Alan McIsaac wins seat in P.E.I. legislature by coin toss

Teresa Wright
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Alan McIsaac

Alan McIsaac has been confirmed the MLA for Vernon River-Stratford in P.E.I. by a coin toss.

A judicial recount Tuesday of the ballots cast in the District 5 riding found an additional ballot for Progressive Conservative candidate Mary Ellen McInnis that had been mistakenly counted as a vote for McIsaac on election day, May 4.

McIsaac, the Liberal incumbent for the riding, was declared winner of the seat on election night with just two more votes than McInnis.

The additional ballot for her discovered in Tuesday’s recount put them in a tie.

They each had 1,173 votes.

According to the P.E.I. Elections Act, if a tie exists between two candidates after a judicial recount, the winner is chosen by a coin toss.

A special centennial coin was on hand, just in case.

Chief Electoral Officer Gary MacLeod says he developed guidelines for how the coin toss would work in the event this would be the deciding factor.

The candidate whose name is closest to the beginning of the alphabet was assigned ‘heads,’ the candidate with name closest to the end of the alphabet was given tails.

In the end, it was tails that won.

McIsaac was trembling as he emerged from the room where the recount was held, moments after the decision was rendered Tuesday.

“I put it in the lord’s hands and, you know, I guess he’s asking me to continue,” McIssac said.

“You know what this tells me? Every, every vote counts. And I hope everybody realizes that.”

McInnis walked out of the recount room quietly but with a gracious smile.

She says she is disappointed, but accepts the result as it followed the provisions in the Elections Act.

But she did say McIsaac’s win from the very narrowest possible margin shows he will not have an easy ride over the next four years.

“I’m very pleased with what I was able to do. Mr. McIsaac was a double cabinet minister and with my campaign team and the hard work that we’ve done since February, we’ve certainly proven that he hasn’t got this seat by any extra margin at all,” she said.

“He’s certainly going to have to work hard to keep the people in the constituency happy.”

It will now be up to Premier Wade MacLauchlan to decide whether McIsaac will be back in cabinet.

He served as Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development since 2011 and in February of this year was given the additional portfolio of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

MacLauchlan’s new cabinet will be sworn-in at Government House on Wednesday morning.

Geographic location: P.E.I., Vernon River

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Recent comments

  • Shawn
    May 21, 2015 - 18:07

    What is your opinion on the coin toss for the tie between the liberal MLA and the PC candidate? My opinion is that in this day in age, 2015, It's extremely undemocratic and unfair also going to mention it seems like a big joke. I believe their should be a re-election in that specific riding.

  • Fed up
    May 21, 2015 - 14:47

    By all means...picture the reaction if McIsaac had lost to a coin toss...especially since Wade had him picked for a Cabinet Minister....Wow! I'll bet the higher courts would be brought in AND paid for by US?

  • amanning
    May 20, 2015 - 20:29

    Split the darned district in two. Then it would be fair. It is big enough to merit two seats. Of course it could be done. It has just as much merit as saying a coin toss is the answer. Both candidates pulled in the same amount of votes. Time to be fair and PEI would actually be known for fair election.

    • Cromwell
      May 21, 2015 - 06:44

      So you are advocating adding to an already bloated Provincial government (27 seats representing a total of 94,000 eligible voters), simply because a more equitable tie-breaking system can't be found and implemented (has anyone checked what the other Provinces have in place?) Yup - sounds like the right thing to do.

    • Shawn
      May 21, 2015 - 18:08

      I honestly believe another election needs to be called in the riding.

