What direction are P.E.I. voters looking?

Gary MacDougall
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Try as he might, Premier Wade MacLauchlan is having a hard time controlling the agenda in P.E.I. politics.

Give him credit, he's been proactive in trying to. He has travelled across the Island seeking opinions, has announced new conflict of interest guidelines for public servants and sought out new ways to grow P.E.I.’s economy.

But, like the Charles Dickens’ character Jacob Marley, he is carrying around some chains and skeletons from his party’s closet. Whether that’s fair or not is of no consequence when it comes to politics - it’s reality.

How he deals with those skeletons, and whether the electorate can distinguish him from his party’s past sins, will decide whether he is elected premier in the spring election.

The ill-fated e-gaming venture will be an election issue. Although it’s unlikely anything of a criminal nature took place, it doesn’t pass the smell test.

It will be Tory gold in the upcoming campaign. Anytime a microphone is turned on, all a Tory supporter has to say, in 10 seconds or less, is something like this:

“What’s the deal with the front page story in Canada’s national newspaper about P.E.I.’s involvement is some crazy e-gaming and gambling initiative? And, what was Treasurer Wes Sheridan doing going to a gambling convention in London, England?”

A Liberal may be able to explain the e-gaming initiative in 15 minutes, but by then the audience will be thinning, or at least the audience’s attention. The damage will have been done.

Another old skeleton never far from the surface is the Provincial Nominee Program.

Alan Rankin is someone who should know about the PNP. He was the clerk of Executive Council under Robert Ghiz from 2007 to 2009. Before that, he worked in the Liberal governments of both Joe Ghiz and Catherine Callbeck. In other words, he was an insider.

In a column in the Eastern Graphic newspaper this week, he alleges abuses occurred with the PNP file in the Pat Binns PC government, and later even more so in the Robert Ghiz administration. Says Rankin: “PNP operated in the shadows, its benefits flowing only to those on a select and much guarded list.”

Although PNP has many boosters who point to how it has attracted new money and people to the province — which it has — it also has an odorous side to it that doesn’t pass the smell test for many in the electorate.

So, honk honk, along with e-gaming, PNP will be along for the ride in the spring election campaign.

In that election, Premier MacLauchlan will talk about the future and the province’s potential. Don’t blame me for the sins of my fathers, he will say. He may even join the chorus of people condemning some of the past shenanigans.

The Tories and their leader, Rob Lantz, along with the other political leaders, will also talk a great deal about the future and P.E.I.’s potential.

But while most of the rhetoric will be about the future, the key to the election’s outcome will be whether the electorate enters the polling booth looking back at past sins, or looking ahead.

Gary MacDougall is managing editor of The Guardian. He can be reached by telephone at (902) 629-6039; by email at gmacdougall@theguardian.pe.ca; or on Twitter.com/GaryGuardian.

Organizations: Executive Council, The Guardian

Geographic location: P.E.I., Iceland, Canada London England

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Recent comments

  • Andrew Lush
    March 24, 2015 - 07:08

    PNP doesn't pass the smell test - it doesn't pass the criminal test either!

  • No More
    March 24, 2015 - 06:42

    I will never vote liberal again. The greens are getting my vote this time. I was very impressed with the platform they released the other day. It covered everything in what seemed like a very sensible way. Not perfect, but certainly addresses some of the obvious problems that have built up over the years of libs and pcs.

  • Kim Petrie
    March 23, 2015 - 14:32

    This is not an election issue. Wes Sheridan resigned only recently. We need the information on the gaming committee file to proceed onward and need to know the investors, to fully assess criminal sanctions. The million dollars in professional fees is criminal already, and I think your poll showed what 86% of Islanders wanted a judicial inquiry. It seems that the public profile interests of those at the core are worth writing off the utterly wasted 990,000 in professional services.

  • country boy
    March 23, 2015 - 14:14

    Wouldn't it be nice if we didn't have to think red or blue but vote for the most competent person who has no backroom pressures but serves only those who elected them. The size of our province and the size of the population would definitely allow that. No parties left or right, only good people elected who then appoint their premiere from those elected.

  • Bogas companies
    March 23, 2015 - 10:41

    Im very proud to say Im voting NDP they can not do any worse that the last red and blue regimes. We as islanders need to turn those who would not change their vote for anything to vote for the NDP.Im só tired of the same old PEI politics nothing changes,just deeper in debt,and nobody doing anything about it just still forking over OUR Money to big businesses.

  • tired
    March 23, 2015 - 08:12

    Anyone but, LIBERAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • too happy
    March 22, 2015 - 21:48

    It would kind of be like electing Rob Ford's brother wouldn't it??

  • The Liberals do not deserve the public's support
    March 22, 2015 - 10:38

    What the Liberals did was scandalous ,and now with a new face they want back at the provincial trough..to continue their enrichment ..........

  • reality
    March 21, 2015 - 13:36

    candidates of several parties who are signed up for the next election campaign have received PNP BENEFITS -- Are you going to vote foR a PNP POLITICIAN?

  • Really!
    March 21, 2015 - 12:46

    A new Liberal party that is free and clear of the PNP files,the Internet Gambling file, the doubling of the debt of the province of 140.000 to over 3 billion dollars, writing of loans to party hacks, granting low interest loans to Rodds and Paderno among others! Does Wade really believe that Island voters are so dumb to believe this; when the party stills has Richard Brown, Valerie Docherty, Janice Sherry and Alan Roache running again in the upcoming election? As well as Brooke MacMillan and Alan Campbell still drawing huge salaries from Island taxpayers!

    • stupid voter
      March 21, 2015 - 13:39

      and do not forget CONSERVATIVES who are pnp'ERS and are still around

    • BCameron
      March 21, 2015 - 17:59

      That light at the end of the tunnel............is definitely a freight train!! With the mood of Islanders, the last week of April election call will be a major disaster for both parties. History in the making!

  • Hank
    March 21, 2015 - 09:55

    Could not have said it better myself, - except you forgot the smell of unauthorized write-offs of loans, and who changed the normal procedure.

  • Allan King
    March 21, 2015 - 08:33

    Past sins? The Liberal party of PEI still has its core intact as far as the party leadership goes so how can any of this be looked at as past sins? If we re-elect this party we will look like a bunch of back woods fools to the rest of this country. People need to pay a little more attention to what is going on. It is your money after all.

    • Islander
      March 24, 2015 - 10:46

      and if you elect the Conservative PArty of PEI with the old like faces of Peter McQuaid, Jason Lee, Murray Murphy and Dennis King things will not be much better!