Not too late to hon­our the vote

Journal Pioneer - - EDITORIAL -

P.E.I. turned some heads for ex­tend­ing the vot­ing age to 16- and 17-year-olds in the plebiscite on elec­toral re­form last year.

Be­fore the vote, there had been in­for­ma­tion in the schools, but sched­ules in high school years are full and not much class time could be given to dis­sect and re­ally dis­cuss the var­i­ous op­tions. How­ever, turnout from this group was about the same as other groups, and younger vot­ers strongly chose pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion (PR) sys­tems. My 16-year-old son and his vot­ing-age sib­lings voted in the plebiscite last year, a right they du­ti­fully ex­e­cuted.

These young vot­ers, just like many Is­lan­ders, re­al­ized what progress could be made, with P.E.I. lead­ing the way.

The next day I saw their ex­pres­sions when the premier smoth­ered the whole process by toss­ing out con­di­tions that should have been made clear be­fore the bal­lot was ap­proved.

I saw their ex­pres­sions upon see­ing video clips of pre­sum­ably ed­u­cated Lib­eral MLAs mak­ing speeches full of in­ac­cu­ra­cies and fear-mon­ger­ing about PR (see the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly Hansard or Video Archives for Nov. 18, 2016), when dis­cussing the premier’s du­plic­i­tous Mo­tion 80.

Young vot­ers un­der­stood that the crowded bal­lot, the short time­frame, and luke­warm gov­ern­ment en­gage­ment had an ef­fect on turnout.

They also knew that when you sat in small groups with peo­ple of any age, from 10 to 100, and an­swered all their ques­tions on all op­tions, Is­lan­ders sat back and re­al­ized PR wasn’t to be feared; it was the fu­ture of a truly mighty lit­tle is­land.

For a per­son who prides him­self on the time spent work­ing in post-sec­ondary in­sti­tu­tions for the fu­ture of our youth, who made prom­ises of gov­ern­ment work­ing to­ward real demo­cratic re­form, Premier MacLauch­lan is ready to stall progress and youth en­gage­ment for a decade. But there still is time.

Mr. Premier: In­sti­tute Mixed Mem­ber Pro­por­tional for the next two gen­eral elec­tions, then hold a ref­er­en­dum to eval­u­ate it. Hon­our the vot­ers, es­pe­cially those vot­ers who are our Is­land’s fu­ture.

Chris Orten­burger, Bon­shaw, P.E.I.

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