Bill shut down by ‘re­tal­ia­tory be­hav­iour,’ say Greens

Journal Pioneer - - THE ISLAND - BY STU NEATBY

Green party Leader Pe­ter Be­van-Baker says de­bate of a bill propos­ing amend­ments to the Elec­tions Act was shot down in an act of “re­tal­ia­tory be­hav­iour” by the gov­ern­ment bench on Tues­day night.

The pri­vate mem­ber’s bill, which would have trans­ferred the re­spon­si­bil­ity of ap­point­ing district re­turn­ing of­fi­cers from cab­i­net to the chief elec­toral of­fi­cer of Elec­tions P.E.I., was voted down be­fore it could be de­bated Tues­day night. Be­van-Baker sug­gested this was done be­cause he and fel­low Green Party MLA Hannah Bell had de­layed de­bate of leg­is­la­tion re­lated to the prov­ince’s car­bon tax, through a forced de­bate in first read­ing, ear­lier in the ses­sion.

Amend­ments to the Gaso­line Tax Act, along with the Cli­mate Lead­er­ship Act, both even­tu­ally passed on Wed­nes­day night, although de­bate was some­times bit­terly di­vided along party lines. On Tues­day night, Deputy Speaker Kath­leen Casey spoke about the pro­posed amend­ments to the Elec­tions Act, say­ing they should go be­fore the prov­ince’s leg­isla­tive man­age­ment com­mit­tee. Leg­isla­tive man­age­ment com­mit­tee meet­ings are not open to the pub­lic.

“One of the com­mit­tee’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in­cludes the rec­om­men­da­tion of the ap­point­ment of a num­ber of in­de­pen­dent of­fi­cers of the leg­isla­tive assem­bly, in­clud­ing the chief elec­toral of­fi­cer,” Casey said in the leg­is­la­ture on Tues­day night.

“I am con­cerned by the lack of re­spect shown by the Third Party to­ward the leg­isla­tive man­age­ment com­mit­tee.”

All gov­ern­ment mem­bers, as well as three PC mem­bers, voted against the bill pro­ceed­ing to se­cond read­ing. Be­van-Baker said shut­ting down a bill at such an early stage was un­usual.

“To have it shut down like that was a lit­tle shock­ing to us,” he said.

Be­van-Baker said the bill was in­tro­duced in re­sponse to a 2015 re­port by the Is­land’s then-chief elec­toral of­fi­cer Gary McLeod. He said the re­port raised a num­ber of con­cerns about the or­ga­ni­za­tion of elec­tions on P.E.I.

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