Opposition Leader James Aylward believes the process for selecting the Referendum Commissioner needs to be more public and transparent.
"During the long debate over the government’s referendum bill it became clear one of the big issues was a question of trust about how fair the process would be. To try and address that I’m calling for the Legislative Management Committee to conduct the next step in the process in a more publicly transparent way, " said Aylward.
According to the referendum bill a Referendum Commissioner will be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Legislature upon recommendation from the all-party Legislative Management Committee. Aylward is calling for the position of Referendum Commissioner position to be publicly advertised through Engage PEI and for any Legislative Management Committee meetings to select the Referendum Commissioner to be open to the public. Aylward has also written the members of the Legislative Management Committee to recommend this course of action.
Legislative Management Committee meetings are typically held in camera behind closed doors. Aylward noted that the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy, which is the federal counterpart of PEI's Legislative Management Committee, has held all their meetings open to the public and webcasted since last June. Additionally, several provinces such as Newfoundland and British Columbia hold similar committee meetings publicly and broadcast the proceedings.
"The debate over the Referendum was a public process for all to see. The referendum itself will be a public process. The process for selecting the Referendum Commissioner should also be done openly and transparently for Islanders to have confidence that there’s a fair process in place. That’s why we’re making this call and we hope that the other committee members from the Liberals and Greens agree and support it too," said Aylward.