Sum­mer break

MLAs in P.E.I. leg­is­la­ture pass 19 bills dur­ing spring sit­ting that lasted al­most 10 weeks

Journal Pioneer - - NEWS - BY RYAN ROSS

Af­ter MLAs spent 39 days in the leg­is­la­ture, the spring sit­ting of P.E.I.’s leg­isla­tive assem­bly came to an end Tues­day. Dur­ing the sit­ting, MLAs passed 19 bills cov­er­ing a wide range of is­sues, in­clud­ing a bill to deal with an up­com­ing ref­er­en­dum and leg­is­la­tion to cover post-se­condary schools and some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties un­der P.E.I.’s free­dom of in­for­ma­tion law. Af­ter the house closed Tues­day night, Pre­mier Wade MacLauch­lan said he thought the big event of the spring was the gov­ern­ment’s bud­get, which was a main part of the early days of a sit­ting that lasted al­most 10 weeks. “We’ve got­ten a lot done,” he said. In April, the gov­ern­ment tabled its sec­ond bal­anced bud­get with a $1.5-mil­lion sur­plus for 2018-2019, but it wasn’t the only busi­ness that had to be dealt with dur­ing the sit­ting. With the fed­eral gov­ern­ment set to make mar­i­juana use le­gal in Canada, the P.E.I. gov­ern­ment had to pre­pare the leg­is­la­tion nec­es­sary for its sale in the prov­ince. The Lib­er­als also had to deal with a ref­er­en­dum on elec­toral re­form that is planned to co­in­cide with the next pro­vin­cial elec­tion. It met stiff op­po­si­tion from the Greens with leader Peter Be­van Baker spend­ing sev­eral hours speaking to the bill be­fore other MLAs started to dis­cuss it. Even­tu­ally the bill passed af­ter nu­mer­ous amend­ments with the Lib­er­als mak­ing many changes in re­sponse to crit­i­cism about parts of the bill. MacLauch­lan said when the gov­ern­ment first in­tro­duced the leg­is­la­tion it made it clear amend­ments should be ex­pected and that it was a project re­quir­ing the kind of de­bate MLAs had in the house. “This is work that has been done well and it’s been pa­tient work,” he said. MLAs also passed leg­is­la­tion this spring to limit po­lit­i­cal dona­tions to $3,000 per year per per­son and ban cor­po­rate or union dona­tions. This sit­ting had a dif­fer­ent dy­namic with for­mer Lib­eral MLA Bush Dumville in the house as an in­de­pen­dent af­ter leav­ing the party ear­lier in the year. Dumville started the sit­ting with ques­tions about what he said was back­room in­ter­fer­ence in the pub­lic ac­counts com­mit­tee and other MLA busi­ness. He also man­aged to get a pri­vate mem­bers bill through the house to have the red fox named P.E.I.’s of­fi­cial an­i­mal em­blem. Back­bench Lib­eral MLA Al Roach also man­aged to get a pri­vate mem­bers bill passed to have plas­tic shop­ping bags banned in P.E.I. Out of all the bills passed dur­ing the sit­ting, MacLauch­lan said he thought mod­ern­iz­ing leg­is­la­tion deal­ing with com­pa­nies in P.E.I. will be one thing that stands out. “That will likely be in place for many, many years and lay a foun­da­tion on which a lot of de­ci­sions are made, and Is­lan­ders are able to do their busi­ness and makes their choices about how they do busi­ness on a mod­ern foun­da­tion,” he said. When it comes to ben­e­fits for Is­lan­ders, MacLauch­lan said changes to so­cial as­sis­tance the gov­ern­ment re­cently an­nounced are among the things that will be on Is­lan­ders’ minds the most. “Per­mit­ting peo­ple to earn more, to re­tain ben­e­fits, to see their lives get bet­ter with­out feel­ing that it’s all for naught.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.