Carver factor good news for P.E.I. PCs

Gary MacDougall
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Back in the 1970s, a group of Island Progressive Conservative supporters took it upon themselves to persuade Angus MacLean to run for the leadership of the P.E.I. party.

The late MacLean was Moses-like in his ability to part the political seas in favour of his Tories. He served in the House of Commons for 25 years, including a stint in the federal cabinet.

Beginning in 1966, provincial Tories could also relate to Moses, but not in MacLean’s positive way. Rather, like the biblical figure, they spent a long time in the wilderness.

One of the Tory strategists of the day in the mid-1970s was young lawyer Horace Carver and he, along with others, convinced MacLean to leave his comfy federal seat and seek the P.E.I. PC leadership. It turned out to be a good idea as he led Tories to the promised electoral land.

So it’s somewhat ironic that Carver’s name is now being mentioned as a candidate for the provincial PC leadership in much the same way as MacLean’s was — the fact the party needs someone to lead them out of the doldrums.

And these days the party is certainly back in the wilderness. It has suffered through several years of defeat, internal and public bickering over leadership and embarrassment in the public opinion polls.

Carver has not been officially approached by the PC party but I am told he is interested. A number of individuals, both inside and outside the party, have talked to him. In fact, several Liberal sympathizers have suggested he consider a run.

He certainly would not be a shoo-in to win the leadership. He doesn’t have Justin Trudeau’s hair, Robert Ghiz’s youth or Pat Binns’ trim figure. And, given the fact his days in politics were in the late 1970s and early 1980s, he may be yesterday’s man.

But Carver’s entry in the race would give the to-date leaderless leadership race a boost in credibility, where it is sorely lacking today. There’s a sense now that heading the PC party is like being named captain of the Titanic. Or, as Groucho Marx once said, “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.”

Carver is well respected, knowledgeable and passionate about issues of importance to P.E.I. He recently headed up a comprehensive study of the Lands Protection Act.

The fact Premier Robert Ghiz named Carver to head the study points to the regard he holds Carver.

In addition to Carver, other capable names are being bandied about as PC leaders, individuals such as Jamie Fox, Rob Lantz, Gail Shea, Tim Ogilvie, Darren Peters, Clifford Lee, Fred O’Brien and Jason Lee.

The next provincial election could be as far away as April of 2016, or as early as the fall of 2015, depending on the date of the federal election. Island Tories are expected to hold a leadership convention this fall but it could be pushed back to the spring of 2015.

Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m not chairing Horace Carver’s run for the leadership. But the fact someone like him may seek the office changes the whole game. And for the 100,000-plus political junkies on P.E.I., it makes things a lot more interesting.



Gary MacDougall is managing editor of The Guardian. He can be reached by telephone at (902) 629-6039; by email at; or on

Organizations: P.E.I. PCs, House of Commons, Tory The Guardian

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Recent comments

  • nitpicker
    April 25, 2014 - 08:45

    Is the main qualification for political leadership merely name recognition? Of all the names mentioned in this story I am familiar with most. But what I am less clear on are their qualifications for the leadership of a province. I am not suggesting MacDougall should have provided this insight; that's outside the scope of this opinion piece. But for those of us who like their vote to be as informed as possible, I would like to see, as "leadership" candidates emerge, more information on why they are the best option to lead PEI. I couldn't care less about the PC party being led out of the doldrums. I want someone who can lead this province out of the doldrums. And that should be the goal of every voter.

  • Craig
    April 22, 2014 - 18:57

    I hope there are some more qualified people being looked at! Just because they have been involved in politics before and currently does not mean they can or will do a good job! It would be nice to see a person that is more interested in doing what is wright not just what looks good! As bad as the liberals are I do not see a PC party being any better unless the proper person is in there! We need a Danny Williams type but I guess most provinces do!

  • agnes
    April 22, 2014 - 18:49

    the only person that makes sense is Tim Oligvie, - a man with a brain, for a change, -- but watch the Tories shoot themselves in the foot again, and give Ghiz the election

  • Quiet Observer
    April 22, 2014 - 13:36

    Just what we need another lawyer from the party backroom ... NOT!

  • Feminiest view
    April 21, 2014 - 14:53

    The TORIES I hope are not that desperate ,this must be a joke...... This is not the 1970's.....times have changed ....MR Carver apparently has not........ Island women would rebel if he jumped on the band wagon...