Island Party elects new leader

Ryan Ross
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New Island Party leader Billy Cann, here with a copy of the party's platform, is looking to build support after he was chosen to lead the party into the October election.

P.E.I. has its fifth political party leader after the Island Party picked its new leader Monday morning.

Former Montague-Kilmuir Liberal candidate Billy Cann will lead P.E.I.’s newest party into the next election, filling a void left by interim leader Jay Gallant who stepped down in September.

Cann is now tasked with building a party that has been polling at zero per cent with a fall election drawing closer and the reigning Liberals showing a strong lead over the other parties.

While he will be changing political stripes after running as a Liberal in the 2007 election, Cann said he is disappointed in what the Premier Robert Ghiz government has done since it came into power.

“For me when I ran for the Liberals I expected more from them and I’m not seeing that since the election,” he said.

When the Island Party formed last year it needed a leader in order to register as an official party, but Gallant never intended to stay on long-term and stepped down in September.

Cann, who lives in Gaspereaux, has run his own construction business on and off for 20 years and ran as a Liberal in the last election against Montague-Kilmuir MLA Jim Bagnall.

He lost by 134 votes.

Party spokesman Paul Smitz said the party’s core members chose Cann by acclamation, although both men agreed it was not the ideal way to pick a leader.

“It would have been nice to have an open thing, but time is so short and Billy is a good candidate, a known candidate,” he said.

Cann said with close to six months left before the election the party had to do something about its vacant leadership.

“That spearheaded the decision more than anything,” he said.

As of Monday the Island Party had eight people who have committed to run, but the party hopes to have a full slate on election day, he said.

“Hopefully the fact that we have a leader now will help in having people come onside.”

Cann said the Island Party is mainly a grassroots rural party with regionalization as one of the big issues for in the upcoming election and he wants to know what Ghiz’s plans are for regionalization in P.E.I.

“They haven’t answered that. They’ve kind of avoided the question,” he said.

Health care and education have dominated political discussions in the past and while they are important issues, they have taken away from working to strengthen P.E.I.’s economy, Cann said.

“Health care and education are very important. They are probably the most important things is your health, but if you don’t have a strong economy you can’t pay for all those things that are necessary to have good health in the province.”

The Island Party will also focus on energy concerns and open up the government to make information more accessible to the public.

Cann said the Island Party has people out recruiting to increase its membership but the party won’t have as much money to spend on a campaign as the Liberals or Conservatives which means it will rely more on social media and the Internet to try and win over voters.

“Hopefully people will jump on side and show their support,” he said.

With about 45 per cent of voters undecided in the latest poll, Cann said there is the potential for the Island Party to gain support from those undecided voters.

“The next poll if we get eight to 10 per cent we’re on our way.”

Organizations: Island Party, Conservatives

Geographic location: September.Cann, Gaspereaux

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Recent comments

  • scott
    March 16, 2011 - 14:23

    Garth.... your around long enough to k now the vast majority of undecieded voters go with the incumbant..... Really you should know that... it bit you on the behind when you ran and lost.

  • blueeyes
    March 15, 2011 - 19:18

    im going blue this time because the liberals are too sneaky ( pnp scandel that filled the liberal supporters pockets ) ( sold the government garage in sumerside and signed a 5 year contract that they cant back out of to the ministers brother in law which should be an automatic conflict of interest) (closed all the small schools to save money but they waste more money on foolish @#$% ) ive weighed the pros and cons and the tories it is!!!!!!!!!!!!! this new bunch need to establish a name before they get my important vote so maybe next time

  • Well wishers
    March 15, 2011 - 15:31

    Lots of people are wishing this guy and his party well. Me too. We aren't exactly drunk on democracy on the Island. However, has the new leader got the common sense to look at the party's stylish logo and realize that he will always be promoting the "I P Party." Can he do that without snickering? Maybe he can now count to zero.

  • The Future
    March 15, 2011 - 13:53

    Congratulations to Mr. Cann. Finally a chance for disenfranchised Islanders to have a voice. Example: appointed health boards, school boards, and patronage boards (IRAC). This may be the first chance for a new official opposition party?

