After a brief provincial election campaign devoid of drama, voters on Prince Edward Island appear poised to stir things up and make some history when they cast their ballots Tuesday.
The Island’s Green party, led by Scottish-born dentist Peter Bevan-Baker, has recorded upward momentum in the polls for more than a year, suggesting the smallest province may be ready to elect Canada’s first Green government.
“It has not been a particularly fascinating campaign, but I think it’s going to be a fascinating election night,” says Don Desserud, a political science professor at the University of Prince Edward Island.
“There’s something going on here. You can’t deny that after a whole year of solid numbers for the Green party that they’ve attracted attention and are being regarded with great favour.”
A Narrative Research poll for the Charlottetown Guardian released this week suggests the Greens had maintained a lead, but it was within the margin of error and the Tories and Liberals were not far behind.
The close numbers also raised the spectre of a minority government, which would itself mark a historic moment for the Island: The last time a minority was elected in P.E.I. was 1890.
Islanders have been electing either Liberal or Conservative governments since Confederation. And a clear pattern has held since the mid-1960s, with majority governments being regularly replaced after serving three terms — though the Liberals eked out a fourth term in 1978, only to lose power a year later.
Premier Wade MacLauchlan’s Liberals will be seeking a fourth term on April 23, which has prompted some critics to suggest the party has overstayed its welcome.
Though the province’s economy is among the strongest in the country, voters have been reluctant to attribute any of that success to MacLauchlan.
Donald Savoie, the Canada research chair in public administration at the Universite de Moncton, says he’s bewildered by the lack of credit given to the Liberals.
“It is difficult to imagine how the MacLauchlan government could have produced a better report card on the economy before going to the polls,” Savoie wrote in a recent editorial, noting the numbers look great for wages, employment, immigration, housing starts, exports, retail sales and tourism.
“And yet public opinion surveys reveal that the MacLauchlan government is confronting a serious political challenge. This suggests that there are forces at play in the Maritime provinces that are playing havoc with the region’s political landscape.”
So what is it about the Greens that has moved the Island’s traditionally small-c conservative voters to consider a more progressive party?
Bevan-Baker says the shifting political sentiments on P.E.I. are a reflection of a broader movement away from traditional, mainstream politics. He’s called it the local expression of a global phenomenon.
“People are looking for something that doesn’t sound or smell or taste like a conventional politician,” he said in an interview late last year.
Bevan-Baker became the first member of the Green party to win a seat in the P.E.I. legislature in 2015, having failed to win a single election after 10 attempts on the Island and in Ontario.
As party leader, he has spent the past three years carefully crafting the party’s brand by consistently challenging the notion that the Greens are a single-issue entity devoted only to environmental activism.
During the election campaign, Bevan-Baker made a point of broadening the party’s public appeal by focusing on social issues.
When the party released its entire $30-million platform at the beginning of the campaign, the largest chunk of that planned spending — $10-million — was earmarked for increasing social assistance rates. Increasing the inventory of affordable housing was also a top priority.
“They’re really broadened out their platform to talk about socially progressive issues,” says Desserud. “It’s a rebranding of the party that has been extremely successful.”
The party has been talking about environmental issues, “but they have not foregrounded them,” the professor said.
And when it comes to climate change and carbon taxes, Bevan-Baker has been careful to link a healthy environment with a prosperous economy.
As for the Progressive Conservatives, the party may have deep roots on the island, but it has been plagued by infighting. In the past eight years, the party has had no fewer than six leaders, including Dennis King, who was elected in February.
The party enjoyed a boost in the polls in March, when it was in a virtual dead heat with the Liberals and this week’s Narrative poll suggests they have continued momentum.
As for the Island’s New Democrats, led by Joe Byrne, their poll numbers have remained at single digits for the past year.
On Tuesday, voters will also learn the results from a binding referendum on electoral reform, which will determine if Islanders want to keep the first-past-the-post system or change to a mixed-member-proportional-representation model.
