© Guardian photo
Education Minister Alan McIsaac
He's not looking for widespread electoral reform, but Education Minister Alan McIsaac says he would like to see party leaders in the legislative assembly.
In an interview with The Guardian, McIsaac said he wants Islanders to consider changes to the way they elect their leaders.
"I think it's very important that we have come forward the very best leaders possible no matter what the party may be," he said.
Under P.E.I.'s first-past-the-post system the only people who sit in the legislative assembly are those who win their seat by getting the most votes in their riding.
But what McIsaac is suggesting is to have the leader of any party get a seat inside the legislative assembly, as long as their party gets enough support during an election.
It would be a dedicated seat meant only for the leader who would represent the entire province on behalf of their party, instead of holding a seat for a specific riding.
McIsaac said the way the system works now leaders who aren't elected have to sit outside the rail and aren't involved in proceedings inside the house.
"I think the way we do that at this time kind of discourages some of the best people from coming forward," he said.
Parties are able to choose leaders who aren't elected members and if that happens, the new leader is left outside the legislative assembly.
Premier Robert Ghiz faced that scenario when he took over the Liberals before a general election and both the Green party and NDP are in the same situation.
But those leaders aren't paid, which mean finances can be a consideration when running for a party leadership.
Unelected party leaders also don't get to take part in any proceedings within the legislative assembly, such as votes on legislation.
What McIsaac proposes is for the province to make a change during the next electoral boundaries review and to reduce the number of ridings to allow for the leader seats.
With fewer seats for MLAs, the leader of any party that received 10 per cent of the popular vote during an election would get a seat in the legislature under the proposed system, he said.
After the last election, that model wouldn't have landed any of the third party leaders in the legislature, since the Greens finished third with 4.4 per cent of the popular vote, but future votes could be very different.
The NDP, for example, have seen their polling numbers steadily increasing, putting them above the 10 per cent threshold for voter intentions in every poll since February 2012, including a 22 per cent peak in November.
McIsaac said he has been talking about possible the changes for a while, but doesn't know how much traction it has.
"I have no idea," he said.