The following was delivered by Peter Bevan-Baker in the Legislature as a Member Statement on June 9, 2020.
One of the biggest challenges of living in a society based on systemic racism, misogyny, and homophobia is that the assumed superiority of the white male heterosexual is built into every fibre of our culture. It is in the air that we breathe, the history we read, and every aspect of our daily lives. For someone like me, who fits into that norm, it is often hard to clearly see what is so glaringly obvious to others. Privilege creates blind spots and the greater the privilege the larger the blind spots.
In some ways it is like driving on a crowded multilane highway. When I learned to drive I was trained to always check my blind spots. A driver can do a lot of damage if they change lanes and are not aware of what is happening around them.Read more
As Renew PEI moves through the various stages, it’s not enough to simply open the doors of businesses again and hope everything turns out just right. Island owned businesses now need local support more than ever. An important way to help save local businesses during this crisis is through creating a local procurement strategy. Governments on PEI have the largest buying power in the province. The provincial government alone spends millions of dollars in procurement. Now is the time to use that buying power to support our local businesses.Read more
COVID-19 has made the world seem smaller for many of us. Our daily commute is often to the back yard or a wellness walk around the block. We are driving a great deal less than we were, and we still have all the same road infrastructure. It’s just not being used as much. Maybe this is an opportunity for us to rethink how we can better utilize it in this time of changed behaviours.
A time for courageous creativity
We could take advantage of the underutilized streets around PEI and set in place additional active transportation lanes. We could encourage and support healthy activities like biking and walking by turning some streets into safer and more easily accessible active transportation routes. Some roads could be blocked off to vehicular traffic, while others could be turned into one-way streets thereby freeing up safe and fun lanes for alternative, active transportation.Read more
The Premier’s Economic Recovery Council could well be a very helpful tool. According to a government press release on March 30th, the council was established with the expressed intent of engaging the business community to advise the Premier on the road to recovery, and on the challenges they face as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Of course, this prompts the questions: which parts of the business community are we engaging? And who’s missing from the table?
First rule: don’t talk about the economic recovery council
Since the announcement, the Official Opposition and the media have been endeavoring to get these details, but to no avail. It seems the first rule of the economic council is “Don’t talk about the economic council”. But that is not helpful! So, why do details of this economic council matter in the first place? The questions you ask at the onset have a profound impact on the answers you wind up with at the end.Read more
It is often difficult to start a conversation about why things are harder for women, or how some things affect women more or differently. In my experience, some people want to jump in with “what about the men in those situations?” Valid point, however, when we are talking about the experiences of one group, we need to value it and give that conversation space. It is in truly hearing and understanding people’s stories that change happens.
As we move into the phases of the plan to “Renew PEI Together”, I am concerned a Gender Based Analysis lens has not been used to ensure the safety of women from COVID-19 and from unnecessary stress and burden. Using this analysis you are able to assess the different experiences of women, men and non-binary people to policies, programs and initiatives. This assessment ensures equitable support is offered to everyone affected.Read more
The opening of Lennon House is wonderful news and a long time coming. Led by Dianne Young, who tragically lost her own son to addiction, Lennon House has been a grassroots initiative. Community members have come together to fill an identified gap in service for those in recovery and in need of housing and treatment supports.
During the current COVID-19 crisis, Lennon House has received pilot-level funding from government to open in limited capacity for a 6-month period. However, the long-term status of Lennon House, and other mental health and addictions services in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, remains uncertain.Read more
The challenges for our local businesses have never been more complex. As sectors begin to come back online with easing of COVID-19 restrictions, it’s critical for government to add a business owner’s lens to its decision making. However, this does not always appear to be happening. Though you can be sure business owners and employees have spent a lot of time in the last few weeks thinking through what changes will be necessary to operate in our new reality. They have valuable insight into the unique challenges they will face.Read more
One of the reasons I decided to pursue a career in politics is to work with others to address the “wicked problems.” These “wicked problems” are the big, complex issues that cannot be left to the private sector, the community sector, or individuals. These problems require significant collective action and can only be addressed by government. Climate change, reconciliation with Indigenous nations, or mobilizing a coordinated response to a pandemic are all examples of “wicked problems”.Read more
It has been said there is no room for politics during a pandemic. I agree. However, there is always a place for public oversight and accountability, even during a crisis. Since COVID-19, the government has rolled out program after program with information on when it will be available, how to get help, and who is eligible to receive the support.
The $4.7M questions
Last week, Minister of Agriculture, Bloyce Thompson, announced $4.7 million of funding to the PEI Potato Board. This announcement of this funding was done differently. When it was announced, only a vague nondescript purpose with no follow-up information was provided. This is leaving Islanders with a lot of questions.
Did this funding go directly to the farmers or did it go to the potato processors? If it went to the processors, why? Did they have to make commitments to guarantee the viability of their contract farmers? Were farmers consulted as to what they thought the funding should be used for? I believe Minister Thompson needs to answer these questions.Read more
Last evening, I read a CBC news article that said the Kids Help Line has seen a 70% increase in calls from Prince Edward Island during the COVID-19 pandemic. The top issues of these calls were sexual abuse, depression, anxiety, emotional abuse, and self-harming. This speaks to the increased vulnerability of our children and youth during a pandemic. It also highlights the need for a Child and Youth Advocate (CYA).Read more