© Guardian file photo by Mitch MacDonald
Former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien relaxes during a 2012 trip to Prince Edward Island
Key players from within both Prince Edward Island’s two major provincial political parties have been holding meetings for the last few weeks in Charlottetown.
No, there will not be any floor-crossings or coalitions.
The meetings have been to plan a big dinner in October in the new convention centre as a fundraiser for the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships — a dinner that will feature current and former politicians from different political stripes.
Former prime minister Jean Chretien, who is heading up the Canadian division of the scholarship trust, will be the guest speaker. He will be introduced by former P.E.I. Premier Pat Binns.
In an interview with The Guardian, Binns, who is now the Consul General of Canada to Boston, said the dinner will be an interesting and entertaining way to raise money for a good cause.
“The money we raise will go towards scholarships for Island students,” Binns said.
“The objective really is that they gain knowledge and experience and make linkages that will help them participate in the global world, the commonwealth, but with the hope of making contributions back to the local community, to the Island community in our case. So the students will be looked at in terms of their ability to bring that global experience back to the community.”
Norman Clarey, who is part of a committee made up of key players within both the Liberal and Progressive Conservative parties in P.E.I. planning the event, is very excited.
He says he believes this is the first time in history the two parties have worked together on a joint initiative.
“I think the fact we have to two major political parties in P.E.I. working in concert, key players in both parties who put their swords down, so to speak, for this effort to make it a successful night and just show off our province, will make it a great evening,” Clarey said.
The event will also feature P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz, Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea and Lt.-Gov. Frank Lewis. Tickets to the dinner are $200 per person.
Binns said the goal is to raise 30 cents per capita, which represents about $40,000 for Prince Edward Island.
The federal government will match any contributions generated from this and other similar events across the country for the jubilee scholarships.
Money raised in P.E.I. will be earmarked for Island students. The Association of Universities and Colleges will administer the scholarships.
“P.E.I. has always had a relationship with the monarchy, over the years we’ve welcomed queens and princes and princesses… this gives us an opportunity to be part of a commonwealth exercise but do it at the local level,” Binns said.
“We don’t expect any sparring, but I’m sure both parties will be wanting to show their past star candidates in the best light. I think they’ll have some fun,” Clarey said.