Mixed messages from MacLauchlan government on high-speed Internet: MacKay
Charlottetown – Kensington-Malpeque MLA and Opposition Economic Development and Tourism Critic Matthew MacKay is questioning the latest round of mixed messages from the MacLauchlan government on its secretive high-speed Internet contract with Bell Aliant.
“Poor access to high-speed Internet is an issue that limits economic growth, job creation and growing our population in rural communities. Consumers are frustrated by the lack of service and the lack of transparency about this secret deal. We tried once already to subpoena this contract without success. If the Minister had been clear in his letter in the first place when he refused the committee we’d be further along. Before the next meeting the Minister had better straighten out the government members on the committee,” says MacKay.
Repeated attempts to secure the release of the government’s 2008 contract with Bell Aliant by the Opposition PC Caucus have been blocked by the government majority on the Standing Committee on Education and Economic Development. Most recently on September 1, the Liberal majority on the committee voted down an Opposition motion to subpoena the contract after the committee received correspondence from the Minister refusing to release the contract.
“Clearly the MacLauchlan government is in disarray over its secret high-speed Internet deal. Here we have the Minister calling on the Standing Committee to do something that his own government committee members have already voted to block once. We’re just going to get the same result unless those government committee members are replaced or get new marching orders from the Premier,” says Georgetown-St. Peters MLA and Standing Committee member Steven Myers.
Note: A timeline of events is below along with correspondence to the Standing Committee on the issue.
Timeline – High Speed Internet
November 23, 2015 – Written Questions tabled on High Speed Internet access.
November 26, 2015 – Issue raised in Question Period by Opposition.
December 1, 2015 - Legislature unanimously approves Opposition motion on high speed Internet and refers issue to Standing Committee on Education and Economic Development .
April 8, 2016 - Correspondence from Bell Aliant received by Standing Committee, updating on service.
April 27, 2016 - Standing Committee report notes seriousness of issue and commits to further investigation.
June 28, 2016 - Bell Aliant writes the Minister objecting to release of the contract to the Standing Committee.
August 18, 2016 - Committee writes the Minister of Economic Development requesting a copy of the contract.
Aug. 31 - Minister writes committee rejecting request for the contract release.
Sept. 1 - Liberal majority votes down motion to subpeona the contract and votes instead to hold a secret, in camera briefing from Bell Aliant over protest from Opposition committee members.
Sept. 6 – Minister emails CBC and says he will release contract if the committee formally requests it.
Sept. 12 – Minister tells Guardian that he can only release the contract if the Standing Committee subpoenas the contract.