P.E.I. Greens Are the Official Opposition, Guelph Greens Celebrate Anyway

The Progressive Conservative Party is expected to form minority government in the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island. Local and national media reported Tuesday night that after a close race in the polls between the PCs and the Green Party, it was the PCs that came out on top.

PC leader Dennis King, who was only named leader this past February, led the PC Party to a very narrow victory in an election that pollsters predicted might just barely go to the Greens. The new Tory government in P.E.I. will now join other recently elected Conservative counterparts in Alberta and Ontario in provincial governance.

The Tory win, considered by analysts as “somewhat unexpected”, follows a pattern of over 50 years where the Liberals would hold power for three terms and then the PCs would have the government for three.

But this year was different. The Green Party was predicted to not only be a strong third party challenger in this campaign, but they were also leading in many polls before and after the writ was drawn. When the Legislature was dissolved last month, the Green Party, led by Peter Bevan-Baker, held just two seats, and now they’re the Official Opposition.

The governing Liberals fell to third place, and even Premier Wade MacLauchlan lost his seat in the riding of Stanhope-Marshfield.

The final tally is 12 seats for the PCs, eight for the Greens, and six for the Liberals. The election of the MLA was postponed in the riding of Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park after the tragic death of Green candidate Josh Underhay and his son over the Easter weekend.

But What Does this Have to Do With Guelph?

The impact on Guelph may appear small because P.E.I. is about 1,700 kilometres away from us here in Ontario, but there still might still be some ramifications for the Royal City, and the rest of Canada.

The Provincial Election in P.E.I. was seen as a litmus test for how far the Greens could take the momentum they’ve built up with a few electoral victories, and then turn it into more substantive results. While the Greens did no tget the win they were clearly hoping for, being the Official Opposition is still historic.

The possibility also exists that they may still lead a government if a coalition can be formed.

As for Guelph, and Canada, the Green wave in P.E.I. could be taken as a demonstration that there is viability in voting Green. Indeed, Bevan-Baker and Hannah Bell, the two Green MLAs who blazed a trail in P.E.I., visited the Royal City in advance of last spring’s Ontario Provincial Election.

“We talk a lot about doing politics differently, and that has many, many layers to it, but perhaps the thread is the notion of less pretense with how we are in the world,” Bevan-Baker told Ontario Greens in Guelph last year.

Mike Schriener ended up taking the win in Guelph last June, but will that victory, plus P.E.I., and a potential by-election win in the Federal riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith, show other areas in Canada that the Greens are a serious threat to upset in this fall’s Federal Election? That remains to be seen.

Schriener, who is currently a caucus of one in the Ontario Legislature, released a statement on the P.E.I. vote congratulating his counterparts for electing the “biggest provincial Green caucus in Canada.”

“This upending of traditional politics shows how hungry voters are for a new way of doing politics. Greens are sparking hope in politics again with leaders who bring a fresh voice, honesty and positive solutions,” Schreiner said.

Steve Dyck, who was just nominated as Guelph’s Federal Green candidate earlier this month, also commented on the P.E.I. election, specifically on the electoral reform referendum that failed to get support to convert the province’s electoral system from First-Past-The-Post to Proportional Representation.

“The most important poll is at the ballot box,” said Dyck, who has long been a local advocate for electoral reform. “Having politicians listen to each other and work together in the interests of citizens is the best outcome for PEI,” he said.

“I am disappointed there was not a clear victory for Proportional Representation as First Past the Post misrepresents voters,” he added.

Image courtesy of Radio-Canada.

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