Monday, March 20, 2006


Caught between indifference and irrelevance

Welcome to the life as an Island New Democrat. The political landscape in Prince Edward Island clearly has room for two parties - the Liberals and Conservatives. Yes, there is actually an area of the country where the New Democratic brand is worth less than in Alberta.

Prince Edward Islanders have been turning their backs on the "Orange" for as long as there have been potatoes in their ground. The situation is so bad that the party doesn't have a functioning website. The party has no elected members in the Provincial Legislature. In fact, they have only elected 1 member in the entire history of the party. Congratulations to Dr. Herb Dickieson, you just became a trivia question.

The party has no leader - due to the tragic death of Gary Robichaud. Their interim leader is also the President of the party. Now, the NDP candidate - J'Nan Brown - in last night's by-election scored a whopping 35 votes or 1.5% of the popular vote. She even got a goose egg in Poll 5 - yikes.

FYI - Pat Binns' Tories won the by-election held to replace one of the provincial government's senior cabinet ministers. With all 10 polls reporting Monday evening in the riding of Morell-Fortune Bay, PC Olive Crane had 1,233 votes, compared to 1,050 for her Liberal opponent, John Cameron.

Provincial politics on PEI is kinda like municipal politics everywhere else. MLAs of the party in power are more likely to have fresh pavement leading to their house than opposition MLAs, so to speak.

Upon meeting an unfamiliar constituent, most successful PEI politicians, with a few questions, would be able make a family connection... ie: So you are X's grandson? How's old X doing? I saw him at the Legion a few weeks ago...

The two major parties are deeply entrenched and that isn't changing.

The NDP, right or wrong, has a reputation of being the party of those who can't or won't fit within the mainstream parties. Herb was exceptional in a number of ways. For instance, he wasn't born & raised in the riding where he was elected. Perhaps that's why he succeeded?

If my description of PEI politics sounds parochial, there's a reason.
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