Observers of P.E.I.'s political scene could be forgiven if the Abbott and Costello comedy skit ‘Who's on First?' comes to mind when they look at the current state of Toryville P.E.I.
Just like Abbott couldn't get it through his head who was on first base, it may soon be difficult to figure out who is speaking on behalf of the P.E.I. Progressive Conservative Party.
Olive Crane has announced she plans to step down as party leader later this month. That decision announced on Dec. 5 came after months of mounting discontent in the party with her leadership, largely fuelled by the fact the party has been languishing in opinion polls in spite of unpopular actions by the ruling Liberals.
At the same time as Crane announced she was stepping down as party leader, she said she would stay on as Opposition leader. An opposition leader leads her or his party during the high-profile P.E.I. legislature sessions; it's an important position that attracts a lot of public attention.
So what Crane actually announced was that while she won't be the leader of the PC party, she'll remain the point person when the house is in session.
Hmm, that Abbott and Costello thing is creeping back into my head.
The PC party is now in search of an interim leader, someone who will serve as leader of the party until a new permanent leader is selected in a couple of years. That interim leader will be chosen by the PC Party executive and caucus and it can be someone who is already an MLA, or someone who is not elected.
If it's someone who isn't an MLA, the water gets muddy in terms of who speaks for Island Tories. It would be the interim leader when the legislature isn't sitting, but what weight would he or she have when the house is sitting and Crane is running the show?
All of this brings another entertainment image to mind: the movie ‘A Few Good Men'.
Without sounding sexist — they're all men, after all — the obvious path out of the Tory turmoil is for one of the four PC MLAs to man up and take one for the good of the party.
Either James Aylward, Hal Perry, Stephen Myers or Colin LaVie needs to be named interim party leader. Having that happen would eliminate the always-awkward situation of having a non-elected person speak on behalf of a party that has five duly elected MLAs.
After all, what are they? Potato culls not worthy of representing the party for a few months? I don't think so. All have performed quite adequately since their election.
And whichever one is named interim leader must also take over the reins as Opposition leader when the next legislature session comes around — whether Ms. Crane likes it or not. In that regard, the interim leader would need the support of fellow caucus members.
The idea of having two ‘leaders' is a non-starter for the party if it is serious about presenting itself as an alternative to the ruling Liberals.
Looking at the PC Fab Four (sans Crane who obviously can't return as leader), some of them may have aspirations of seeking the permanent leadership of the party, and if so, they can understandably be excused from being interim leader. But it's unlikely all four have that ambition.
In spite of the turmoil, confusion and bad blood that currently exists in the PC party, the path to a brighter Tory future is clear.
Here's the recipe: select an interim leader from among the sitting MLAs; ensure that person is also the Opposition leader; work at healing factions in the party; hold an invigorating leadership campaign and when the next election rolls around, go to battle against the Liberals, not fellow Conservatives.
Now back to more entertainment images, this time from the movie ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan'.
In it Spock says, "It's logical, the needs of the many outweigh..."
"...The needs of the few," said Captain Kirk in finishing Spock's sentence.
"Or the one," said Spock.