Time is running out on Premier Wade MacLauchlan

Alan Holman
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Money in the bank earns interest. Capital, prudently invested increases in value. About the only unspent capital that doesn’t offer a return, is political capital. In fact unspent political capital quickly depreciates.

Prime Minister Trudeau-the-Younger understands this. To date, there’s no indication that Premier MacLauchlan gets it.

After his election the Prime Minister moved quickly on a number of fronts, from a gender-balanced and diverse cabinet to keeping campaign promises that he might well have broken or moderated, i.e. the withdrawal of the Canada’s jets from the Middle East.

There’s a political axiom that says politicians have a limited time to begin the process of initiating the programs they wish to accomplish while in office. It’s generally believed that window of opportunity occurs in the first 18 months. After that, political leaders get too bogged down in the day-to-day minutiae of governing. Then, before they know it, it’s time to gear-up for the next election.

Trudeau-the-Elder learned the nature of political capital, especially after his defeat by Joe Clark in 1979. When he returned to power in 1980, Pierre Trudeau quickly utilized his new-found political capital and began the process of Constitutional reform which became the hallmark of his political career.

In just over three weeks, Wade MacLauchlan will celebrate his first anniversary as Premier. Which means the shades will soon be drawn on his window of opportunity.

In comparing the Premier to the Prime Minister it may be Mr. MacLauchlan has the greater challenge; given the strength of his cabinet, the strength of his office and the strength of the Island’s senior bureaucrats.

The Prime Minister has a cabinet composed of talented and experienced people who are supported by competent bureaucrats and he has an office, staffed by people he trusts with whom he has worked for a number of years. Given all this support, Trudeau-the-Younger has the luxury of being able to spend more time being  leader, than on governing.

Of the two, even given the complexities of governing a country as large and diverse as Canada, the Prime Minister may well have an easier time of it than the Premier of Prince Edward Island.

Mr. MacLauchlan likely spends more time in the actual hands-on governing of the province, than Mr. Trudeau does running the country. Mr. Trudeau can delegate; to his office staff, to his ministers, and to the bureaucracy, with a confidence that Mr. MacLauchlan can only dream of.  

In part, this is a reflection on how the two came to office.

Justin Trudeau spent six years as an opposition MP and two years as party leader before he became prime minister. It was time well spent. He immersed himself in the party’s culture, he got to know the elected

MPs, and Liberals across the country. And he took the time to create the team that got him elected.

Mr. MacLauchlan decided in the fall of 2014 to try and become Liberal leader and premier. With no competition, and mainly through his own efforts, he was Premier three months later. And, in the spring election, though successful, he attracted very little new blood.

On the Island its mostly old hands on deck, 80 per cent of the cabinet and 80 per cent of the Liberal MLAs are hold-overs from the Ghiz years. In Ottawa it’s just the opposite; 80 per cent of Liberal caucus and about 80 per cent of the cabinet are newly elected MPs.

The government of Trudeau-the-Younger is, in many ways, a sharp contrast to the former Harper administration. On the Island it’s mainly a difference in tone, not personnel, with a policy tweak her and there.

Mr. MacLauchlan has a cache of political capital, but he needs to start spending it. Hopefully, in the up-coming Throne Speech he’ll give an indication of what he wants to accomplish before his time in office runs out.

And it will run out.


Alan Holman is a freelance journalist living in Charlottetown. He can be reached at: acholman@pei.eastlink.ca

Organizations: Liberal MLAs

Geographic location: Canada, Iceland, Prince Edward Island.Mr Ottawa Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Islander
    January 31, 2016 - 16:32

    This Premier has become a big disappointment to say the least. Smooth talker and according to him well educated. He wants all the past to be forgotton about and lets move forward. Thats not the way it works, if you don't clean up the past mess, you move forward with the same Ministers and the same mindset. The Premier has Ministers from the Ghiz Government who were heavily involved in PNP, Egaming, slush funds currently and the Avery contract deal by Crane and Hal Perry. Amazing how quiet they can be when the heat is on. The opposition had better be sharp this time around. I do see trouble there as the Opposition knew abouot the Avery deal and also are into the slush fund.

  • I Hate Corruption
    January 30, 2016 - 08:30

    In my mind, the window has been closed.And has been sine he has shown he can not take any criticism, nor will he expose any wrong doings of his party,himself nor friends of the parties.Much like the Guardian when they won,t print a comment that our local Islanders should know about. How close the family connections are to some of these people.How close MacLaughlin is connected to these firms and services you print stories about. Just like this comment I don,t emagine will see the light of day. Is MacLauchlan still the Chairman of the Board for Medavie? You wrote this story in March 2013.And does Medavie not own the Islands EMS service? You stated so December the 18th 2015,when EMS got new manager appointment.Wondering if MacLaucghlan has any investments in Medavie. I don,t have the power anymore to do the investigation work I would love to do,but I thought the Guardian might have someone who really cares or the knowledge to do so.

    • Cromwell
      January 31, 2016 - 08:07

      I fully agree. Previously, 'The Guardian' has gone out of its way to stifle, if not censure, any adverse comments regarding the abject performance of Mr. MacLauchlan. However, perhaps the paper, as well as the cadre of senior Liberals on PEI, have now come to recognize the long list of Mr. MacLauchlan's shortcomings, both as an elected MLA as well as, and certainly more importantly, as Premier. Unfortunately for Islanders, he has clearly demonstrated that other than a well-known surname, he brings no overt skills or competences to the position and confirms the old adage 'You can't make a silk purse out of a pig's ear'. The Liberal party should start looking for possible replacements.