  • Cromwell
    May 20, 2015 - 20:12

    I am trying to picture the reaction if McIsaac had lost the coin toss, and/or if this seat had been pivotal in determining which party held the majority . I would imagine that there would be increased activity towards finding a more 'equitable' means of breaking a tie, with resulting changes to the Election Act

  • Bill Meeker
    May 20, 2015 - 16:17

    If people like garth Staples, Wait for it, Dinky Dalton and a host of others did a bit of research instead of stupid troll comments they would have learned that a coin toss, drawing a name from a hat, a game of cards, Scrabble tiles are all used to break election ties all over the world. In fact, most U.S. states flip a coin to break a tie in the senate. Why go to the expense of a by-election when an unbiased coin toss can decide the winner? I bet if Mary Ellen MacInnis had won the toss, Garth Staples would not be mocking the result or procedure.

  • Wait for it!
    May 20, 2015 - 15:22

    Can you just hear the jokes? Think this will leave McIsaac a very weak Minister with an important portfolio.

  • Darlene Compton
    Darlene Compton
    May 20, 2015 - 15:18

    Reasonable doubt ? The integrity of all involved aside, including the "Special" coin and our not so well known PEI election tie breaking rules. Strictly on a doubt free "coin toss" result basis only, there are just too many issues to ignore. A coin toss is known to be a very unbiased method of decision as long as certain logical practices and hard earned traditions are adhered too. Was the coin tossed properly vigorously end over end? Was there a verification of the coin prior to this vigorous and Historical toss? Was the "Special" coin known to allow equal chance heads/tails? Well known law's of physics apply, any object with a heavier side will allow gravity to influence the outcome of free fall, the prominent side will land down more often than not. Reasonable doubt is introduced. Was the coin allowed to land on a hard flat surface and find its own orientation to determine a winner, uncontrolled by the hand of a human after being properly tossed? Was the coin caught and manipulated "flipped or not flipped"? More reasonable doubt. Anyone can be taught to identify and manipulate a coin toss in minutes, especially when a large heavy "Special" object with prominent features is used. A third party was allowed to set the rules of engagement for the coin toss? Throughout history, the two combatants, set the rules of engagement, often just before or during the flight of the coin. Allowing third party involvement introduces the possibility of reasonable doubt once again. Alphabetical coin toss? Traditionally the home team, through superior performance, is allowed to set the rules. There was clearly no home team in this case, thus the common social courtesy of the time should apply between the combatants ONLY. Any legal team could raise enough reasonable doubt to challenge the "process used" for this very historic PEI, diplomatic and socially important coin toss. if any of the above errors in the process were allowed to exist.

  • Cape Traverse Observer
    May 20, 2015 - 14:08

    In these rare cases there should be a hollering contest with the loudest and most objectionable contestant as is the usual outcome in life.

  • Garth Staples
    May 20, 2015 - 12:42

    PR and Coin Toss signs of political insanity and immaturity.

  • wondering
    May 20, 2015 - 12:42

    Why did the Lord not let MacIssac win with a decisive number in the first place???? Would have saved a lot of heartache and money- not to mention embarrassment nationally on account of the archaic systems we live by in this Province.

  • Dinky Dalton
    May 20, 2015 - 12:36

    Most provinces have a bye-election when there is a tie in the vote in a particular riding, but PEI settles the matter with a coin toss. Little wonder PEI is thought of as back

    • To dinky
      May 20, 2015 - 18:54

      Better go back to school - and while you are at it read the elections act!

  • Carl
    May 20, 2015 - 11:59

    Speaking of Mr. Lantz, where is he anyway? And when are we going to find out how he is being paid???

  • Reality
    May 20, 2015 - 11:40

    The only thing people from other provinces are laughing at us for is the number of knuckle draggers who keep yapping about this when they don't have a clue how our system works.

  • Ralph
    May 20, 2015 - 10:44

    PC's can't even win a coin toss...good though that Robby took a little vacay lol.

  • Showman
    May 20, 2015 - 10:17

    Well, the old saying goes: if you don't vote, you don't have any right to speak about how you feel about your government. Elections PEI has a "hit-list" of eligible voters who were "no-shows" on Monday, May 4. A coin-toss would be fair in this situation.

