Change is needed: Green leader
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.