MURRAY RIVER – A candidate for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party not only fed the enthusiasm of devoted supporters here last night, but fed their hunger as well.
The famous “Murray River lunch” was unveiled for public consumption after leadership hopeful Darlene Compton made her pitch at the local community hall.
“It’s the crab sandwiches,” joked one supporter. “Can’t get ‘em anywhere else.”
Almost 150 people packed the local hall for the nominating meeting of Compton, who lives in Pinette in the southeastern part of the province and has been steeped in Island politics like a tea bag.
“We need to be bold and courageous when it matters,’’ she said. “We are small enough to create our own destiny and big enough to make it happen.”
After years of “reckless” borrowing and spending, Compton said the province must find ways that will lead to economic growth, provide opportunities for youth, and protect those most vulnerable.
“Our bedrock industries are farming, fishing and tourism and they have been struggling,” she told the crowd. “Reckless government spending has driven the debt to almost $3 billion….and that means $ 2.4 million a week in interest.”
Compton would be a provincial MLA today in the opposition against former Premier Robert Ghiz, but for eight votes that defeated her in the last election.
“She lost by one household,’’ said one supporter enjoying a crab sandwich. “That’s all….one household.”
Compton is no stranger to politics. Her father has been a poll captain for 50 years and she is related by family to the late local Tory MLA Dan Compton.
Her nominating meeting drew supporters from throughout the riding as well as Charlottetown, including leadership hopefuls James Aylward and Rob Lantz.
“The PC team is going to be an unstoppable force in the next election and we are here to form a team,’’ said MLA and former party leader Steven Myers who was asked to be guest speaker.
Work colleague Jennifer Penny, who moved her nomination, said Compton is respected for treating people with dignity.
Compton is currently on leave from her job as an administrator at the Gillis Lodge in Belfast.
“We are wrestling with many challenges; financial uncertainty, climate change, and finding a balance between security and privacy,” she said. “A true leader must recognize these problems, but also see the opportunities of maintaining food security and providing a lifestyle and technical infrastructure for those working in digital and creative arts.”
Compton said P.E.I. should be a leader both in research and processing in the new bio technologies and continue to be a welcome mat for visitors looking for quiet vacation or newcomers wanting a new life.
And she issued one iron clad proviso for those who might be part of her team.
“All MLA’s in government will be required to create an economic and community environment that will once again fill schools, rinks, and church pews all across this province.”