I’m beginning to realize that in politics – as in life – you almost never get everything you want. This week was a good illustration of that truth.
On Tuesday I brought forward my first bill for second reading, the first chance for the House to debate it. The Well-being Measurement Act was generally well received, with nobody in the House having any particular issue with the essence of the legislation, more so with the procedure of the bill.
A bit of background is needed here. Most pieces of legislation you can think of as small apps being added on to a pretty well established operating system: small tweaks to an already established structure. What makes the Well-being Measurement Act a little awkward for some legislators to get their heads around is that it isn’t an “add-on” piece of legislation like most other new bills, it is more like a change to the operating system itself. It asks that government use something other than (or perhaps more accurately, in addition to) Gross Domestic Product as a measure of our progress as a society. Without getting too wonky (but fill your boots with wonkiness here if you wish), the Well-being Measurement Act would take into account, in addition to economic indicators, social and environmental factors to give a more accurate and complete picture of how PEI is doing: of how government is meeting the goals of improving the quality of life of all Islanders, as we ourselves define it. Well that all sounds very sensible and lovely, but the gears of political machinery grind slowly, and new ideas – no matter how attractive and timely - can get stalled. However, I’m still excited that this bill will be discussed further in committee and brought back to the House at a later date.
Also this week, we had the release of the interim report from the special committee on Democratic Renewal, of which I am privileged to be a member. For those professional political cynics out there, I need to say that this committee has largely restored my faith in both politicians and the political process. Positive things can happen when people of good will come with an open mind and principled intentions to make things better. Much work is left to do on this file, but I have faith in my fellow committee members, and in our Premier’s commitment to transformative change, which would make Islanders, as he puts it “pioneers” in electoral reform. While I understand that electoral reform is never at the top of anyone’s political agenda, I hope that the next year of consultation and education is sufficient to allow Islanders to truly understand the opportunity we have to lead the way in substantial electoral change. In my opinion, this would have profound implications on everything from how politicians behave and think, to how we craft policy. A lot to ask for? Maybe, but I think Islanders are ready to provide inspiration to the rest of the country.
So the fruits of my week …. A process that holds the promise of heading somewhere exciting, and a bill that sort of maybe made some kind of progress. Not everything that I had hoped for …. but that’s life.