Speaker recognizes Hal Perry as Opposition leader

Teresa Wright
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Speaker Carolyn Bertram

The speaker of the P.E.I. legislature has officially recognized Hal Perry as Opposition leader.

Perry received a letter of recognition from Speaker Carolyn Bertram this week. It serves as official confirmation of his status as the leader of the official Opposition.

"It's always nice to have confirmation of what you believe is right," Perry said in an interview with The Guardian Wednesday.

There has been much confusion about leadership roles within the Progressive Conservative party over the last few weeks now that two MLAs within the Tory caucus hold key leadership roles.

Georgetown-St. Peters MLA Steven Myers was chosen by the party's executive and caucus as interim party leader while Tignish-Palmer Road MLA Hal Perry has the majority of the five Tory MLAs supporting him as Opposition leader.

It's an unprecedented situation for two elected members within the same caucus splitting these roles and this serves as a daily physical reminder of the PC party's deep divisions.

That's why some members of the party are questioning the legality of Perry's claim to the Opposition leader position.

Charlottetown lawyer Geoff Connolly says the party's constitution says the interim party leader has the same authority as a permanent leader, and since Myers has a seat in the legislature, should thus be the natural Opposition leader.

Choosing Opposition leader by a majority vote of caucus is questionable, Connolly said.

"I'm not aware of anything that would give (the caucus) the authority to choose the leader that way," he said.

"I've yet to hear anyone point to something that says this is their authority for doing this. So I'm at a bit of a loss as to how it's going to be valid."

Connolly pointed to the fact former leader Olive Crane announced her intention to resign as party leader almost two months in advance and later the party planned its executive meeting to vote on her replacement just two days after she left.

He and other party insiders have expressed dismay at the caucus meeting held on the one day in between Crane's resignation and the interim leader election during which Perry put his name forward for Opposition leader and won the title with the support of Crane and Souris-Elmira MLA Colin LaVie.

"Does that mean if, in a situation like this, if the Liberals didn't like the performance of Robert Ghiz, the caucus could organize a revolt and we'd have a new premier if they could get a majority of caucus?" Connolly said.

"I think that's unprecedented, you can't have a coup like that."

But Perry remains firm he is Opposition leader, especially now that he has the recognition of the speaker.

He questioned the motivation of those within the party who question his claim to the position.

"I'm not sure what their agenda is," Perry said.

"There will always be naysayers. It's unfortunate that we're losing focus on what good we can do and it's the negative that's being brought forward. Until that negative is controlled, they're giving the media something to write about."

Members are scheduled to gather for a provincial council meeting on Monday - a meeting that was postponed due to last Monday's snowstorm.

Heated debate is expected on the issue of the double leadership issue now facing the party.

Perry said he hopes to be able to discuss the concerns of the members at this meeting and "deal with these issues, once and for all."

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/PEIGuardian

 

Organizations: Tory, Crane's

Geographic location: P.E.I., Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • West Prince political observer.
    February 07, 2013 - 14:40

    The recognition of Hal Perry as leader of the opposition by the speaker should now put this matter to rest.Time for the backroom boys to back off.Let,s give these two gents the opportunity to prove themselves in their new jobs.I think it is great that one can be involved in legislative matters while the other can be busy with party matters.Amajor rebuilding job is needed,starting in the back room.

  • View from the west
    February 07, 2013 - 11:12

    Congrats to Hal Perry. Question is why are the backroom boys pushing for Myers?Could it be that he has agreed not to mention PNP?That seems to be an issue they want forgotten.Open the books on this issue and quite likely the backrooms in both parties will look much different!!!

  • Stan
    February 07, 2013 - 10:13

    So now the Liberals are assisting Olive and Hal launch their undemocratic coup? That's awfully opportunistic of them. Shows how pathetic the Liberals are to jump into bed with the fraudulent and temporary despot named Hal.

  • SG
    February 07, 2013 - 09:08

    Conservatives seem to be the topic of discussion at the Federal and Provincial level! At Both Levels they've lost my Vote and Respect. Islanders live in Canada not Britain. Who cares what happened in the British Parliament? We're Canadians. Do we not have our own Parliamentary Procedures and Rules yet?? Given the News Reports this week regarding the Conservative Party on both levels it doesn't appear we do. Maybe it's time for "Progressive" Change on both Levels. Imagine initiating an investigation re: EI Recipients! A Program that all Canadians have contributed to for decades and the majority have never used! Canadians who had/have to rely on EI didn't/don't receive enough to even provide nourishment for a week let alone their other living expenses! Astounding!

