A group of P.E.I. Tories pushing for a review of Olive Crane’s leadership of the Progresive Conservative party is now using robocalls to get its message out.
PC members began getting telephone calls this week with a pre-recorded message from well-known party member Jason Lee. In the message, Lee outlines his group’s proposal that the party hold a leadership review in 2013, and encourages members to attend the upcoming AGM to vote on this proposal.
Lee says his group is also making personal calls to members, but using the so-called ‘robocalls’ helps to get the word out to more members.
“It’s important that the party members know about this (proposed) constitutional amendment,” he said.
“We’re trying to give the members information so that they can make an informed decision, and it has to come from somewhere.”
But some party members are expressing concern over the fact this group appears to have access to the contact information of large numbers of party members.
One member, who spoke to The Guardian on condition of anonymity, said he viewed it as a breach of confidentiality.
The same group began circulating an email last week asking for support for its motion to amend the party constitution to allow for a leadership review next year.
The constitution currently states such a review would not be held until after the next election should the Tories fail to form government.
Lee says he and members of his group are simply using telephone numbers and email addresses of their own personal contacts within the party.
“I don’t have a copy of the party’s most current membership list,” Lee said.
“I do have a lot of friends and contacts within the PC party and I’m not alone, there’s a number of people working to see that this resolution is openly debated… it’s not just my contacts or my friends, we’ve compiled information from many people’s contact lists.”
The party has been abuzz since this group began to mobilize its effort to push for a review of Crane’s leadership last week.
Crane has said she’s not worried and would accept a review if the motion to call one, proposed in a motion by Lee and Keith Boswall, passes at the upcoming AGM.
Tory caucus members Colin LaVie, Hal Perry and Steven Myers all said they stand 100 per cent behind Crane as their leader.
LaVie and Perry both expressed very similar sentiments that they believe she “does politics differently” and that she is the reason they decided to run for office.
And all three said they believe the question the next leadership review was decided during the party’s last annual meeting, when the new constitution was unanimously accepted.
“I believe that our membership was clear last time that we can’t get distracted by this,” Perry said.
“We won’t get anywhere if we continue to rehash old decisions. It’s my opinion this was dealt with at the last AGM.”
“I feel like this issue was dealt with at the last AGM and I support our leader and I support the direction that we’re going,” he said.
But James Aylward was more cautious in his response to questions about the calls for a leadership review.
He said he believes Crane “is doing a wonderful job,” but unlike his caucus colleagues, would not say how he plans to vote on Lee and Boswall’s motion.
“I would not be prepared to say that because I wouldn’t want to sway the vote one way or the other. I’m staying completely neutral,” Aylward said.
“If the majority requests it than yes I think (a review) should be held and if they don’t then that’s great too. It’s a democratic process.”
When asked if he supports Olive Crane as leader, Aylward responded, ”Whoever our leader is, I support our leader.”
The PC AGM is Nov. 3 in Charlottetown.