The Green Party of P.E.I. held a constituency meeting on June 29th, 2021 to discuss the new critic portfolio picked up by party and official opposition leader, the Honourable Peter Bevan-Baker. Along with discussing his new responsibilities in the agriculture & land portfolio, Bevan-Baker recounted some of his work within his already assigned critic roles. Bevan-Baker also provided a multitude of direct quotes to Global Green News.
New critic role
As part of the “Meet the new Critics” zoom series, the Green Party of Prince Edward Island held a discussion with their new agriculture & land critic, Peter Bevan-Baker. The event was not only significant because Bevan-Baker’s position is that of leader of the official opposition and the main government critic but also because he addressed concerns within his other critic portfolios. The party’s general strategy for reshuffling its shadow cabinet was also discussed extensively as well as what the future holds for P.E.I.’s official opposition.
When addressing the importance of the agriculture & land portfolio, the symbolism of having the party leader be responsible for this role was discussed. Bevan-Baker explained how distinctively this issue matters to the party. He posited the recognition on behalf of the party that agricultural communities are facing environmental and economic sustainability issues.
The honourable leader acknowledged that he has a lot to learn when it comes to this portfolio. Issues that were identified were that agricultural legislation is almost entirely situated in the provincial scope and needs careful attention. Land on the other hand, as described by Bevan-Baker is a complicated matter due to the fact that P.E.I. has very poor land planning. Land issues according to Bevan-Baker should fall under municipal jurisdictions but the province holds control over the majority of such issues.
The purpose of shuffling
When answering questions for Global Green News, Bevan-Baker indicated that critic roles were shuffled because the Green Party of Prince Edward Island expects to form government:
Bevan-Baker explained that the point was not for critics to get conformable in their roles but rather for his team to be able to address a diversity of issues.
When asked about the size of his team and whether their resources are enough to properly conduct their roles, Bevan-Baker was honest:
Bevan-Baker continued to discuss how shuffling his caucus roles and consultation with experts, the community and advisors makes up for any lack of resources. Digging deep into issues such as land ownership was highly emphasized by the leader.
Along with his new role, the party and opposition leader retained his former critic portfolios of Indigenous Affairs, intergovernmental affairs, Acadian and Francophone affairs.
The Indigenous Affairs portfolio was identified as increasing in meaning and depth:
Bevan-Baker expressed how the beginning of new understandings of Indigenous struggles past and present are crucial to issue areas in this portfolio. When discussing the French and Acadian Affairs portfolio, Bevan-Baker posited the need for expanding French language rights in P.E.I. which he and his party worked hard to advocate for.
Despite the volume of responsibilities on his shoulders, Bevan-Baker is confident in the party and in his team to get the job done. They are a government in waiting and hope to form a Green government in P.E.I. in the future.