    • Captain Canuck
      February 07, 2013 - 16:36

      If the leader of the opposition was chosen by an electorate vote we'd be US citizens. The leader must be accepted by the party and should be put to a vote if there is any question within the party of whom would lead the opposition. Even the day after the (provincial in this case) election, if there is a question in the opposition party a "leader of the opposition" vote should be held. This puts me at odds with my ol' pal Geoff Connolly and he may be right based on written rules, precidence etc, but it is an American style to have the opposition leader constitutionally determined by the public election.

  • wrong
    February 07, 2013 - 08:50

    The leader of the opposition is the leader of the party with the most seats in the house that is not government. The oppositon party in the house is presently the Torys, and the leader of the Tory party presently is Steven Myers. Caucus should not choose a leader, the party should choose a leader, that is what a leadership review is all about! From Wikipedia -a leadership convention is held by a political party when the party needs to choose a leader due to a vacancy or a challenge to the incumbent leader.

    • Garth Staples
      February 07, 2013 - 10:53

      I agree the Party Ldr should be chosen by the party membership. The Interim leader was chosen by the Executive. A Permanent Leader is chosen by secret ballot by PARTY MEMBERSHIP at large.

  • Quiet Observer
    February 07, 2013 - 08:14

    I must agree with Carl. The longer this split within the Tory party continues, the better chance the Liberals have of getting re-elected next time. It is clear this is a political move by Bertram as the Legislature Act does not support her.

  • burpalot
    February 07, 2013 - 08:14

    What a lame hat.

  • clam
    February 07, 2013 - 08:13

    Mr Perry stick to your guns The only reason Mr Connolly wants Mr Myers is so the backroom boys can tell him what to do,just like they tried with Olive Crane.They found out they couldn't do it with her,so they got rid of her.Good luck Mr Perry

  • Carl
    February 07, 2013 - 07:53

    Libs are just messing with the Tories at this point. Hal, you are now a Liberal hack. Kudos.

    • Garth Staples
      February 07, 2013 - 13:51

      I 'did business' with the Perry family for many years. They were and ARE very honourable people. Hal is a person the Island needs to bring good govt vs the GHIZ LIBERAL chaos.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    February 07, 2013 - 07:46

    How is this news? Does the Guardian always run a story after the SPEAKER(another paid off flunkie) first speaks to a leader of the opposition? Just another shot across the bow of the tories from a liberal newspaper. The Liberals want to keep the consevative mess in the news. This is a very self serving story.

  • constitutional challenge from McKelvey
    February 07, 2013 - 07:44

    A firm that charges millions for services of all things legal, work never put to tender. Now a partner will be the referee/judge on party discipline, uninvited. Funny eh?

    • Captain Canuck
      February 07, 2013 - 16:21

      What makes Geoff Connolly a referee? Only you say that. He was interviewed by The Guardian and gave his reply on his view as he sees it. Garth Staples gave his opinion as he sees it, but since The Guardian didn't interview him that magically makes him not a referee where Connolly is? I have my opinion too. If The Guardian interviews me does that make me official? It is a reporting medium, not a wing of the Conservative Party. Far from it in fact...

  • Ron Chinery
    February 07, 2013 - 07:39

    I have to take some exception to Geoff Connolly's remark that you can't have an opposition leader or premier elected by a vote of the majority of caucus. While I am not an expert on legislative or parliamentary procedure, traditionally the role of leader was assumed by the person who had the confidence of the majority of the party members in the House. In fact, I believe that former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain lost her position as Prime Minister when she did not have the support of her party members. It is only relatively recently in history that party leaders are elected by popular vote of the party members or their representatives in the convention format. I would welcome some input from some more knowledgeable source, perhaps a history professor or constitution scholar.

  • Garth Staples
    February 07, 2013 - 06:35

    The Speaker is correct. As I keep telling people who will listen : Opposition Ldr is a function of the Assembly, NOT a party function. Same applies to leader of the Govt. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Does that mean if, in a situation like this, if the Liberals didn't like the performance of Robert Ghiz, the caucus could organize a revolt and we'd have a new premier if they could get a majority of caucus?" Connolly said. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The answer is YES. It has happened in the British Parliament many times.