Newcomers take on political veteran in Malpeque

Wayne Thibodeau
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Published on April 21, 2011


Published on April 20, 2011

Wayne Easter stands next to his red campaign truck outside of the Meadowvale Park community near Charlottetown on Tuesday. It's a battle of the campaign vehicles in Malpeque. Tim Ogilvie's truck is, of course, blue.

Published on April 20, 2011

Tim Ogilvie stands next to his blue campaign truck outside of Maggie's in Cornwall on Tuesday. It's a battle of the campaign vehicles in Malpeque. Wayne Easter's rig is, of course, red.

Published on April 20, 2011

Rita Jackson, second left, the NDP candidate in Malpeque, shares a political conversation and a cup of tea, with supporters from North Rustico including Sandy Brace, left, Freda Peters and Gloria Brace. Jackson says Stephen Harper's Canada is not her Canada.

Published on April 20, 2011

Peter Bevan-Baker, the Green Party candidate in Malpeque, chats with Lori McKenna of Crapaud before her dental appointment on Tuesday. Bevan-Baker is a Hampton, P.E.I. dentist. This will be the Green Party candidate's fifth federal campaign, three in Ontario and two on the Island.

John Mellish says he wasn’t trying to send a political message with a billboard he posted outside his used car lot in New Annan.

Mellish lives in the riding of Malpeque.

That riding has been represented by Liberal Wayne Easter for nearly 18 years.

The billboard, which usually has a cutting message for drivers who pass by the busy Route 2 location, reads: “Politicians and babies have to be changed often, sometimes for the same reason!”

“I’m just having a bit of fun,” said the owner of Mellish Motors. “I’m not trying to send a message to Mr. Easter and I hope he doesn’t take it that way.”

Malpeque is a diverse riding stretching from the Town of Kensington to the west through to the Town of Cornwall, a Charlottetown suburb, in the east. The riding includes most of rural Queens County, which means farming, fishing and tourism are among the driving forces in the riding.

The riding also includes the Island’s premier tourist destination, Cavendish beach.

Easter is hoping to be returned to the House of Commons after the May 2 federal election. He’s facing opposition from Conservative Tim Ogilvie and a Conservative Party determined to oust Easter from his post.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper held a rally in Malpeque April 1, and the Conservative Party has sent down big name help in an effort to unseat the outspoken and often controversial Liberal MP.

A political newcomer, Rita Jackson, is on the ballot for the NDP while Peter Bevan-Baker is taking a second shot at Easter for the Green Party.

In 2008, Easter defeated Conservative Mary Crane by 924 votes.

Earlier this week, Easter was campaigning in the community of Meadowvale Park, a trailer park near the Sleepy Hallow Correctional Centre in Charlottetown.

Easter’s campaign slogan doesn’t change. Emblazed on the side of his truck is “Hard work, straight talk,” a style which he admits gets him in trouble even with his own party every now and again.

“I really, really enjoy the door-to-door,” said Easter.

During this stop the issues are more varied than the fall colours over rural P.E.I.

One man expressed his concern over a used car he purchased at the Ford dealership and asked Easter if he could help. Another woman asked Easter to step in to help a Canadian national who is being held in an overseas detention centre.

There was a third household that expressed concern about the rising costs of everything from fuel to food.

That, Easter said, is the number one issue he’s hearing at the door.

“It affects every bit of society,” he said. “It especially impacts on seniors.”

During a stop at one of the main urban centers in Malpeque, the Town of Cornwall, Conservative Tim Ogilvie said he decided to enter public life to give something back to Prince Edward Island.  This is his first foray into politics.

Ogilvie, who lives in the small community of Springbook, near New London, spent 10 years as dean of the Atlantic Vet College.

His two boys, Thomas and Adam, are also vets.

Ogilvie believes he can bend the ear of Conservative Leader Stephen Harper should he get elected in a Conservative majority government.

“I do not hear a lot of negativity about Prime Minister Harper except perhaps for style,” said Ogilvie, who was sitting alone enjoying a cup of coffee at Maggie’s in Cornwall.

“We recognize together at the door that it is a matter of style and that he is a very capable person.”

Still, Ogilvie said when he’s one-on-one with Harper, the prime minister always asks him what’s happening in Malpeque and what he as the party leader should know about what is happening on the ground in Prince Edward Island.

“Could he be perhaps seen to be more forthcoming? Could he be seen to be perhaps less developed? I would agree.”

There is another political newcomer on the ballot in Malpeque.

The NDP’s Rita Jackson, a retired military woman who is originally from Kellys Cross, is a passionate defender of all things Canada.

Jackson, a 24-year military veteran, said it’s not her Canada when a veteran comes home after defending his country and then has to launch a fight with his country to get a wheelchair ramp built. She’s no fan of Stephen Harper.

NDP Leader Jack Layton and his policies is what attracted Jackson to the NDP party.

“I used to say when it comes to politics I’m an atheist because I didn’t believe in any of them,” said Jackson, who is an elected councillor in Victoria-by-the-Sea.

“But the more I learned, the more I realized that the only way you can actually do something is to get into politics.”

Believing he can make a difference by being on the ballot is also what attracted Peter Bevan-Baker, a Hampton dentist, to run for public office.

