P.E.I. leg­is­la­ture re­opens to­day

Cam­paign­ing for by­elec­tion con­tin­ues in Char­lot­te­town district

Journal Pioneer - - ISLAND NEWS - BY TERESA WRIGHT

It’s a busy time in pro­vin­cial pol­i­tics in P.E.I.

The fall session of the leg­is­la­ture is set to be­gin Tues­day with a new throne speech, soon to be fol­lowed by what Premier Wade MacLauch­lan is call­ing a “big” cap­i­tal bud­get and 20 pieces of leg­is­la­tion.

Mean­while, all four po­lit­i­cal par­ties are also duk­ing it out on the doorsteps of District 11 Char­lot­te­town-Park­dale in the up­com­ing by­elec­tion of Nov. 27. MacLauch­lan says he has been ac­tively in­volved in the cam­paign, spend­ing time in se­niors’ homes and vis­it­ing busi­nesses in the rid­ing. But his fo­cus will be on the leg­is­la­ture when the house re­sumes for the fall sit­ting this week.

“We’re pretty well com­mit­ted full-time while we’re in the house, and we’re very con­fi­dent in the case of the Lib­eral can­di­date, Bob Do­iron, that he’s got a strong team around him at the lo­cal level,” MacLauch­lan said.

But the other party lead­ers in the leg­is­la­ture say they will def­i­nitely re­main in­volved in the by­elec­tion, even as the house re­con­venes for the fall session.

“I’ll be hon­est, I’m go­ing to still try to find as much time as I can to be out on doorsteps with (PC can­di­date Melissa Hil­ton),” said Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader James Ayl­ward.

De­spite this, he does not be­lieve the by­elec­tion will be a dis­trac­tion from the leg­is­la­ture, but he does say it is a key fo­cus for him as the new party leader.

“With­out a doubt, it’s one of my main goals right now.” Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker ad­mits he has been “a lit­tle dis­tracted” by the by­elec­tion cam­paign, spend­ing time can­vass­ing with Green can­di­date Han­nah Bell dur­ing time he nor­mally would have ded­i­cated solely to house prep. But he says he is con­fi­dent he is ready for the leg­is­la­ture, with a pri­vate mem­ber’s bill ready to table propos­ing to en­act whistle­blower pro­tec­tion leg­is­la­tion for the pri­vate sec­tor. “I’m putting in my work now be­cause once the leg­is­la­ture sits, my op­por­tu­nity to get out in the district will be very limited,” Bevan-Baker said.

“It’s been a lit­tle bit of a tsunami of big stuff com­ing across my desk si­mul­ta­ne­ously.”

This sit­ting will mark the first with Ayl­ward as Op­po­si­tion leader, and he says he hopes to use his time in the house to dif­fer­en­ti­ate him­self from the premier.

“I’m go­ing to show that I’m dif­fer­ent, that I’m not a mi­cro­man­ager... and I’m go­ing to show Is­lan­ders again that I have true life ex­pe­ri­ence, I have been where many Is­lan­ders are,” Ayl­ward said, not­ing that he has worked min­i­mum wage jobs and trav­elled to Western Canada for work to sup­port his fam­ily.

The Op­po­si­tion Tories plan to table up to seven pri­vate mem­bers bills, in­clud­ing one that pro­poses to amend the Worker’s Com­pen­sa­tion Act to in­clude ben­e­fits for first re­spon­ders suf­fer­ing from post­trau­matic-stress-disor­der. Bevan-Baker mean­while says he will be look­ing for­ward to the gov­ern­ment’s Wa­ter Act and the prov­ince’s plans for car­bon pric­ing dur­ing this leg­isla­tive session.

As for what work the gov­ern­ment will bring to the house, MacLauch­lan says there will be 20 bills, in­clud­ing the lon­gawaited Wa­ter Act as well as the re­turn of whistle­blower pro­tec­tion leg­is­la­tion and lobby reg­istry act that died on the or­der pa­per when the house was pro­rogued.

“We see this session, start­ing with the speech from the throne, as a pivot point, or a point where we can as­sess how far we are in sub­stan­tially achiev­ing our man­date at just past the 30-month mark and then to project what can be done in this fur­ther pe­riod to build on the eco­nomic pros­per­ity that we’ve seen,” he said.

“(The sit­ting) will have quite a bit of leg­is­la­tion and the cap­i­tal bud­get will be the high point, the most sub­stan­tial piece of work that we do as a leg­is­la­ture.” MacLauch­lan says he is look­ing for­ward to the to-and-fro of the house, but ex­pects a lot of sub­stan­tial work to also be done over the com­ing weeks.

The fall sit­ting of the leg­is­la­ture kicks off this afternoon, Nov. 14, at 2 p.m. with the speech from the throne.

FILE PHOTO

Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader James Ayl­ward.

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