In a 2016 plebiscite, 52 per cent voted in favour of switching to a mixed-member system, but MacLauchlan rejected the results, saying the 36 per cent turnout rate was too low.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to abolish the first-past-the-post system federally during the 2015 election, but he later abandoned that pledge, saying Canadians were not eager for change. Voters in British Columbia rejected making such a change in December 2017.
Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press
Video attacking Canada’s response to COVID created by Conservative leadership hopeful is going viral
This video was posted by MP Erin O’Toole.
The RCAF veteran, and former Minister of Veterans Affairs is running to replace Andrew Scheer and hoping to become Canada’s next Prime Minister.
The video is a scathing review of Canada’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. It has already been viewed well over half a million times.
From the Facebook page of Erin 0’Toole
➡️ The Chinese regime, the WHO and the Trudeau government DO NOT want people to see this.Let's make sure Canadians see the truth! 👍🇨🇦
Posted by Erin O'Toole on Thursday, May 21, 2020
Captain Jennifer Casey killed in Snowbirds accident
From: National Defence
One Canadian military member killed and one injured in CF Snowbirds accident
Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
One member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) was killed on Sunday May 17, 2020 and one other member injured in an accident involving a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CT-114 Tutor aircraft in the vicinity of Kamloops, British Columbia.
Killed was Captain Jennifer Casey, the team’s Public Affairs Officer, originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Captain Richard MacDougall, one of the team’s coordinators and pilot of the aircraft, was injured and is being treated for his injuries.
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds were deployed on Operation INSPIRATION, a cross-Canada tour to lift the spirits of Canadians and salute front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of the accident, the CF Snowbirds were taking off from the airport in Kamloops, British Columbia.
The CAF are providing our members and their families with as much support as possible to help them through this difficult time.
A RCAF Flight Safety team will depart from Ottawa shortly to investigate the circumstances of the accident and will begin their work immediately upon arrival.
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of one of our Canadian Armed Forces members in a tragic incident involving one of our Snowbirds’ aircraft in Kamloops, British Columbia. I am sending my sincerest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Captain Jenn Casey. I am also wishing a rapid and complete recovery for Captain Richard MacDougall.
Canadians look at the Snowbirds as a source of joy and an exhibition of the incredible feats that our people in uniform are capable of. Operation INSPIRATION was intended to lift the spirit of Canadians at this difficult time and the Snowbirds accomplished their mission. I know that all Canadians grieve this tragic loss.”
The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.
“Another tragedy has hit our Canadian Armed Forces. The Snowbirds’ Op INSPIRATION brought joy to Canadians across our country. Today, we come together in their time of need. To the family of Captain Jenn Casey we send our condolences, know that she was an inspiration to many and she will be missed. To Captain Richard MacDougall, we wish you a speedy recovery.”
General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff
“The whole Defence Team family is deeply saddened by the loss of Captain Jenn Casey. Deepest condolences to her loved ones, and to her colleagues in the Snowbirds, the RCAF and her fellow Public Affairs Officers. We also wish Captain Richard MacDougall a steady recovery through these most difficult of times.”
Jody Thomas, Deputy Minister of National Defence
“Today, the RCAF has suffered another tragic loss of a dedicated member of the RCAF team. We grieve alongside Jenn’s family, friends and colleagues and are deeply saddened. Our thoughts also go out to the loved ones of Captain Richard MacDougall. We hope for a swift recovery from his injuries.”
Lieutenant General Al Meinzinger, Commander Royal Canadian Air Force
- The CT-114 Tutor fleet has been placed on an operational pause and Op INSPIRATION has been delayed indefinitely.
- Captain Jenn Casey is from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She joined the Canadian Armed Forces in August 2014 as a direct entry officer. Captain Casey joined the Canadian Forces Snowbirds in November 2018.
- A Flight Safety Investigation will be conducted to ensure our personnel can continue to have confidence in our equipment and procedures. One of the aims of the Flight Safety program is to investigate such occurrences with the objective of quickly identifying effective preventive measures that will either prevent or reduce the risk of similar occurrences in the future.
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