A year unlike any other
By Peter Bevan-Baker, MLA
Leader of the Official Opposition
Looking back to my childhood, this is the time of the year when our family developed enduring and unique traditions. Some of those have stayed with me into adulthood as Ann and I developed customs with our own growing family. In the midst of all the seasonal celebrating, taking the opportunity to look back at the year is one thing that I have always liked to do. During the course of a year a lot of living happens. Getting out the calendar reminds us of the range of experiences that have made up the last twelve months and provides an opportunity to give thanks for things that may have been forgotten along the way.
At the end of this legislative session, I want to do the same sort of thing. Looking back to a year ago, the contrast is stark. At the end of the fall sitting in 2019, there was the usual flurry of seasonal events, visits from distant family members to look forward to, community concerts, parties, dropping in to friends’ houses, and planning your way around the levees that were only a few weeks away. This year my empty calendar is a reminder of the year that COVID stole.
It wasn’t that nothing happened, of course: lots and lots happened, but way too much of it was bewildering, scary, and chaotic. Although I wouldn’t describe the sitting that just ended with those adjectives, it definitely presented its own challenges as well as moments of success and joy.
Advancing the needs of Islanders
This sitting we asked important questions related to mental health and addictions, affordable housing, social equity and inclusion, building a greener economy, protecting our water and lands, and supporting the tourism sector, all while holding government accountable.
We initiated debate on sustainable tourism opportunities, resolving the housing crisis, the support of Treaty rights, and ensuring Islanders have access to vaccinations they need.
We passed motions pressuring government to make mental health and addictions programs and services a priority, and ensuring government provides answers to decisions impacting Islanders in a timely manner.
We also succeeded in making PEI a leader, and the envy of Canada, in the fight against climate change by passing Green legislation that sets the strongest provincial emissions targets in Canada.
Our accomplishments this past sitting, as well as the work of the previous 18 months, clearly demonstrate that having a strong Green presence in the Legislative Assembly is helping create a fair, equitable PEI – a province that promotes and protects the dignity and security of every Islander.
Our caucus remains committed to working in partnership with other members of the House to build a strong post-COVID province where all Islanders, no matter who they are or where they are from, have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Our commitment to one another serves us well
Since last March, Islanders have shown their unshakable commitment to each other. We continue to be a model to the rest of the country, and indeed the world, for how strong community and a sense of responsibility to one’s neighbours are how we will create a safe, healthy and vibrant future together.
As we approach the shortest day of the year, I am reminded of the pivotal ceremonies celebrated by so many religions and cultures around the winter solstice. The darkest days of the year begin to fall away behind us, and we start emerging back towards the light. I hope that in our journey through COVID, the darkest days are also behind us, and we will emerge to a brighter year ahead. I also hope the strains caused by the pandemic will soon ease.
Happy Holidays to you all and best wishes for the brightest, healthiest, and most prosperous New Year.