This will be Bevan-Baker’s eighth campaign for the Green Party. He ran five times federally (three in a riding south of Ottawa and twice in Malpeque) and three times provincially.

“My children, that’s what motivates me,” said Bevan-Baker, who was born in Scotland.

“I’ve been following the trends that are emerging globally. If you look at that, and project it into the future, you see very clearly that the lifestyle that we enjoy now and the planet that we live on today is not going to be around for very much longer.”

Admitting the likelihood of him getting elected is slim, Bevan-Baker said elections should be about much more than who comes first. He said it should be an exchange of ideas.

“Part of our stigma goes with our name, the Green Party. People go, ‘oh yea, you know about the environment and that’s it.’ That is the furthest thing from the truth.”

Back in Meadowvale Park, Easter said this election campaign is much different than in 2008.

“In the last one the Harper government was able to put us on the defensive,” said Easter, making reference to the Liberal’s Green Shift proposal that he now says was 20 years ahead of its time.

“This one, Harper’s record is now clear. We know what he wants to do.”

Organizations: Conservative Party, NDP, Mellish Motors House of Commons Sleepy Hallow Correctional Centre Ford New London Green Party

Geographic location: Malpeque, Cornwall, Meadowvale Park Kensington Charlottetown Queens Prince Edward Island Springbook Canada Victoria Hampton Ottawa Scotland

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Recent comments

  • Angus
    April 23, 2011 - 20:18

    So what's this about having to pay back $8,000 in expenses to the government Wayne Easter? You're always quick to condemn everyone with that nasal whine of yours - explain this?

  • Malpeque Voter fed up with Easter
    April 23, 2011 - 10:40

    Wayne Easter has never done anything for PEI. All he ever does is complain about the Wheat Board, which only impacts farmers in Western Canada. He's already admitted that he can't play in the same sandbox as the government so what's the point in sending a heckler to the House of Commons? May as well go with a government member who can bring back the bacon instead of a whiney opposition MP who can't deliver results. A vote for Wayne Easter is a vote against money coming in to PEI. If you want new opportunities, let's get on side with this majority government or else we'll be shut out for 4 or maybe even 8 years.

  • thaddeus Sholto
    April 23, 2011 - 09:48

    Gee Jill MacDonald, it sure is a good thing that your Glorious Leader Stephen Harper does not use negative advertising and never attacks his opponents. Oh Yes, he always tells the truth.

  • Concerned Islander
    April 23, 2011 - 09:42

    Wayne Easter has got to go. I was at a debate in the Malpeque riding (which I live in) and I was impressed with Tim Ogilvie's performance there. He was the clear winner, he didn't attack any of the other parties. All Wayne Easter talked about was how Harper did this and Harper did that, not once focusing on his own leader and what his own party would do if elected. And he had the gull to mention the Saskatchewan Wheat Board, which had nothing to do with the Malpeque riding. We need someone who cares about the interest of Islanders and not some other province. He accused the Conservatives attacking him with those ads (which really showed what kind of person Easter really is) and Easter would be the first one to use dirty tactics on the Conservatives to get himself elected again.

  • An unknown
    April 23, 2011 - 09:34

    That's because you are an unknown Rita. We should have a 2 party system in Canada.

  • Marie
    April 23, 2011 - 09:00

    I'd say Mr. Mellish is right on the mark with his billboard. Only an weak, unsure politician would be insulted by signage. That's probably why we always hear such an uproar. LOL

  • Gerry
    April 23, 2011 - 08:19

    Jill Macdonald, The only disgusting personal attacks I've seen is from The cons to Mr. Easter Prove me wrong

  • mra
    April 23, 2011 - 08:11

    the sign says it all.

  • Shelly
    April 23, 2011 - 07:10

    I think it is hilarious and I love his sign! I look forward to seeing what he has up there all the time!

  • Garth Staples
    April 23, 2011 - 06:05

    Another opportunity for the Gguardian to make a story for Easter. Terrible reporting. Terribly biased.

    • Island Farmer
      April 23, 2011 - 10:43

      The Guardian's love affair with that socialist Wayne Easter is ridiculous. The only thing Easter stands for is the Canadian Wheat Board which has nothing to do with PEI whatsoever. The Wheat Board is just a ridiculous undemocratic agency that hates freedom and won't let farmers sell their products in a free, open, fair marketplace. I don't know which is worse. That Easter hates democracy and loves the Wheat Board, or that Easter never says or does anything for PEI and spends 100% of his time focusing on Western Canada's issues. Throw the bum out while you have the chance.

    • Marg
      April 24, 2011 - 07:58

      Biased?? What do you think about your own comments They begin to wear!

  • Rita Jackson
    April 21, 2011 - 21:43

    Clarification, I was on the Village council.

    • wanda wood
      April 23, 2011 - 07:08

      Rita Jackson was a member of the Victoria Council and as a councillor she fought hard for transparency, accountability and equality. She was a hard-working and dedicated councillor who respected and listened to the residents.

    • ddeak
      April 23, 2011 - 09:35

      Good luck Rita. I am voting ABC...Anything But Conservative

  • Jill Macdonald
    April 21, 2011 - 17:15

    Easter is such a wimp...I am sure he will be crying about this as being negative. At the same time, he will be using classless, disgusting personal attacks against anyone who stands between him and what he thinks hes is entitled to.