Red Haired Anne’s red sanded island carries the colour into the P.E.I. Legislature once again as the Liberals are swept back in with a majority government under new leader Wade MacLauchlin, Canada’s second openly gay premier elected to office. The voter turnout for the election was around 84% of eligible voters. Numbers like that haven’t been seen since the Quebec Referendums.
What originally seemed to be a lock for MacLauchlin’s Liberals became a far tighter race once the campaign was underway. Previous leader Rob Ghiz won over 60% of the popular vote (a rarity in Canadian politics), but was rumoured to be stepping down in order to pursue one of PEIs seats in the Federal Election. The subsequent 15% drop in popular vote was certainly an eye opener. Things got as tense as politics can get in Canada’s smallest province, where everyone personally knows their MLA, but the little red island in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence nevertheless remains overwhelmingly red.
The real news from the election comes from the PCs and the Greens. Although the PCs have succeeded in winning three more seats then they had won last time and five more than they had had a few short weeks ago, their percentage of the popular vote dropped by three percent from 40% to 37%. Former Charlottetown City Councillor Rob Lantz, who became Progressive Conservative Leader a few weeks ago, failed to win his own seat in Charlottetown-Brighton. If he decides to resign his post as PC Leader, he may go down in the history books as having the shortest tenure of any political party leader.
Also of note is the absence of orange and the presence of green on the electoral map of the Island. Thanks to our electoral system, despite polling better than the Greens the NDP failed to win a single seat in the legislature while the Greens succeeded in obtaining their first seat in the Island’s history and the second seat in the history of Atlantic Canada. NDP Leader Mike Redmond lost in his riding and another NDP candidate came within over 100 votes of winning, but ultimately lost to the Liberal incumbent. The NDP has only ever elected one MLA to the Island Legislature, and has never succeeded in electing an MP to the House of Commons. The last (and only) successful NDP MLA Herb Dickieson plans to run in the upcoming federal election.
With three consecutive wins for Liberal Parties in the Atlantic Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI), the only provinces whose provincial Liberals are directly tied to the Federal Party, this could bode very well for Justin Trudeau in the coming Federal Election. It also holds out hope for the Federal Green Party, likewise directly affiliated with its provincial counterparts (now having MLAs in New Brunswick and PEI). Meanwhile, although the NDP showing was okay, the results of the last three elections in the Maritime Provinces do not bode well for Thomas Mulcair. For now, he’s a bit distracted leaping for joy over what’s going on in Alberta and we aren’t supposed to remind Canadians that the Federal NDP is tied directly to their provincial counterparts.
As elections this year are going, PEI’s wasn’t all that interesting, but there was enough to keep the political fires lit on the little Island for another four years. Unlike the people of Ontario (whose turnout was 54% in 2014), politics remains appealing to Islanders. Why not. In their scenario, all politics are local, Mike Duffy notwithstanding.