Newly minted Opposition leader Hal Perry says he expects to stay on as leader of the Opposition regardless of who is chosen as interim PC party leader Thursday.
Members of the Progressive Conservative executive and the five Tory MLAs will decide in a vote Thursday who will become interim leader of the PC party.
Perry and fellow MLA Steven Myers as well as former PC candidate Linda Clements are all vying for interim leadership, which is the party's top job.
But in an unexpected development Wednesday, Perry was also named the new Opposition leader.
Perry now says even if he is not chosen as interim party leader, he ‘absolutely’ expects to stay on Opposition leader.
“Traditionally they (interim leader and Opposition leader) have both been the same person, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be two people. It’s not something that’s unprecedented,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
“It might be a good thing. One doesn’t know until they actually try it. There’s two different perspectives coming and two different positions. Either way it’s a win-win.”
Wednesday marked the day Olive Crane officially resigned as leader of the PC party, which she announced in early December.
She caused controversy within the party when she indicated at that time she intended to remain as Opposition leader even after her resignation as party leader. But on Tuesday, Crane announced she was tired of constant backstabbing from the party’s backroom and that she was no longer interested in any leadership role within the party.
Then on Wednesday morning, during the weekly caucus meeting, Perry put his name forward to replace Crane as Opposition leader.
He would not give details about how his colleagues reacted to this, citing caucus confidentiality. He would only say he was chosen by a majority of his colleagues after a show-of-hands vote.
But with the election of interim party leader scheduled for just one day later, many have been left wondering why there was such urgency to name a new Opposition leader so quickly.
“It was decided that we would select an Opposition leader today, that we would have a vote on it, because we didn’t want to have any down time in between,” Perry explained Wednesday.
“It was decided that we would select an Opposition leader today, that we would have a vote on it, because we didn’t want to have any down time in between,” - Hal Perry, Tignish-Palmer Road MLA
“This is a position that represents all Islanders, not just our party, and we have an obligation to represent all Islanders and we don’t want to leave that vacant.”
But many in the party believe this move was one to position Perry, who is closely tied to Crane, as a frontrunner for the interim party leadership.
Perry said he does not believe this gives him an advantage over the other two candidates.
UPEI Dean of Arts and political scientist Don Desserud said the situation and how it has played out is bad for the party as a whole.
“The optics for the Conservative party are not good,” he said.
“It looks like they’re more interested in the internal fighting than they are in leading the province, and as a consequence they’re giving the government an advantage because they’re off-the-hook.”
Party president Blake Doyle is hopeful the PC party will move forward more united after Thursday’s vote for interim party leader.
“The two positions of interim party leader and Opposition leader are mutually exclusive,” he said.
“Regardless of the outcome, we look forward to the two elements of the Progressive Conservative party working together.”
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- The Tories are scheduled elect a new interim party leader Thursday.
- Opposition Leader Hal Perry, Georgetown-St. Peters MLA Steven Myers, and former PC candidate Linda Clements are running for the position
- The five Tory MLAs and the other 15 members of the PC provincial executive will vote for the interim leader, except party President Blake Doyle will only vote if there is a tie
- The Guardian will provide updates online throughout the day Thursday at www.theguardian.pe.ca on the events of this election as they unfold. Full details will be in Friday’s edition of The Guardian.