Outgoing PC leader says she did not resign as leader of Opposition in legislature
© Guardian photo
Outgoing PC Leader Olive Crane is flanked by fellow Progressive Conservative MLAs, James Aylward, left, and Hal Perry during the news conference announcing her resignation as PC leader.
PC Leader Olive Crane plans to stay on as leader of the Opposition even after she steps down as party leader.
Crane told The Guardian Thursday she was clear when she announced her resignation the day before she would be leaving the PC party leadership to someone else after Jan. 30.
She did not, however, resign as Opposition leader.
“If I stepped aside, then it opens it up again, but right now I’ve not stepped aside from leader of the Opposition,” she said in an interview.
When asked whether she plans to continue as Opposition leader after Jan. 30, she replied she expects to do so.
“We will have a conversation with our caucus and our party, but most likely,” Crane said.
The P.E.I. legislature does not have rules to cover this specific scenario, but always defers to the rules of the House of Commons when such a situation arises.
Clerk of the legislature Charles MacKay provided The Guardian with a copy of the most up-to-date rules on this question.
They state if the leader of the designated Opposition party holds a seat in the legislature, he or she automatically becomes Opposition leader.
But if the party leader is not an elected MLA, the Opposition caucus may designate another of its elected members to act as Opposition leader.
MacKay says that means if, after Jan. 30, the Speaker receives no directive from the current Tory caucus regarding its leader, Crane will remain de facto Opposition leader.
But if the caucus as a whole does not agree with this, they can write to the Speaker and indicate who, among their elected members, their choice for Opposition leader would be.
That person would then become Opposition leader.
Opposition house leader Steven Myers said he has not personally been briefed on these rules, but he expects to have discussions with his fellow caucus members and the Speaker’s office to clarify how they will move forward.
But he hinted Crane might be correct in her belief she will likely stay on as Opposition leader.
“I don’t think there’s any great rush to make any drastic changes at this point,” he said.
Crane added she has not yet had a chance to discuss the topic in depth with her fellow elected Opposition MLAs, but plans to do so over the coming days and weeks.
In the meantime, she doesn’t plan on stepping aside as Opposition leader any time soon.
“I don’t plan to at this time, but having said that, I always want to ensure we have good discussion around our caucus table.”