us today, to enact those results.

Could the Premier please explain how his proposed referendum on electoral reform will circumvent the principle of parliamentary sovereignty and be binding on the next government?

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Premier MacLauchlan: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Third Party, I expect, will be speaking on the motion and I’ll have a further opportunity to speak on it as the mover.

But in saying that the referendum will be binding is that there will be a clear indication of an outcome of the referendum.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


One Comment

  1. rebootbill 26 November 2016 at 9:44 am

    While we inherited this parliamentary system of governance, it was created by the upper crust as a means of controlling the citizenry. It maintained that education might be used to gain advantage over a good willed but less educated person that might actually slip in and become an MP, an MLA, etc., etc. The system itself is rigged to gain, and then maintain, power with those already in power. Changing the method of voting in a government MAY help to keep the powers in balance through the electorate. This is the battle Mr Bevan Baker is facing. It is a surmountable battle though, if the people would get behind him. While I disagree with many of the Green’s proposed policies, we must change our current way. The people need relief.


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