© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Liberals applaud when it was announced former Progressive Conservative MLA Hal Perry is joining the Liberals.
Hal Perry dropped a political bombshell when the Tignish-Palmer Road MLA joined the provincial Liberal Party this week. Premier Robert Ghiz seemed elated as he welcomed the former Progressive Conservative into the fold. One wonders where the premier might find a place or role for Mr. Perry to play in the party.
Did Mr. Perry do the right thing? As a matter of conscience, he said his only option was to speak out against the Employment Insurance changes that have so harshly affected his riding. He felt muzzled by his party, so he did what his conscience demanded. We must take Mr. Perry at his word. He could have resigned or sat as an independent. One choice leaves the citizens without any voice and the other with a very small voice.
His riding has a very high number of seasonal workers and he was under enormous pressure to speak out. He felt he could best represent them and stand up for what he believes in as a Liberal and not with the PC party.
Obviously, the big winner is the Liberal Party. The biggest loser is obviously the PC Party of P.E.I., which saw its tiny caucus shrink even further. Egmont MP Gail Shea saw the only provincial Tory inside her federal riding defect, largely over EI changes. Mr. Perry switching parties was a clear statement about her refusal to criticize the federal government for those changes.
Neil LeClair, the former Liberal MLA for Tignish-Palmer Road, just saw his chances at regaining his seat take a setback. Mr. Perry will likely seek the Liberal nomination and Mr. LeClair will likely oppose him in a bloody and messy floor fight.
Premier Ghiz said Mr. Perry would bring an in-depth knowledge, perspective and background on EI changes, and their disproportional impact on Atlantic Canada, especially among seasonal workers and primary industries.
Perry held the title of Opposition leader for a time earlier this year following the debacle involving former leader Olive Crane. He and Ms. Crane were tightly allied, leaving the former leader even more isolated within her own party, until she got the boot herself late Friday.
Ultimately the people of Tignish-Palmer Road will decide if he did the right thing and if they support that decision.
. . . Weekend thoughts
… Islanders have given Sen. Mike Duffy a resounding vote of non-confidence. In a Corporate Research Associates poll released this week, Islanders were asked if Sen. Duffy should resign following recent revelations of improperly claimed living expenses. Over 85 per cent think Mr. Duffy should resign while six per cent think he should stay. CRA chairman Don Mills predicts it will be hard for the senator or the Prime Minister to ignore the wishes of the citizens of P.E.I. No one should be surprised if both do exactly that.
. . . The report from a three-member Maritime lobster panel is already a month late. Fisheries ministers from the Maritime Provinces named the independent panel last spring to examine slumping lobster prices. P.E.I.’s representative is Lewie Creed, a former provincial deputy minister of fisheries. The panel's report was expected in September and likely won’t be released until late October. Deputy ministers were briefed this week on the contents at a meeting in N.S.
… Whatever happened to the bull that injured two workers trying to remove him from a pen at the Atlantic Beef Products plant in Albany a little over a week ago? Usually, there is a reprieve granted an animal that escapes or heroically evades the knife while on the way to its doom. A blue lobster or a slippery swine usually is taken to a safe habitat to live out its days in peace. We fear Ferdinand wasn’t so lucky.