Island Party running in next provincial election

Paul Smitz takes over as interim leader

Ryan Ross
Published on March 4, 2015

Island Party members have decided to run a campaign in the next election and have announced four candidates. Front: Gary Chipman, left, Paul Smitz; in back: Todd MacKinnon, left, Keith Kennedy.

©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

Some Island voters will have a little more choice on their ballots after the Island Party’s members decided to run a campaign in the next election.

Party members met Sunday to decide what to do in the expected spring election and during that meeting they also chose a new interim leader.

Former candidate Paul Smitz will take over that role and said the support was there for another election campaign.

“It was overwhelming yes,” he said.

Smitz is one of the party’s founders and a candidate in the last election who ran in Kellys Cross-Cumberland where he finished fifth with 37 votes.

In December, Smitz told The Guardian the Island Party members were uncertain if it was worth running a campaign in the next election.

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But that’s what the party will do with members choosing Smitz as interim leader.

Smitz said one of the catalysts in the decision to have the party run a campaign was the Liberals acclaiming Wade MacLauchlan as leader, which in turn meant he became premier.

“The whole thing is totally undemocratic,” Smitz said.

The Island Party is fighting an uphill battle against parties that have more money, more resources and have been busy naming candidates in preparation for a spring election.

During the last election the Island Party ran 12 candidates.

As of Tuesday they had four.

Those candidates were Smitz, who said he will run in his riding if no one else wants to, Gary Chipman, who plans to run in Morell-Mermaid, and Todd MacKinnon, who will run in York-Oyster Bed.

Former Charlottetown mayoral candidate Keith Kennedy plans to run in Charlottetown-Brighton.

Smitz said the party, which finished with less than one per cent of the popular vote in 2011,

plans to run on the same platform it used in the last election.

And while he said he will be ready to lead, if necessary, during an election he doesn’t consider himself a leader and is more of a backroom worker.

“That’s where I shine.”

Island Party by the numbers

• Total votes in 2011 election - 682

• Number of candidates - 12

• Percentage of popular vote - 0.9 per cent

• Candidate with highest vote count - Billy Cann - 200 votes