What? NDP-PC Collaborating?!

Joe Byrne and Dennis King Share Views on Housing

   What a fascinating experiment took place on Friday, December 21st.  It was the darkest day of the year, but this was an event that shone some light on one of the most pressing issues on PEI.  It was a discussion about appropriate and affordable housing — and it was innovative in two ways: in non-partisan collaboration, and in the channel which was used for sharing that.

   NDP Leader Joe Byrne and Dennis King, candidate for the Progressive Conservative leadership, sat together and talked about their approaches to PEI’s housing crisis.  They did so by means of a live Facebook broadcast.  The discussion was recorded and within the first day or so it had attracted more than 2000 views.

   The half-hour piece is available at https://www.facebook.com/DennisKingPC/videos/576045779485254/.

   Joe Byrne’s introduction stated this theme: “Collaboration is not just something to be talked about; it’s something to be done.”  Viewer comments on Facebook echoed that belief, and congratulated the two men for putting it into practice.  Responders said it was refreshing to see two politicians having an intelligent and constructive discussion, listening to one another with respect and, while acknowledging differences, finding much to agree on and work toward in a cooperative way.

   Common themes emerged.  Byrne and King expressed the need for longer-term thinking — that the housing issue has a decades-long history and requires planning over a decades-long future, instead of the short term of a political mandate.  As Byrne said, “People don’t have 3- or 4-year mortgages.”  As well, there was a joint recognition that housing is an integral part of the broader matter of income justice for all.

   King and Byrne acknowledged the differing emphasis which the two parties put on leadership responsibility in the housing field: the PC preference for private development, the New Democrat use of governmental capacities.  But there was common conviction about the fundamental need to tap the strength of all three sectors — public, private and community not-for-profit.

   The two men also shared a vision of genuine neighbourhood: a healthy mix of inclusive options to suit people with different needs and budgets …technologically smart buildings … public transit and proximity to stores and services … a place that is friendly to walkers, cyclists, wheelchair- or scooter-users, with plenty of green space and nearby parkland.

   Byrne and King vowed to keep talking, to keep listening, and to keep working for good housing for all.

   The New Democrat housing strategy can be found here on the website under ‘Joe’s View’ — in “Housing: Back to the Future” .