P.E.I. Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker is expressing extreme disappointment at the defeat of a motion to bring electoral reform to the province, saying governments will do "whatever the hell they want."
Motion 54 was introduced last Tuesday by Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker and co-sponsored by the PCs. MMPR was the electoral model selected among five options put to Islanders in a plebiscite earlier this fall.
'I find that a real betrayal of democracy.' - Peter Bevan-Baker
The topic has been debated for hours since, but it was defeated by the entire Liberal caucus plus three PCs — MLAs Jamie Fox, Steven Myers and Colin LaVie — leaving Bevan-Baker disappointed and defeated.
"I find that a real betrayal of democracy, and I don't think it will be the last you would have heard of the vote we just witnessed in the house."
Some PCs join Liberals in voting down motion
The entire Liberal caucus voted against the motion, with a few PCs members joining them.
Some PC MLAs spoke on the floor saying they will support the motion, because that is what their district voted. Two PC MLAs — Darlene Compton and James Aylward — argued that the plebiscite was doomed from the start, because of too many options on the ballot and lack of education on the topic. Both supported the motion.
Bevan-Baker hopes Islanders won't forget what happened with this plebiscite.
With electoral reform coming up on the federal level he said the result on P.E.I. sends a clear message to voters.
"The big lesson that Canadians should take from our Island experience is governments will do whatever the hell they want," he said.
"You can give them your opinion, you can voice your collective choice, and they can summarily ignore it. And it's a sad day for democracy in my estimation ... You may think you're being included in this conversation, but I'm not so sure you are."
Not the only motion
Premier Wade MacLauchlan would not speak to the issue after the vote, but from the floor said he wants to be careful and take things slow.
MacLauchlan introduced his own motion on electoral reform last week. Motion 80 calls for a binding referendum to be held in conjunction with the next provincial election, currently scheduled for the fall of 2019. He said during debate Tuesday evening that Motion 80 will allow the question to be more clear and get a better answer.
"Motion 80 does not dismiss the plebiscite, nor does it cast it aside," he said.
"It offers a clear path forward with a clear question. Mixed member proportional representation will be on the ballot: that does mean the plebiscite accomplished something."
MacLauchlan said that the plebiscite showed the people have a clear appetite for change, but during debate on Motion 80 in the first session on Tuesday, some members didn't agree.
"Under what fantasy does having 36 per cent voter turnout, obtaining only 52 per cent support for mixed-member proportional, and only on the fourth ballot of a preferential vote, constitute a mandate for change ?" said Liberal backbench MLA Bush Dumville
Dumville also told the House he and other MLAs had been subjected to "social media harassment" at the hands of proponents of proportional representation and the #honourthevote campaign.
He also said the campaigns were part of a "well-funded lobby by special interest groups," and challenged the media to find the source of that funding.
Now that Bevan-Baker's motion has been defeated, the one from the Premier can remain open for debate and eventually a vote, as decided by Speaker Buck Watts last week, but there is no schedule for when or if more debate or a vote may happen.
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | PHOTOS Owl versus raven: Birds face off in downtown Charlottetown
- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | First there was phishing, now we have 'smishing': Spammers are now texting us