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

PEI's Power Struggle

Most people don’t spend their days thinking about energy rate structures. We have so much else to deal with in our lives that thinking about how to make these structures more fair just doesn’t top the list for many people. But with my background in energy, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it.

I feel strongly that those who use less energy, should pay less. They should not have to pay more. The proposal I put forward at last year's rate hearing with IRAC had a lower cost first block and a higher cost second block. This proposal would lower energy rates for the vast majority of Islanders. This would be so very helpful, especially now when so many are finding it harder and harder to pay the bills.

This is also the reason why I introduced a bill in the legislature to amend our current approach. As it stands right now, the first "block" of power we all pay is the most expensive which means for the majority of Islanders, they are stuck with a higher cost for electricity. The cost only gets cheaper after you use more energy than a typical user would.

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Hammers and Nails

There is a saying that goes “when you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” The initiative announced by government this week to recruit Islanders in the fight against impaired driving seems to fit this analogy.

Prince Edward Island has a problem with impaired driving. Nearly every community on the Island has been impacted by the deadly results of driving drunk. We all have a responsibility to do our part to stop this scourge. However, it’s not enough to simply punish impaired driving, we must also do everything we can to prevent it.

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Patronage could come at a high price for Charlottetown

On Friday, the King government announced the appointment of a new board for the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation (CADC). This announcement has been long overdue; more than a year ago Premier King promised to reinstate the board. So with this week’s announcement I was looking forward to seeing a reinvigorated independent board. I was both shocked and disappointed that Premier King and his cabinet instead decided to use this as an opportunity to practice old-fashioned patronage politics.

Of the seven positions that the provincial government appointed, two were filled by former PC candidates and a third was filled by the spouse of a former PC party leader. I want to be perfectly clear that all three are engaged members of the Charlottetown community and can bring valuable experience to any table, but I am also very concerned about how Executive Council evaluated the candidates. I find it simply astounding that 42% of the most qualified people to serve should have such deep roots in the governing party. What are the odds of that? The whole thing reeks of offering rewards to partisan loyalists.

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Government’s Net Zero plan: A+ for goals, C- for action

It is really gratifying to see the Government of PEI has finally accepted the concepts and goals the Official Opposition has tirelessly fought for since starting our first session in the spring of 2019.

Like a teacher pleased with a good student’s progress, I am happy to see the government has finally understood what we have proposed for three sittings of the legislature.

In fact, the government is proposing a goal of reaching Net Zero energy in just 10 years and reaching Carbon Neutrality by 2040, 10 years ahead of Canada’s national goal.

For this, as a teacher, I would definitely award an A+ grade. Bravo! Three stars!

Now, of course, I am not a teacher, I am an MLA. I am worried about whether or not government will follow up on these lofty promises with real action. 

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Broken Promises Increase Despair

It should come as no surprise to anyone, especially anyone in public office, that mental health and addictions is a serious issue on PEI. Our office has heard countless heartbreaking stories of individuals who are struggling. Even more upsetting is the lack of help they often receive when they cry out for help. This was an issue long before COVID-19, but unfortunately, like many things, the pandemic has made it worse.

I know the current government is aware of this issue. One of their most talked about and popular campaign promises was to replace the current Hillsborough Hospital with a state of the art “Mental Health Campus.” While on the campaign trail, before he became Premier, Dennis King said he would “put shovels in the ground on day one if elected.” How exciting!

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Plans are good. Acting on those plans is better.

On Tuesday, government announced its intention to achieve net zero energy consumption by 2030. During the event, government released a framework document outlining what it hopes to do. In attendance were Premier Dennis King, Steven Myers who is Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy, and Natalie Jameson who is Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Change. While the Premier and Minister Myers spoke about government’s intention, Minister Jameson left without making a comment.

First of all, the Official Opposition is glad to see government finally realize what we have been saying all along. Which is, we can be responsibly ambitious in our goals to become net zero.

We are also very happy to hear government say it wants to include Islanders and Island businesses in the development of this plan. We have said a number of times in the House that in order to transition to sustainable, green communities and economy, everyone must have an opportunity to be engaged in the process and be given a stake in the decision-making.

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Going net zero means free money

Islanders all know about our many windmills, which on some windy days produce almost all the electricity needed here. What Islanders do not know is how the windmills benefit us and where the funds come from to build them.

The $30 million windmill project planned for Kings County, for instance, is being built by the P.E.I. Energy Corporation, a Crown corporation owned by us. They can borrow the needed funds at low government rates, around two per cent, and pay back the cost of the initial investment by selling the electricity produced to Maritime Electric. Ultimately, the Energy Corporation makes millions of dollars in profit, which they can use to increase energy efficiency for ordinary Islanders.

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Reflections on the Spring/Summer 2020 Legislative Sitting

As I pass the 5 year mark of being elected to the legislature, while I don’t feel like a veteran of the House, I do have a unique perspective from the corner of the room in which the newcomers to our provincial parliament sit. 

So much has changed during that time and a few moments from this sitting demonstrate just how much politics on PEI has been transformed.

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Systemic Racism and Blind Spots

The following was delivered by Peter Bevan-Baker in the Legislature as a Member Statement on June 9, 2020.

One of the biggest challenges of living in a society based on systemic racism, misogyny, and homophobia is that the assumed superiority of the white male heterosexual is built into every fibre of our culture.  It is in the air that we breathe, the history we read, and every aspect of our daily lives.  For someone like me, who fits into that norm, it is often hard to clearly see what is so glaringly obvious to others.  Privilege creates blind spots and the greater the privilege the larger the blind spots.

In some ways it is like driving on a crowded multilane highway. When I learned to drive I was trained to always check my blind spots.  A driver can do a lot of damage if they change lanes and are not aware of what is happening around them. 

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Changing government procurement strategies will create a resilient local economy

As Renew PEI moves through the various stages, it’s not enough to simply open the doors of businesses again and hope everything turns out just right. Island owned businesses now need local support more than ever. An important way to help save local businesses during this crisis is through creating a local procurement strategy. Governments on PEI have the largest buying power in the province. The provincial government alone spends millions of dollars in procurement. Now is the time to use that buying power to support our local businesses.

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