Second Session, 65th General Assembly
The Second Session of the 65th General Assembly resumed on November 15, 2016, and after 19 sitting days, adjourned to the call of the Speaker on December 15, 2016.
Twenty-five bills received Royal Assent during the fall sitting. Perhaps most notable among these was the Municipal Government Act, a wide-ranging bill that repeals several municipally-focused statutes and establishes a new legislative framework for existing and new cities, towns and rural municipalities on the Island. No Private Member's Bills were tabled during the Fall sitting.
On November 24, 2016, Government presented its capital budget for 2017-18, with a total of $96.6 million in spending. The largest areas of investment are in highway projects, healthcare facilities and school renovations.
Provincial Plebiscite on Electoral Reform
From October 29 to November 7, 2016, a provincial plebiscite was held to gauge Islanders' preferences among five voting systems. Voting was done over the internet, by telephone and in-person, and Islanders as young as 16 as of November 7 were eligible to vote. The plebiscite was carried out as a preferential vote in which voters could rank each of the five options. Majority support was required for a system to win. Votes were counted in rounds until a majority was received, with the last place system eliminated each round and the next preferences of those votes distributed among the remaining systems.
In the end, Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) won with 52.42 per cent (19,418 votes) after four rounds of counting. First-Past-The-Post, PEI's current system, came in second with 42.84 per cent (15,869 votes). A total of 37,040 Islanders cast votes, among 102,464 who were eligible to do so, for a voter turnout of 36.46 per cent.
Debate on Plebiscite Results
In the fall sitting two motions on the plebiscite results were debated. Motion 54, "Plebiscite on electoral reform," tabled by Leader of the Third Party Peter Bevan-Baker, called upon Government to introduce legislation to implement Mixed Member Proportional Representation for the next provincial election. Motion 80, "Democratic Renewal: A Clear Question and a Binding Vote," tabled by Premier H. Wade MacLauchlan, noted the plebiscite's low voter turnout and called for consideration of legislation to bring about a binding referendum on PEI's voting system to be held in conjunction with the next provincial election; for Mixed Member Proportional...