Opposition won’t support Mitchell as referendum commissioner
Gerard Mitchell, P.E.I.’s first police commissioner and a retired chief justice, says he would like to be the province’s referendum commissioner, but he has yet to hear if the job is his.
“I’d be interested in doing it,’’ he said. He added he has not heard anything “officially or unofficially’’.
The Guardian has learned that the secretive Legislative Management Committee, a committee made up of all parties and chaired by Speaker Buck Watts, held an urgent meeting on Friday in an effort to get all-party agreement for Mitchell to be the referendum commissioner. The 45-minute meeting, which was not listed on the committee’s website, ended without the support of the Opposition Progressive Conservatives or the Green party.
Opposition parties are concerned the process is being controlled by the premier’s office because Premier Wade MacLauchlan said back in May he wanted Mitchell.
There were eight other applicants, sources say.
The name put forward for referendum commissioner will need the support of two-thirds of MLAs. That means Mitchell’s appointment needs the support of 18 members. The Liberals only have 16 MLAs in the House, including the speaker. That means at least two Oppositions MLAs must support the recommendation.
The referendum commissioner is a requirement under the Electoral System Referendum Act that sets out the rules that will determine if P.E.I. changes to a mixed member proportional system.
That vote will be tied to the next general election.
Charles MacKay, clerk of the legislative assembly, confirms the committee met in camera Friday to discuss the recommendations for both the position of referendum commissioner and the clerk position.
MacKay is stepping down in March. Both recommendations will be made public during the fall sitting of the legislature, which begins Tuesday.
The candidate for clerk position can be approved with a simple majority, which means the Liberals can pass the clerk’s appointment without the support of the Opposition parties.