  • Charlottetown Voter
    March 15, 2011 - 11:01

    The best way to get rid of Robert Ghiz and a lot of old bad political habits on PEIis to vote PC in October. Ghiz shows the worst of Binns, all of the tricks and scams and none of the plusses and strengths. He can't negotiate anything worthwhile. Both the new PNP ( a million bucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and the Energy Accord are ripoffs designed for people who already have plenty of wealth. There are no new jobs on PEI and the recession is long over. PEI's recession is just starting now.PEI is not recovering the way it needs to. There is no spare cash in the economy right now.Ghiz has spent us into a corner. Our debt is now huge and our costs of borrowing will go up in the next year for sure.I respect the Island Party and what they are trying to do. But the top priority is getting rid of Ghiz and his guys that run everything for themselves and their buddies ( Dow, Macmillan, etc.) . This is the same old crap we have always seen and probably a lot worse. Olive Crane is making serious grass roots progress despite what manipulated polls try to tell us. Half of the Island has no idea right now how they will vote in October. Great candidates are being attracted to the PC fold. Brain Ramsay, founder of Money Concepts, just threw his hat in the ring for the Conservatives to run against George Webster. He can make things happen, the kind of things in public finance we need to make happen on PEI like never before. Olive Crane is trustworthy and hard working. Ghiz is neither. If you know this to be true then vote Conservative in October. Supporting the smaller parties will just let Ghiz win. He does not deserve a second term. I am not a partisan and do not put my name on posts because I have relatives depending on the system right now. They are often urged to vote Liberal by operatives holding the continuation of their low paying jobs out as a threat.I voted for Binns twice and against him twice. I voted for Ghiz in 2007 and will vote against him in October 2011.

  • Trevor John
    March 15, 2011 - 09:57

    There is something a bit sad about Canada's smallest province (population about 140,000) having FOUR political parties. It is sadder still that the fourth was born of former Liberals who did not agree with the governing Liberal's supposed opposition to quaint pervasive patronage politics.

  • Head Shaker
    March 15, 2011 - 09:44

    Having a choice is a good thing. However. Joining a politicial party for all the wrong reasons is the least of our problem. When you see a candidate such as this....dashing across 'the proverbial political floor' to jump on another party bandwagon smacks of 'sour grapes'. I certainly hope Mr. Cann is there for 'the people'....and not to satisify some other personal agenda.

  • nitpicker
    March 15, 2011 - 09:39

    Good luck to him. That took some guts to leave an established party to head up this one. I believe that the Island, and in fact, politics in general, is desperate for options beyond what the PC and Liberals offer these days. But whether or not the 'Island Party' is the answer is a long stretch for me. Cann needs to inject some credibility into this party now. If he can't, then it needs to go away and stop wasting our time.

  • Ex Liberal
    March 15, 2011 - 09:26

    I'm not sure about Olive Crane, but am sure about Robert Ghiz. I'm voting conservative next election.

  • M Butler
    March 15, 2011 - 09:25

    Great....another person and party to vote for at the next election. It sure is nice to have so many choices to choose from. PC's, NDP's, Greens and Island Party. The Liberals have made a complete mockery of government with their mis-spending of Island tax dollars.....its time for a real change. The Liberals haven't done anything except steal money, create big scandals and shown lots of corruption. Nobody wants that kind of mess running out great province. We need a more responsible and accountable party to run this province. A party that won't lie to your face and to the media EVERYDAY to cover up their foolish mistakes.

  • Bill from the East
    March 15, 2011 - 08:07

    We sure need something new with the way prices are rising on anything associated with IRAC . Who is the excape goat for the Gov. (Arms length - BS ) Commit to reducing the Gov to half the the seats & get rid of IRAC that would be a good start for a new party in PEI . I'm sure a lot of people agree on this .

  • A Voter
    March 15, 2011 - 07:59

    I would love to support this new party. However, any party with Larry McGuire at the forefront is a party has lost all credibility in the eyes of the average informed resident of this province. I have rarely voted conservative in my lifetime, but in the upcoming election I will be supporting Olive Crane and the Tories.

    • agreed
      March 15, 2011 - 10:21

      Island Party is pro-patronage and anti-accountability. They would spend us even further into the ground than Liberals or Tories because all they are is a bunch of bitter Liberal & Tory snow plow drivers who got overlooked in the last elections.

    • Move On
      March 15, 2011 - 14:17

      The "average informed resident of this province" is concerned about: - the standard of education in our schools (example: no Science Fair in Morell Consolidated for ? years) - health care waiting times and accessability of ER - balanced budget - and accountability. Larry is not the issue. He is only a small part of a team of concerned citizens.

  • Jay Leno
    March 15, 2011 - 06:23

    Holy Tonight's Jay Leno's twin!!

  • Garth Staples
    March 15, 2011 - 06:13

    Nice to see Mr Cann has the smarts to recogrnize that 45% of potential Island voters are undecided who to vote for in the next election. As stated this huge number must be disquieting to the Ghiz Govt and an opportuniy for the Conservatives. See---I said the Ghiz Govt not the Govt of PEI.

  • TrueGrit
    March 15, 2011 - 02:29

    I can`t believe this guy has left the Liberal Party for one that will just be a footnote after the next election. Montague-Kilmuir will go Liberal in the next election, just as most other seats will.