Change is needed: Green leader

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE STEWART THE GUARDIAN

The makeup of the P.E.I. leg­is­la­ture needs to do a bet­ter job of re­flect­ing the way Is­lan­ders vote.

That was the mes­sage from Green Party Leader Peter Be­van-Baker on Thurs­day af­ter Premier Wade MacLauch­lan tabled the White Pa­per on Demo­cratic Re­newal in the P.E.I. leg­is­la­ture.

A white pa­per refers to a doc­u­ment that is de­signed to ini­ti­ate public con­sul­ta­tion on an is­sue.

The three op­tions Is­lan­ders will be given in­clude stay­ing with the cur­rent first-past-the­p­ost sys­tem, pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion or pref­er­en­tial bal­lot.

“The only way to achieve that is to have some form of pro­por­tion­al­ity so mi­nor­ity groups who would vote for 10 to 15 or maybe even 20 per cent for a par­tic­u­lar party are as­sured some rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the house,’’ Be­vanBaker said.

Pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion char­ac­ter­izes a sys­tem in which a party’s seat count re­flects the per­cent­age of over­all vote it fin­ished with.

The Kellys Cross-Cum­ber­land MLA made history this spring by be­com­ing the first Green Party mem­ber elected to the P.E.I. leg­is­la­ture.

The Guardian asked Be­van-Baker if he is proof that the cur­rent sys­tem can, in fact, elect a third or fourth party mem­ber. It should also be noted that for­mer NDP leader Herb Dick­ieson was elected to the leg­is­la­ture in 1996.

“Yes, but some called this a mir­a­cle,’’ Be­van-Baker said, re­fer­ring to his own win this year. “It cer­tainly wasn’t rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the way things have gone in the past. Ac­tu­ally, I have to tell you, I ran a cam­paign I was not ter­ri­bly happy with.’’

Be­van-Baker ex­plains that the cur­rent sys­tem puts pres­sure on third and fourth par­ties to fo­cus too much energy one or two dis­tricts at the ex­pense of other can­di­dates. Be­van-Baker says a pref­er­en­tial bal­lot, which ranks can­di­dates from most to least pre­ferred, would do noth­ing to im­prove the chances of third and fourth par­ties to win seats.

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