PEI

Referendum plan 'cowardly,' says Green Party leader

P.E.I. MLAs need to vote down a government plan to hold a referendum on electoral reform as part of the next provincial election, following a plebiscite earlier this fall, says Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker.

P.E.I. government announces plan for referendum to follow plebiscite

P.E.I. Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker tabled his own motion on the plebiscite Tuesday evening, but government members talked it out. (Province of P.E.I.)

P.E.I. MLAs need to vote down a government plan to hold a referendum on electoral reform as part of the next provincial election, following a plebiscite earlier this fall, says Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan tabled a motion for a referendum in the legislature Wednesday evening.

"We're seeing that government is trying to avoid that responsibility. They're trying to kick this down the road, and for me it's a cowardly move and it's a denial of democracy," Bevan-Baker told CBC News.

A low voter turnout

In the plebiscite Islanders voted for a switch to a mixed member proportional representation system, but MacLauchlan expressed concern that the low voter turnout of 36.5 per cent did not necessarily accurately represent the will of Islanders.

"Never before in an election have we counted non-votes," said Bevan-Baker.

A spokesperson for Premier Wade MacLauchlan said the government would reserve its discussion of the referendum to the legislature. (Province of P.E.I.)

"Never before have we given any credence to the people who – again, for whatever reason – do not participate in the democratic process, and it would be a real travesty if we did that in this case."

Bevan-Baker said he hopes the premier will make the vote on his motion a free one, and that the majority of MLAs will vote it down.

Bevan-Baker had tabled his own motion on the plebiscite Tuesday night, asking that the 2019 provincial election be held under a mixed member proportional system, but the Liberals made sure it did not come to a vote.

CBC News asked for an interview with MacLauchlan to discuss the referendum motion, and received the following response from a spokesperson.

"Government will speak to the motion when it's called for debate in the legislature."

With files from Island Morning

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