  • Chris
    May 20, 2015 - 10:13

    wow democracy at its finest, toss a coin to decide who represents our riding, seriously a coin toss this is the best that you can do for something this important, we really need to take a look at something better. Maybe a revote at a designated date say 30 days time for this riding, I think that would be a better democratic process how many out there would like their fate determined by the toss of a coin, what a joke!

    • Why?
      May 20, 2015 - 11:29

      Nope. It's not a joke at all. It is an efficient system that works. If you don't like the result you should have spent more time getting your friends to the polls. Too bad for you.

    May 20, 2015 - 10:07

    For all you misinformed and totally ignorant of the facts, who do you think has been putting this Province in debt for so many years. It certainly wasn't the two parties that you say are destroying the voting. It's the good old red and blue that you have been voting in for generations hoping you might get a piece of the pie that they keep giving to all their pals and to hell with the Province. As long as you have these two groups that make the mafia look like a kindergarten class you will continue to have nothing in this province

  • dawn
    May 20, 2015 - 09:58

    Mr. McIssca, if prayers were answered you would have lossed the coin toss, for the next four years remember you only won because you picked heads!! Mary Ellen great job, its to bad it came to a coin toss .....We need to put up with him for four more years .....

  • Terry
    May 20, 2015 - 08:25

    Far all the people who say "one person can't change anything" How this sinks in.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    May 20, 2015 - 07:46

    No Taxation without representation. The public should force another election. The public is not represented the way it should be. Everybody knows that except the Liberals. Expecting the Liberals to do anything to change the status quo, by bringing in proportional representation, I think is wishful thinking. Although it should be a high priority on their list, they would rather serve the Liberal Party's interests rather than the public's interests, as usual. We will get government as usual, the same crap by the same people. Why am I not seeing much coverage on the egaming scandal?

    • Run
      May 20, 2015 - 11:37

      If you like the system then put your name forward to run and change things kays. Whining like a 4 year old about EVERYTHING just makes you look pathetic.

  • Hick Town 101
    May 20, 2015 - 07:36

    We are the laughing stock of Canada.....this just proves it! What a joke!! Who comes up with these laws? A By-Election would seem to be the most obvious way to crown a winner.

  • tgim_pei0
    May 20, 2015 - 07:17

    Win's by a toss of the coin....if he was any good and popular he would have won by a long shot....See Mr. McIssac you are not the golden boy you thought you were...

    • Idiots
      May 20, 2015 - 11:38

      More evidence of the failed school system on PEI. He should win by a long shot? Why? Fact is he DID win and he won fairly. Too bad for you if you don't like the result.

  • Billy
    May 20, 2015 - 06:29

    Flip of a coin! Why aren't all wannabe MLAs put in with the flip of a coin. PEI is now really being laughed at across Canada. Embarrassing to say the least.

    • Nope
      May 20, 2015 - 11:35

      No. PEI is not laughed at by the rest of country because of this. If people are laughing at you then perhaps you need a self evaluation. Otherwise PEI is doing EXACTLY what every other jurisdiction in the country does when there is a tie vote.

  • TJ Barter
    May 20, 2015 - 06:03

    The initial count had McIsaac win in the first place. Why would the Lord then overturn that result only to force a coin toss. Who says God doesn't have a sense of humour? *eye roll*

  • Islander
    May 20, 2015 - 05:28

    Everyone has opinions, let's try to be respectful regardless of what side of the fence we sit.There are times when things could go either way. It went this way; whether it be faith, luck, or fate, it is what it is. Now, let's work together. If you don't like how things are run, nothing will change if it is only naysayers shouting from the sidelines. Get out in your community, get involved, make a difference. Be a responsible, informed, committed, contributing citizen. If you are already, great, keep going because our communities need you! Encourage others to become involved as well. There are all kinds of boards and community initiatives where one can choose to contribute.

