Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker is promising, if elected in 2015 to call for a full-scale public inquiry into the Provincial Nominee Program. In doing so, he is endorsing a Guardian Editorial published just over a year ago.
“The release of recipients names last week answered one small question surrounding the Provincial Nominee Program, but is leaves so many larger, more important questions unanswered. The level of public interest, and the cloud of suspicion that continues to hang over this issue makes a full-scale public inquiry an absolute necessity,” says Bevan-Baker.
“The authority for conducting such an inquiry is available through current provincial legislation,” continued Bevan-Baker. “The Public Inquiries Act gives a commissioner the power to call any witnesses, who are compelled to testify under oath and produce any documents in their possession. Premier Ghiz could call for such an inquiry immediately, and if he really wanted to get to the bottom of this and clear the air, that’s exactly what he would do.”
“Nobody really knows the extent of the problems surrounding PNP”, Bevan-Baker added, “but the amount of money involved – almost half a billion dollars - is about twice the entire sum associated with the sponsorship scandal in Quebec which brought down Paul Martin and the federal Liberals so humiliatingly a decade ago. If only some of the allegations being made surrounding the program on PEI are true, then PNP issue could well be the biggest uninvestigated political boondoogle in Island history. We need an inquiry to get the facts out.”
Bevan-Baker feels that it is critical, in order that Islanders can have restored faith in the governing structures of this province, that a full public inquiry be held. “Without one, the negative perception held by most Islanders unfairly tarnishes those companies who took proper advantage of a legitimate government program designed to encourage economic development rather than personal enrichment.”
“Until we know who made what decisions and who benefitted, we are left imagining all sorts of very unwholesome thoughts. Accountability and transparency in government are of paramount importance to the Green Party of PEI, and the precious relationship of trust and respect that has to exist between those who govern and those who are governed needs to be nurtured, not undermined. The failings around PNP are also a measure of our jurisdictional competency,” concluded Bevan-Baker: “We need to demonstrate that we are capable of investigating this fairly and thoroughly and putting our provincial house in order.”