Being an MHK is not just about ensuring good governance and service delivery by our civil servants and their departments. It is also very much about addressing the social issues that concern us all, or particular sections of our Island community.
The last administration delivered long needed reform of abortion legislation. If elected, I will seek to introduce legislation or support other MHKs on the following issues:
• Assisted Dying — I would like to see consultation on assisted dying legislation for the Isle of Man include provision for those who are not ter-minally ill, but are suffering from progressive illnesses and other conditions, with no hope of recovery. Having adequate safeguards is crucial. There are many jurisdictions now that we can take evidence from.
• Animal Welfare – The Animal Welfare Bill introduced earlier this year was a travesty; not fit for purpose. I will support the introduction of a new Bill that does what it says on the tin. Improves welfare for our companion animals and protects wildlife such as mountain hares.
• Recreational Use of Cannabis—It is time that this issue was properly tackled. The ‘War on Drugs’ isn’t working. Like prohibition in the USA last century, it is causing more harm than it is solving. It is wrong that users of cannabis can face a criminal record and prison, while those of us who drink alcohol responsibly have no such penalties. Consultation on decriminalising like Portugal or legalising like Canada and many US states, is long overdue. I will support a review of the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1976 and public consultation to give Island voters the choice.
Other social issues, not requiring legislation, but which need attention include:
• An Island Youth Strategy—There are many things that young people can and do enjoy taking part in on the Island, but there is no co-ordinated approach. It may not be a big issue in Ayre & Michael, but it can be in Ramsey, Peel and other towns. I support an integrated approach on this, involving sports and other community organisations, along with Police, Education & Social Services, as appropriate.
• Commitment to improving access to our streets, public spaces, buildings (including Tynwald itself), for people with disabilities; working with local organisations such as Disability Networks.