  • Sad Voter
    May 20, 2015 - 02:19

    A tie-breaker election should be held. What morons came up with the coin toss policy? After Plan B and the other corrupt actions of the Liberals, both the Greens and NDP's would vote overwhelmingly against McIssac. The majority of District 5 do not want McIssac representing them, but a coin toss means that he will be. That's sad.

  • david
    May 19, 2015 - 22:17

    She can't even win a coin toss goes to show that she is not the candidate. Just like her leader Lantz.

  • Brenda
    May 19, 2015 - 21:59

    Congratulations, Alan!!

  • Jon
    May 19, 2015 - 20:56

    Poor mary Ellen what a great MLA she would have been. If Aylward had been leader she would have got a little boost to put her over the too. Aylward was very popular in this district. Next time mary Ellen!!

  • wayne k
    May 19, 2015 - 20:47

    New Zealand and Israel use Proportional Representation not the "First Past the Post" method like us. As it currently works the Federal government has a 39% "mandate" and does not allow members independence to actually represent riding's wishes. Might as well flip coins please try something else as we wage war to gift others with our "perfect system".

  • Joe Doe
    May 19, 2015 - 20:03


  • Good Toss
    May 19, 2015 - 19:31

    This coin toss just saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars. The seat is meaningless. The liberals already have a majority. McIsaac is already going to collect pension. This coin toss makes for one less worthless politician living out their life on the tax payer's dime.

  • amazing times
    May 19, 2015 - 18:56

    Well there now, divine service-, too bad it did not do away with sleaze, greed and patronage during the previous term, - but maybe that is not anything the Lord gets messed up in. Maybe you should have had a little chat with Ghiz, Mr. MacIssac , maybe the Lord would have looked out for the taxpayers.

  • lost
    May 19, 2015 - 18:48

    one more archaic 'pillar' in our electoral system. toss a coin, - how stupid can things get. the service of this man will have to be extraordinary considering he is called by the Lord. can't help but wonder where the Lord was, when this man (his servant) sat silently by and was party to the all the Ghiz shenanigans , - or maybe the Lord was not calling him during the previous term???.

  • Coin toss
    May 19, 2015 - 18:04

    The lords hands? Mary Ellen, even the lord didn't want you to win. Mr macIsaac was a disappointing yesman disaster who's arrogance grew over the past eight years and should have been easy, easy pickings. Thank you for your efforts but, pack it in. The electorate spoke. (Apparently, so did the Lord Jesus christ)

  • Whiskeydave
    May 19, 2015 - 18:03

    The current electoral systems inability to provide proper representation of the voting population is underlined by the whimsical decision making of a COIN, in order to determine not so much the winning side, but as to the voting populace who's choice remains without a voice. Liberal, Conservative, Green, NDP, animal, mineral or vegetable.....nobody won this.

    • Actually
      May 19, 2015 - 18:50

      Yep. Someone did win this. McIsaac won it fair and square according to our electoral laws.

  • reality
    May 19, 2015 - 17:44

    again the two spoiler parties with no chance in heck of winning allow a liberal to get a seat !!! those who wasted their vote on these fringe parties gave the Liberals an unfair advantage -- TWO PARTIES ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH !!

    • Vick
      May 19, 2015 - 18:31

      Couldnt agree more! All those who wasted their votes on green and NDP I hope you feel the pain for 4 yrs! Allan was running around saying if I lose in the recount I didnt lose I get to go fishing and golfing hardly a loss!

    • Brainless
      May 19, 2015 - 18:52

      The other candidates almost prevented this from happening. If you con trolls would stop encouraging your candidates to run then there wouldn't be a liberal winning. The con candidate took all of the votes from real candidates.

    • Bigger Reality
      May 19, 2015 - 19:02

      The real reality is the Green and NDP would have voted Liberal before PC if their party didn't have a candidate. Tory views just aren't shared by anyone other than Tories. I can see why you think "TWO PARTIES ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH!!", because the only way PC will win again is there is only one party.