This is where members of the Green Party of PEI elected caucus share their thoughts about contemporary issues on Prince Edward Island.

Angus MacLean and hanging up the drills

Today I threw in the towel. It was clear that I couldn’t carry on indefinitely trying to juggle all these balls simultaneously. So I ran up the white flag: cashed in my chips: laid down my arms: packed it in: gave up the ghost: took the count: ate humble pie.

I have been a dentist for over 30 years, and it’s a job I love: I’ve even become quite good at it, if I do say so myself. But despite my best efforts to maintain my office in Hampton, and carry out my duties as MLA for district 17 and leader of the Island Green Party, I have decided to hang up my drills. On Thursday I sold my dental clinic.

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Politics is interesting

Politics is interesting. It has so many facets and you never quite know how each day will be shaped, and some days are a bit of a blur. However, one aspect of the job that I have found to be consistently positive is standing committee meetings. We have 8 standing committees and one special committee on democratic renewal. I have the privilege of sitting on them all, and it is where I, and all MLAs have an opportunity to further our knowledge on a wide variety of issues. Some of the most useful work we do as MLAs gets done in standing committees. Outside the politically charged environment of the Legislative Assembly, there is a certain freedom and collegiality which almost always makes for constructive discussion. In the last week we have had meetings on topics as varied as the Auditor General’s report, renewable energy, help for grandparents, and strategies for mental health.

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To oppose, or merely to pose?

This week I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with a class of political science majors at UPEI. The discussion centered around democratic reform, but it also branched off in many interesting and provocative directions. Following an answer I gave on how different voting systems affect the behaviour of elected representatives – with some tending to promote antagonism and hostility, while others tend to collaboration and compromise – I was asked what the purpose of the opposition is in a parliament. Surely, the individual insisted, the opposition is there to oppose government and hold them to account?

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Municipal restructuring as a good marriage

Valentine’s Day has got me in a soppy, romantic mood, and it is in this spirit that I offer these thoughts.

I got married almost 30 years ago. I’m a lucky man: I chose the kindest person I’ve ever met to be my wife, and though none of us can predict the future, it looks like we’ll be good for at least a few more years. If Ann were writing this blog, I hope she would say something similar. The years of courtship were special, and the energy and naivety of youth propelled us towards a memorable wedding in St. John’s where the Scottish and Newfoundland families met (and sang, danced, ate and drank together) for the first time. The whole episode from our first encounter (in a dental chair – hold the romance – “do you floss?”…. “I do”) to the wedding (in a spectacular Newfoundland church – bring on the romance - “do you take this woman”……”I do”) was a rollicking delight.

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Getting the best result from electoral reform

With the second round of democratic renewal public consultations about to get under way, I thought it might be a good time to talk about the unique opportunity that PEI has to shape national affairs.

Since its birth, Canada has used the “First-Past-The-Post” system to elect governments at the federal and provincial levels. Prime Minister Trudeau has stated that from now on that won’t be the case federally. The next federal election will use something different to elect our House of Commons.

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The great shuffle kerfuffle

Only Premier MacLauchlan knows what motivated his somewhat unexpected cabinet shuffle yesterday. Was it to initiate the much-talked-about rejuvenation of his government? Was it done out of necessity to shore up a floundering ministry and minister? Was it to appease a disgruntled and fractious backbencher? Whatever it was, I think on balance the new cabinet is better, more diverse and more suited to our needs.

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Sustainable New Year

Each New Year creates a clear boundary in time. It causes us to pause and look both backwards and forwards; to the year that was, and to the possibilities that lie ahead. Although January 1st is an entirely random point in time to designate as the beginning of the year, the ceaseless flow of the seasons is a natural rhythm that truly distinguishes one annual cycle from another. But today the ancient, slow pulse of those seasons is not as reassuringly predictable as it once was. This week it was warmer at the North Pole than it was in Chicago, Vienna and Istanbul, and weather patterns everywhere are becoming increasingly erratic.

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A caring government

About 20 years ago, before my family moved to PEI, I remember meeting a man at a strawberry social, and we got talking about politics. He was the first person to tell me that there wasn’t much difference between the Liberals and Conservatives on the Island, and that all governments on PEI tended to be more left-leaning than in other jurisdictions because we care about the well-being of our neighbour, and we like to take care of each other. I found out many years later, that this gentleman was Wes MacAleer, though I had no idea who he was the first time we met.

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Keeping the lights on

Like most Islanders, we lost power for an extended time following the storm last week. And like most Islanders we were caught by surprise and were unprepared for just how damaging the seemingly mild storm was. Could we have been better prepared? And can we expect more of this during the next few months? Speaking personally, I wish I’d filled up the bath tub with water, and as always I lament the fact that we don’t have a generator …. but never quite enough to go out and invest in one. Collectively, we could invest in a similar sort of insurance against the next devastating storm which will inevitably come, if not this winter, then some winter in the near future.

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Going through the motions

I am unaware of the origins of the phrase “going through the motions”, but I’m sure Islanders understand its meaning: to do things insincerely or in a cursory manner.

After a couple of sessions in the House, where we literally and metaphorically “go through the motions”, I am increasingly convinced that the origins of the term are political.

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