For a government to be transparent and accountable, it needs the freedom to confidently advance the policies and programs that Islanders truly want implemented. How is an incoming Premier to know what those policies are? It’s actually not that difficult.
When Denny King was trying to become Premier King, he knew exactly what to say to jump on board the policies Islanders wanted – at least that was certainly true for policies on “open government” and “land”. King was able to articulate them with great precision and passion in each of the four main Leader debates leading up to April 23, 2019 election, but no where more clearly than in the Leaders Debate sponsored by the PEI Coalition for the Protection of Land.
Dennis King had asked me if I would be willing to provide him with some background information and briefing notes to help him prepare for those Leaders Debates. I took that as a good sign that he was sincerely committed to pursing some very important and progressive policies which I had previously advanced in the Leadership Campaign.
I not only provided King with detailed answers to the lists of questions that had been provided to each of the leaders in advance of each debate, I also spent 2 hrs in a room with Dennis King prepping him just hours before the actual debates took place for the Environment Debate; the Land Debate; and the Agriculture Debate; and 3 1/2 hrs for the final CBC debate.
King is a sponge when it comes to memorizing lines for a show. He soaked up just about everything I had to say on a wide range of land-related issues, including the importance of putting a “name search” on the business registry. I had explained to him how until that happens, there will continue to be a shroud of confusion over all the other issues relating to land limits and the violation of the Lands Protection Act.
As you will see from the video clip from that Land Debate at the end of this article – King totally got it, articulating perfectly the connections between open government, transparency and sharing of information, and the need to put a name search on the business registry as a “great first start”.
It’s now been more than a year and Premier King has put no name search on the registry. Something that costs nothing and would take a day by ITSS…..something that needs no legislation or new regulations, just a decision by Executive Council and an email to ITSS.
What conclusion can we draw from this lack of action on such an important issue? King has apparently not yet embarked on the journey towards open and honest government he promised he’d be taking; there has been no “great first start” (a name search on the registry) that King indicated would signal the beginning of that journey.
If Dennis King was truly sincere when he spoke those words about transparency and getting a name search on the Business Registry, it would appear he underestimated the paralyzing effect of the “french fry fear factor” and froze when he came up against the full intimidating force of that fear after becoming Premier.
I’d Rather eat rotten worms than have Robert Irving find out I talked to you!
It’s amazing how many people have contacted me lately either encouraging me to “keep digging into the $4.7 million” story or to “back the hell off criticizing the Potato Board!” Both camps have different types of “fear” motivating their comments and concerns; both types of comments are inspired by the very same french fry fear factor.
The french fry fear factor keeps people with important information that should be public from making that information public. Yet many do feel compelled to share that information with me – anonymously of course – spilling their guts in a frustrated rant over what they see unfolding behind the scenes, sometimes having direct, negative impacts on either their personal lives, businesses, communities or environment.
After blurting out whatever it is they called me to get off their chests, they then caution me that if I ever mention their name they’ll deny ever talking to me and break both my legs. Ok…I won’t do that…I love my legs!
Here’s what I heard the other day:
“Robert Irving has rolled back all his processing grower contracts by 15% for this year…..yet, Mary Jean Irving has planted an additional 900 acres.”
Is this true? Likely, knowing the source. Can I prove it? Nope. Our Government could find out if it’s true if they wanted to find out, but I’m sure they don’t want to know anything about anything that exposes any Irving shenanigans, all thanks to the french fry fear factor.
It’s Time for Premier King to Show us his “Apparent Sincerity” was real!
Premier King embraced the idea of putting a name search on the PEI Business Registry during the last PC leadership Campaign with great gusto. It was supposed to be the inaugural act that would signal the beginning of his campaign to open the floodgates of information flowing to Islanders to finally give us what we have been longing for and denied too long – if we’d only make King the Premier….he would lead us to the promised land of government transparency and accountability like Moses or the Pied Piper. Well…we did make him Premier, so it’s time to get out your staff or your penny whistle!
Listen to the passion, clarity and apparent sincerity in King’s words. How could anyone doubt the sincerity of his promise to give Islanders true access to information – something he (as a former journalist) understood was absolutely essential to understand the issues, have meaningful input into the development of public policy, and hold government accountable?
The denial of government information to Islanders has been unprecedented under the King Government. Its never been worse with FOIPP requests, as the King Government faces several pending Supreme Court Contempt Orders for illegally withholding records; as we continue to wait for an explanation why it was felt necessary to hide a $4.7 million gift to Robert Irving, and of course, why Premier King won’t put the name search on the Business Registry.
If I had know all my efforts to help King say exactly what he knew Islanders wanted him to say in those debates to get elected would result in him completely ignoring all those transparency policies; that he would totally betray Islanders by supporting the ongoing corruption and cover-up of the egaming scandal – keeping all the same people onboard that were running the show when Ghiz and MacLauchlan were in power – I would never have provided a single minute of my time or any assistance helping him to become Premier.
I personally regard what he has done as a complete betrayal of all Islanders, and I can assure you – no one sees the depths of that betrayal more than I do these days and I will continue to expose more and more of that betrayal in frequent stories until everyone else sees it as well, and the electorate then ensures an appropriate response ensues.
I’m sometimes tempted to despair when I see the current approval rating for a government that has so betrayed Islanders on so many CORE policy issues and promises – protecting bees, bringing justice to the egaming scandal & cover-up, implementing a Farmland Bank,…etc., promises that Premier King made to get elected. With regards to finally giving Islanders an open government, he has yet to take what he identified as what he announced would be his “great first step.” That tells us just how far the King Government has so far traveled on the road to transparency!