After over a century of predictable election results and majority governments, Prince Edward Island voters shook up provincial politics by electing a minority government and elevating the Green Party to Official Opposition. This is the first time in Canada that the Green Party has had such electoral success. The Progressive Conservative (PC) Party has returned to power following almost twelve years of Liberal governments.
During the April 23rd election, Prince Edward Islanders also voted against a move to a form of proportional representation. The traditional ‘first past the post’ form of elections will continue.
The thought of a Green Party government did cause some angst among the PEI business community. The election of the PC Party may provide comfort to PEI businesses as the Party’s election platform was pro-business. It remains uncertain how the parties will work together in a minority government. All three parties are committed to fiscal responsibility though, which could provide a basis for cooperation.
The new PC government will have an opportunity to survive for at least two years given voter fatigue from the provincial and upcoming federal elections combined with the likelihood that the provincial Liberals will be holding a leadership convention.
The election win for the PC Party was surprising as the Party had been floundering in the polls for years and had just elected their Leader, Dennis King in February 2019. Mr. King ran an exceptional campaign, focusing on collaborative style of politics and support for the business community.
Election polling had the Green Party in the lead throughout the campaign based on the popularity of Party Leader, Peter Bevan-Baker. Mr. Baker’s personal popularity was enough to catapult the Green Party from obscurity to Official Opposition but was not enough for the Greens to form government.
The election was extremely disappointing for the Liberals who lost government and were demoted to third party status while their Leader, Wade MacLauchlan, failed to win his own seat. Under the MacLauchlan Liberals, PEI has experienced significant economic growth and population growth, while producing balanced budgets. However, the former Premier’s non-consultative approach to governing was a constant concern to stakeholders. Furthermore, low income Islanders often expressed that they were not experiencing any benefit from the Island’s new prosperity.
Once the new government is sworn in, Retail Council of Canada (RCC) will arrange meetings with members of cabinet based on areas of interest to retailers.
In the coming months, there will be a byelection in one of the constituencies given that the Green Party candidate tragically died four days before the election. The by-election will not affect the outcome of the general election.
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