Green Party makes history in P.E.I. election

Jim Day jday@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on May 4, 2015

HAMPTON — The lean, green fighting machine has broken through.

For the first time, a Green Party candidate has been elected to the P.E.I. legislature.

And Peter Bevan-Baker, the leader of the Green Party of P.E.I., did so in decisive fashion.

The Hampton dentist stormed in with close to 55 per cent of the votes in District 17, ending Liberal cabinet minister Valerie Docherty's eight-year representation of Kellys Cross-Cumberland constituents.

Supporters packed Monday night into Bites Cafe in Hampton erupted into hoots and cheers as Bevan-Baker cruised to victory taking 2,077 votes to second place Docherty's 1,046.

"It's fantastic,'' said Peter Lanthier, husband of Green Party candidate Darcie Lanthier.

"It's what we wanted.''

Lanthier says Bevan-Baker resonated with voters because of his honesty and sincerity.

"He's just a vibrant person who cares,'' said Lanthier.

"He has concern for everybody.''

The victory marks 23 years of campaigning as a Green Party candidate, including Bevan-Baker's third straight provincial campaign in P.E.I.

"I can't tell you how thrilling this is to be surrounded by the people we have here,'' he said.

"It's just extraordinary.''

He believes his impact as a one-MLA party will depend on the chemistry of the legislature.

"I will use every opportunity that I have to put forward what I believe to be crucial issues that perhaps have not had the level of importance put on them with previous legislations,'' said Bevan-Baker.

Offering congratulations through the media to Wade MacLauchlan for retaining his premiership, Bevan-Baker said he looks forward to continuing the collaboration shown between the two leaders in debates.

"Wade and I have a very good relationship,'' he said.

"I imagine that we will be able to work together.''

Bevan-Baker plans to promote a local food security act in the legislature as well as pushing for proportional representation and even lowering the voting age to 16.

Green Party of Canada leader and federal MP Elizabeth May, who came to P.E.I. Friday to rally for Bevan-Baker, applauded his victory.

"Peter brought forward original and innovative policies, campaigned with honesty and engaged PEI voters on issues that matter,'' May said in a statement.

"I know he will bring the same commitment to his constituents in his role as MLA for District 17.''

Bevan-Baker says Docherty did not do herself any favours in some of her decisions and behavior over the last few years as a cabinet minister.

Docherty, who served as minister of Community Services and Seniors, carried into the election campaign heavy criticism over the $5 million that went unspent in her department last year.

Still, Docherty was surprised by the outcome.

"It certainly wasn't what I was hearing at the doors...it's disappointing in I wasn't done,'' she said.

"I had a lot to give.''

She wishes Bevan-Baker well.