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RICK MACLEAN: Politicians, plans often go awry

Coun. Bob Doiron speaks during a Charlottetown city council meeting in this Guardian file photo. Doiron was one of two city councillors calling for an overhaul of the city’s public works strategy of determining which roads get paved.

(Guardian file photo)
Coun. Bob Doiron speaks during a Charlottetown city council meeting in this Guardian file photo. (Guardian file photo) - The Guardian

Political rumour mill had Liberal power brokers determined to drop Marcia Carroll into Currie’s spot

Man plans, then God laughs. That goes double for politicians.

Take the upcoming provincial byelection in District 11, Charlottetown-Parkdale. If you were itching to drop $20 on a bet, you’d have plopped your money on the fix is in.

The story started Oct. 19. Education minister Doug Currie announced he was calling it quits. Right now, he said.

“I’m in my 57th year, so I felt that if I want to have a potential new opportunity, the window closes fairly quickly at certain ages, so I feel right now I’m in that window that I have another opportunity to do something.”

At age 60, I get where he’s coming from. God speed.

He said he was bailing now to give the party time to find a replacement. After all, there’s a general election two years away and there’d have to be a byelection even sooner.

“I owe it to the party that I make sure I give them time to look at a potential candidate, an opportunity to keep my seat strong.”

No problem, said the ruling Liberals, who promptly set their nomination meeting for Oct. 30, leaving the other parties to scramble. Talk about not letting the chair get cold.

The rumour mill – there’s always a rumour mill in politics – had the Liberal power brokers determined to drop Marcia Carroll into the spot, hence the short notice. No time for party faithful with annoying objections to marshal their forces and react.

And you can see Carroll’s appeal. Executive director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities.

“For 15 years Marcia has worked with the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities, first as a program manager and later as the senior staff person responsible for the organization,” read one story about her.

“Prior to that she served as regional director for the Red Cross as well as executive director for the Boys & Girls Club. She began her career working as a program manager for Women’s Network of P.E.I.”

What’s not to like? Maybe one day soon, maybe before the next provincial election, a spot at the cabinet table. A fresh face for a party eager to avoid accusations it has been in power too long.

Great plan. Did you hear the laughing?

The leadership in political parties – when they’re in power and when they’re not – love to make plans. Plans for the next election. Plans for the next leadership convention. Plans, plans, plans.

They forget the troops on the ground may have their own plans, and they may not fit so well with those of their leadership.

Enter Charlottetown city councillor Bob Doiron. He threw his name into the ring and, surprising perhaps even himself, won the hastily called nomination meeting. Here’s hoping the party leaders hadn’t already ordered the campaign signs with Carroll’s name on them.

Now the Nov. 27 byelection will get really interesting. The Tories have Melissa Hilton, the Greens have Hannah Bell and the NDP leader Mike Redmond is in the game too. Each has a need to win. The Tories to bolster their government-in-waiting credentials, the Greens to show they’re not a one-riding wonder, and the NDP to get their man onto the floor of the legislature and in front of the public.

It all looked so simple, back when there was a plan.

- Rick MacLean is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.

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