More consultation over nudity than amalgamation, P.E.I. Opposition charges
PCs compare door-to-door campaign around nude entertainment with Three Rivers proposal
The Official Opposition says a recent door-to-door campaign by the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission to canvass Bloomfield residents about a proposed night of nude dancing shows the province has misplaced priorities when it comes to public consultation.
Liquor commission staff visited up to 170 households in the Bloomfield area, according to Finance Minister Heath MacDonald, after a local establishment submitted an application to hold a night of nude entertainment in late June.
According to the liquor commission's policy on nude entertainment, which was just revised May 15, the commission itself is responsible for conducting "an independent survey of residents" where there is no local municipal council to say whether the community is for or against such adult entertainment.
Issue of 'democratic rights,' say PCs
PC MLA Brad Trivers on Friday compared that door-to-door campaign to solicit opinions among residents of an unincorporated area on exotic dancing, with ongoing efforts among unincorporated residents in the Three Rivers area fighting against amalgamation.
Those residents conducted their own plebiscite where they voted overwhelmingly against amalgamation, "yet this government refuses to recognize the results of the plebiscite," Trivers said.
"Why are people's democratic rights important for nude entertainment, but not important for amalgamation and annexation?" Trivers asked.
"Everybody is being listened to when amalgamation occurs," responded Richard Brown, minister of communities, land and environment.
"There have been meetings in the Three Rivers areas and everybody got together for these meetings." Brown also said the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission, now reviewing the Three Rivers amalgamation proposal, is "working extremely hard right now in order to see what the residents of the Three Rivers areas really want to do."
Private bill voted down
But Trivers pointed to his own private member's bill, Bill 111, which would require IRAC hold its own plebiscite among all residents of a proposed new municipality if the minister deems there is "significant public interest" in the matter. The bill was voted down by the Liberal majority in the House.
"The liquor commission director stated that a community poll would have to be completed for each subsequent application for nude entertainment. These are ongoing polls," Trivers continued.
"Can you explain why community polls in unincorporated areas are conducted by this government for nude entertainment, but not for amalgamation?"
After question period, MacDonald told reporters he would ask the liquor commission to develop a new process to assess applications for special events, including nude entertainment.
"I think there's better ways to do it to be quite honest," he said. "I think this is labour-intensive.… This topic, obviously, doesn't come up regularly."
'Social responsibility' to inform
MacDonald said there is a "social responsibility" to notify residents of an event of this nature, but said using social media would be a more cost-effective way to do that. He also said more of that responsibility could be placed on the organization applying for the permit.
As for the particular night of nude entertainment that sent liquor control staff knocking on 170 doors in the Bloomfield area?
MacDonald told the House the event wasn't going ahead.
"After a period of time, I believe the respondent that wanted to do this decided against it."