Crane's limitations on full display last week

Rick MacLean
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About 24 hours. That's all it took.

In the time it took to give two interviews last week, Olive Crane drove home the painful reason why she was hounded out of the leadership position of the provincial Tory party.

In an interview in this paper, and later on TV, she reminded voters in P.E.I. why they just could not find it within themselves to see her as the premier-in-waiting.

It was, at times, very difficult to watch.

Crane is, clearly, a dedicated public servant with a real interest in what she believes are issues of concern to Islanders. But her struggle to sell that was plain for all to see.

"Today, I was hoping you might be interested in a few other things, other than just who's the new Opposition leader," she said, barely a minute into the TV interview.

No chance. She may have wanted to talk about things like helping people needing out-of-province organ transplants, but that was never going to happen. And it was her fault.

Yes, Crane was knifed by members of her own party who didn't like her. They were only successful, however, because the polls said she was unpopular with the voters. She couldn't win. And that is the greatest sin in politics.

Her problem was she couldn't sell herself. And that was on full display last week. Asked to talk about the obvious division within the party, she let her understandable anger seep through.

"I believe in grassroots politics," she said on TV. "I believe in having the power of the people. I believe that good government is for everyone, not a select few. Now, some people don't believe in that."

Now, voters are forever saying they wish politicians would talk like real people. That's what voters say, but they don't mean it. In reality, politicians using unguarded language, saying what they really feel, are almost invariably punished for it.

In 1970, Pierre Trudeau stood on the steps of the House of Commons and gave an honest, angry answer to a persistent reporter's question about his implementing the War Measures Act, suspending civil rights in his fight against FLQ terrorists in Quebec.

There are soldiers in the streets, the reporter said. How far will you go?

"Just watch me."

Trudeau was hammered for that response.

About the only politician able to sell anger was Danny Williams, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador for years. When he seethed in front of reporters, saying Stephen Harper was not to be trusted, calling him "Steve," it worked. Williams could sell it.

Crane couldn't.

"We are provincial Progressive Conservatives," she said about her own party, emphasizing the word ‘progressive'. "Or, we were under my leadership."

Ouch. That sound you heard, that was the sound of bridges being burned - no, flattened by napalm. It's not what voters expect from someone who claims to be the premier-in-waiting.

"Yes, I may not pronounce my I-N-Gs sometimes," she told a Guardian reporter. "Yes, I dress kind of funny. But I'll tell you, I believe in Islanders, I'm proud to be an Islander and I'm proud to be a Progressive Conservative," she said.

"I'm not sure why I make people uncomfortable, but the bottom line is, I work for all Islanders," she said on TV.

That kind of lack of personal insight may be enough for an MLA, maybe even a cabinet minister. It's not enough for a premier. The Tory party may take years to recover from what's happening to it now. As for Crane's political career, it may never recover, at least within her own party.

Rick MacLean is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.


Organizations: Holland College, Crane's, House of Commons Progressive Conservatives

Geographic location: P.E.I., Quebec.There, Newfoundland and Labrador Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • intobed
    February 09, 2013 - 17:47

    I am quite interested in seeing the most recent poll numbers for the PEI Conservative party. They blamed Olive for the low rankings, and showed her low poll results as a leadership candidate as reason for wanting her gone. Obviously Steve Myers and Hal Perry will have much higher numbers, since the backroom supports them. Right? HAH!

  • The Professor
    February 09, 2013 - 14:25

    I wisch peeple wood tak sum tyme to chek there spellin end gramer befour they postid there koments on hear.its eggrAvatin to reed koments thar uz poor landguag.misspelled end porly tyipted

  • Carly
    February 09, 2013 - 11:00

    How long is Olive going to try to pretend there was some massive conspiracy and that only she was interested in uncovering it? The PNP list is in the open. Conspiracy revealed. Shocking. Yet Olive still runs around screaming "She's a witch!" every time someone doesn't think she could be premier. It's a joke.

  • Mick
    February 09, 2013 - 10:49

    People FOLLOW leaders. True leaders do not beg for followers. Now we have a PC Gong show trying to replace the Grit Gong show of a government. Not a leader in either party strong enough to make the tough choices for Islanders. Now the financial mess this province is in, no respectable intelligent and popular person wants that job and ruin a life's reputation......back to the Gong show.

  • what about the threats against her from party
    February 09, 2013 - 07:56

    McLean avoids the elephants in a weak attempt to disgrace Crane. Party big shots warned Crane to back off on the PNP and several threatened her career with ruin. Crane also identified the two camps in the Party as one being Reform Conservatives and one being PEI Conservatives. Now a former Liberal supporter Blake Doyle is "running" the party pushing through his flimsy interpretations provided by Stewart McKelvey hacks and parasites. Funny eh?

  • walter
    February 09, 2013 - 07:34

    So that is what it is all about, - a struggle between the to branches of the P.C. party, -- and for that we will continue letting Ghiz run the province into the ground. I had no idea there were so "small' people at play here, --- shame on you all, -- and good by. I hope the NDP and the Green Party will join together and beat the two old parties, let's not be as stupid as them, let's be strategic, smart and win -------------- As forOlive Crane, Islanders cannot stand somebody calling a spade a spade, they prefer a spade being called a silver spoon, dummis, eh?

  • augusta
    February 09, 2013 - 07:28

    Olive did well in that interview, and I am sure she did not give a dam about burning bridges, they had already been burned by the party traitors, she was on teh other side already, - and don't need to regret that, it was bad company. I would have given the media a going over too, along with the women's movement. They all suffer from the same syndrome,--- being liberal. All the women calling for women in politics were numb, --- you are a bunch of tax supported hypocrits, by the way. Now where do we go from here??? --- Obviously,( as Ghiz likes to say), Islanders want to continue with being overtaxed, debt ridden, mismanaged by inept people, and listening to the current jammering Premier, ---- all the well to do will continue to do well,--- and the less well to do can continue to enjoy watching the prosperity of the rich.

  • linda
    February 09, 2013 - 07:19

    Rick McLean's in an interesting assessment, and perhaps not totally wrong. I want to defend Olive Crane, I want to sk everybody that has been so mean,vicious and critical to look at themselves, - could you have dine better? Could she have done better? I know the answer to why she did not 'catch on'. IUt was becuase Islanders are small minded people, still living with a feudal mentality, -- they are too insecure to let somebody of their own status lead them. They need somebody "rich and famous" (Ghiz?) to worship, and lots of lawyers in theback room (Ghiz?)' . Olive Crane could have been a fantastic leader, but we would not let her, --- after all who does she think she is sticking her country head from Morrell up and think she can lead us???? It is amazing that in 2013 Islanders are so backward, - but here we are prefer dishonesty and mismanagement of our taxes.