Chances are the mysterious monster of Loch Ness has never made its secretive way along the River Ness to the open waters of Moray Firth in Scotland.
But if it ever does, it might take a wee moment to poke its head above the waves as it rounds Chanonry Point and shoot a glance left to Fortrose.
The community of about 1,500 is known for the 13th century ruins of its cathedral. How appropriate. A monster and a ruin.
After all, Fortrose is the childhood home of Peter Bevan-Baker, the MLA and leader of P.E.I.’s Green party. And that party’s nightmare rise has ruined the best-laid plans of the ruling Liberal party and their Conservative we’re-the-government-in-waiting competition.
It was just a political oddity two years ago when Bevan-Baker won Kelly’s Cross-Cumberland in the provincial election.
Popular local candidate overcomes the very Island – and Canadian, for that matter – hesitation to hold hands with anyone but the Liberals and Conservatives. Islanders have heard that one before.
After all, NDP leader Dr. Herb Dickieson won West-Point-Bloomfield in 1996. And look what that got them. The next time around the party’s popular vote climbed to 8.4 per cent, but Dickieson lost his seat and the NDP drifted back into the shadows.
Surely, the Greens and their leader are on the same career path, went the accepted wisdom.
Then Hannah Bell’s 768 votes happened. She won the byelection in Charlottetown-Parkdale over Liberal Bob Doiron’s 611 votes, with the PC’s Melissa Hilton well back in third at 586 and NDP leader Mike Redmond a very distant last at 202.
Suddenly the 27 seats in the provincial legislature includes two Green MLAs.
That’s hardly the early Christmas present the Liberals – or the very patient Conservatives, or the long-suffering NDP – were hoping for.
So what’s likely on the wish list for each of the parties in these final couple of days before the presents get opened? Let me guess:
• The Liberals – They got the best early Christmas present ever on Nov. 28, 2014 when Wade MacLauchlan said yes and decided to run for leader of the party.
Leadership hopefuls – wisely – jumped out of the road and he won unopposed, becoming premier the following February. Islanders hopped on board too, giving his party 18 seats and a third straight term on May 4, 2015.
Santa, you rock.
Now, with likely two years until the next likely election, the Liberals have to hope MacLauchlan is the gift that keeps on giving. And MacLauchlan? He’s likely hoping for a memorable legislative win – not big so much as memorable.
That’s tough. Education reform has stumbled. Voting reform, ditto. Big changes are tough, even tougher as another election nears.
• The Conservatives – Leader James Aylward needs to convince Islanders he has the political heft to be premier. The slow-but-sure approach is designed to do that, but being cautious is draining. So much waiting, so much hoping.
• The Greens – Avoid Island history, hold onto what you have and find another seat to target. Who knows, they might end up with the balance of power in a minority government. Then things get really interesting.
• The NDP – Build a party, with riding associations and money. Island politics is retail. Find a way into the legislature, or risk being forgotten.
- Rick MacLean is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.