Alan McIsaac wins seat in P.E.I. legislature by coin toss

Teresa Wright
Published on May 19, 2015

Education Minister Alan McIsaac

©Guardian photo by Heather Taweel

Alan McIsaac has been confirmed the MLA for Vernon River-Stratford in P.E.I. by a coin toss.

A judicial recount Tuesday of the ballots cast in the District 5 riding found an additional ballot for Progressive Conservative candidate Mary Ellen McInnis that had been mistakenly counted as a vote for McIsaac on election day, May 4.

McIsaac, the Liberal incumbent for the riding, was declared winner of the seat on election night with just two more votes than McInnis.

The additional ballot for her discovered in Tuesday’s recount put them in a tie.

They each had 1,173 votes.

According to the P.E.I. Elections Act, if a tie exists between two candidates after a judicial recount, the winner is chosen by a coin toss.

A special centennial coin was on hand, just in case.

Chief Electoral Officer Gary MacLeod says he developed guidelines for how the coin toss would work in the event this would be the deciding factor.

The candidate whose name is closest to the beginning of the alphabet was assigned ‘heads,’ the candidate with name closest to the end of the alphabet was given tails.

In the end, it was tails that won.

McIsaac was trembling as he emerged from the room where the recount was held, moments after the decision was rendered Tuesday.

“I put it in the lord’s hands and, you know, I guess he’s asking me to continue,” McIssac said.

“You know what this tells me? Every, every vote counts. And I hope everybody realizes that.”

McInnis walked out of the recount room quietly but with a gracious smile.

She says she is disappointed, but accepts the result as it followed the provisions in the Elections Act.

But she did say McIsaac’s win from the very narrowest possible margin shows he will not have an easy ride over the next four years.

“I’m very pleased with what I was able to do. Mr. McIsaac was a double cabinet minister and with my campaign team and the hard work that we’ve done since February, we’ve certainly proven that he hasn’t got this seat by any extra margin at all,” she said.

“He’s certainly going to have to work hard to keep the people in the constituency happy.”

It will now be up to Premier Wade MacLauchlan to decide whether McIsaac will be back in cabinet.

He served as Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development since 2011 and in February of this year was given the additional portfolio of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

MacLauchlan’s new cabinet will be sworn-in at Government House on Wednesday morning.