"Well, you guys, what do you think about Olive, now," said an elated Louisa, owner, barkeep and chief bottle-washer at Louie's, an establishment that exists because a group of old codgers need a place to gather for their afternoon libation.
"Yes," said Hat MacInnes, pulling up his chair, "Mousie, tell us what happened. Being the good Tory you are, I'm sure you were there."
"Hat, as you know, it's often difficult to get enough people to make an annual meeting official," said Mousie MacKay. "With more than 900 people crammed into the Rodd Royalty, this year's meeting was definitely official. The gang that wanted a leadership review made sure there was a good turnout."
"Yeah, but they lost," said Rifle Burhoe. "How come? Didn't they do anything to make sure the motion passed?"
"My god, Rifle, I know you're on the other side of the bridge, but don't you get the papers over there?" asked Swifty Stewart. "Do anything. They sure as hell did. They phoned, they had computers calling people with recorded messages, they had a poll showing over 70 per cent of the party members thought there was a need for a leadership review. They pulled out all the stops, and they still lost."
"So, Mousie," said Hat. "Why? What happened?"
"Simple," said Mousie, "they got out-hustled. Olive got more people to the meeting than they did. And there were people at the meeting who didn't like the spectacle of a public hanging. There were others who thought the timing of the move was wrong; that they haven't given Olive enough time to prove herself. But they pushed too soon, and they pushed too hard."
"That's right," said Louisa, "and she pushed back. Something they didn't expect. She didn't roll over and play dead."
"I think you're right, Louie," said Swifty. "I drove a guy to work on Monday and he claimed Olive should have done the honourable thing and called for a leadership review as soon as she heard about the move to change the rules. But why would she do that?"
"There's no denying her poll numbers are in the tank," said Hat. "But why now, Mousie, why did they go after her now?"
"They claim they needed an early review so the new leader would have enough time to get organized for the election in 2015," said Mousie. "Look, bottom line is, these people don't like Olive. She doesn't reach out to them, she doesn't take their advice and they think she's a loser."
"Well, she may not be doing well in the polls," said Rifle, "but they're a fine bunch to be calling her a loser. Two years ago most of them backed Jamie Ballem in the leadership race, and she won. A good many of them were hoping she'd get trounced in last year's election, but against all odds she won five seats. A week ago, she beat back their ploy to unseat her. Who are they to be calling her a loser?"
"That may be," said Swifty, "but that crowd isn't going away. They're going to keep up their opposition to her. In fact, one guy told me that a couple members of the party's fundraising team have quit. He said they are going to starve her out. They're not going to raise any money. Let's just see if she can run a party without any cash, he said. There's a big dinner coming up. Let's see how many tickets get sold."
"That may be, but at the end of the day, it boils down to poll numbers," said Mousie. "If her numbers jump, a lot of the opposition to her will dissipate. If they don't, she'll know that she'll have to go. It's a question of timing, but I'd say if things don't improve by next summer, she'll have to quit."
"You guys all pay a lot more attention to this stuff than I do," said Louisa, "but I think a lot of people are going to give her marks for standing up for herself. Islanders like people who don't back down. Her numbers will improve."
"The next poll results will be out in a few weeks," said Hat, "Most pundits think Olive is done like dinner, but we'll see. We'll also see if the premier and Liberals continue to slide. And we mustn't forget the NDP and the Greens. Both parties have new leaders and both could have an impact. We live in interesting times, Louie, interesting times."
Alan Holman is a freelance journalist living in Charlottetown. He can be reached at: email@example.com