Kudos to the new government for soliciting public input before moving ahead with some of the most important initiatives on its agenda.
We hope that residents will take advantage of every opportunity to get more involved in the territory’s affairs, and that their advice will be carefully considered as the government moves ahead.
In recent weeks, the public has been asked to weigh in on the proposed Consumer Protection Act, draft environmental legislation, a draft beach policy, and plans to reform the public transportation system, among others.
All of these initiatives are much needed, but they are also potentially controversial. The government, then, is right not to proceed without asking for the community’s input in each case.
However, unless residents contribute, such efforts will be in vain. In that regard, we noted a good sign recently: Meetings about the consumer protection bill have been well attended, with residents expressing good ideas and legitimate concerns. As a result, we expect that the final law, which the House of Assembly is scheduled to debate later this month, will be stronger.
Public discussion also lessens the likelihood that the HOA will have to revisit a law shortly after it is passed, as has happened too frequently in recent years.
The potential downfalls of proceeding without public input became abundantly clear recently when Premier Andrew Fahie neglected to consult residents before announcing wide-ranging plans to reform the belongership system.
The backlash was vicious, sparking controversy and bitter division within the community.
To Mr. Fahie’s credit, he then backpedalled, holding several community meetings and changing course based on the feedback received. But if he had held the meetings in the first place, we suspect that much ugliness could have been avoided.
We hope that the recent calls for input about other issues are a sign that his administration has learned its lesson.
Working with the public to hammer out laws and policies is hard work, but it is the only way to achieve optimal results. When everyone gets the chance to weigh in on the government’s plans, they will feel more invested its work and this democracy will grow stronger.