Back in 2015, Peter Bevan-Baker was the first Green ever elected in PEI. It was only the second time any third party had ever won a seat in PEI.
Then, in a 2017 by-election, Hannah Bell won a second Green seat.
I’m not a big believer in Opinion Polls in politics. Parties used to do them as research, to get a feel for how voters felt, and to get an idea which way they might vote (and what they could change to get voters to vote for their party). Largely because I think they’re misused. But it’s a good bet the only Opinion Polls we see today are only the ones whoever paid for them wants us to see. They are used as advertising. Propaganda to convince us how to vote. And in these days of decimated news rooms, main stream media outlets have taken to writing entire articles about Opinion Poll results: they’re treated as news by the main stream media.
The only Opinion Poll that counts is the one on Election Day. Even so, for the last year or so, the third party Greens have been consistently polling ahead of PEI’s Liberal Government. That’s not a single Opinion Poll, it’s a trend— and in a traditionally 2 party province. Clearly such a trend is a strong indication that voters are looking for change.
This trend made people start thinking and talking about the unthinkable… what if the upstart Greens, going into the election with only 2 MLAs — were to come out the other side with enough support to form government? Pretty wild idea, right?
Last night, PEI Greens MLA’s Peter Bevan-Baker and Hannah Bell were both re-elected to the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island. That was the first time any third party MLA had ever been re-elected in PEI.
It was also the first time a third party became a second party in PEI. The Greens are likely to form the Official Opposition (at minimum).
Although the Greens didn’t win enough seats (14) to claim a majority, they did win 8 seats. Clearly a Green record for Canada.
A clear majority— five of the eight elected Greens— are women. I understand no PEI party has ever managed anything like this before.
Added to the single female PC candidate, that makes six: a record number women sitting MLAs in PEI. Another First.
The ruling Liberals dropped to third place. The PEI Progressive Conservative Party had gone through 5 leaders in 5 years, but 2 months before this election, they chose a new leader. Under Dennis King’s leadership, the PC’s won 12 seats, two shy of a majority, but certainly enough for a minority government if he can get the Confidence of the House. The CBC commentators talked about how Mr King’s leadership style had contributed to the civility of the election. Listening to his own post election speech, peppered with words like collaboration and sustainability, he seems to be an old style PC, and it sounds as though the reimagined PC party will actually be both progressive and conservative under his leadership.
But its early days; we will need to see how it unfolds.
Under Westminster rules, Liberal Premier Wade MacLauchlan will be given an opportunity to win the confidence of the house. This seems unlikely as the outgoing Premier was unable to retain his own seat, and his party is down to 6 MLAs.
More likely possibilities are that Dennis King’s PCs could form an actual minority government on their own. Or his PCs could forge a Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Greens. Or the Liberals to ensure electoral stability for the next 4 years. Or the PCs could join with another party to form a ruling coalition.
Just as the Greens and Liberals could form a majority ruling coalition. My best guess is the PEI Greens won’t join a coalition with anyone; they’ve worked too hard to build a viable third party to turn PEI back into a 2 party province.
Is it really a Green wave sweeping the country? It sure looks like it. But if we had some form of Proportional Representation, there would be many more Green MPs in Parliament. Nearly a million voters voted Green federally in 2008. And not a single Green was elected that year. The GPC hasn’t earned that many votes since. That doesn’t mean those Green voter stopped being Green, they just stopped voting Green because voting Green wasn’t effective. So maybe it isn’t a “Green Wave” … maybe it’s just a case of the people who want to vote Green actually voting Green. Because they believe in the policy that’s been formed out of Green values. And they believe in the candidates who would best represent them.
However it plays out, it will be interesting. Go Greens!
More Reading: Tragedy and politics on Prince Edward Island