P.E.I. Tories will have to wait another week before they can hear directly from their two new leaders, thanks to Monday’s storm.
The Progressive Conservative party was scheduled to hold a provincial council meeting Monday in Charlottetown.
These meetings are open to all members of the party and are held to update the membership on party activities.
The party has an entirely new face now that Olive Crane officially resigned as party and Opposition leader last week. Now those roles are being filled by two people. Georgetown-St. Peters MLA Steven Myers was chosen by the party’s executive and caucus as interim leader and Tignish-Palmer Road MLA Hal Perry has the majority of the five Tory MLAs supporting him as Opposition leader.
Fireworks were expected at Monday’s meeting of the membership, as some within the party are questioning the legality of Perry holding onto his claim to the Opposition leader position. They maintain the party’s constitution and parliamentary practice say the leader of the party should also be the Opposition leader, as long as the leader is an elected member of the legislature.
The P.E.I. legislature does not have rules to cover this specific scenario, but usually defers to the rules of the House of Commons when such a situation arises.
The clerk of the legislature, Charles MacKay, provided The Guardian with a copy of the most up-to-date rules on this question in December. They state if the leader of the designated Opposition party holds a seat in the legislature, he or she automatically becomes Opposition leader. It did not specify any rules regarding interim party leaders.
At that time, Crane had indicated she planned to stay on as Opposition leader after resigning as party leader.
MacKay said in December if the speaker received no directive from the Tory caucus regarding its leader, Crane would have remained de facto Opposition leader.
But if the caucus as a whole did not agree with this, they could 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.
Sources within the PC party tell The Guardian this may be challenged by some within the party.
The PC provincial council meeting has been rescheduled for next Monday evening.