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Bevan-Baker says P.E.I. Greens viewed as party of change heading into election campaign

Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, right, chats with Green MLA Hannah Bell before question period. Polls are suggesting Island voters could soon elect Canada's first Green government.
Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, right, chats with Green MLA Hannah Bell before question period earlier this year. - File

Green party leader Peter Bevan-Baker says he is not fazed by Wade MacLauchlan’s early election call on Tuesday night.

Reached by phone on the way to a nomination meeting in New London, Bevan-Baker said he was going into the April 23 P.E.I. election campaign with confidence.

“Our party has never been as well prepared for any election,” Bevan-Baker said.

He pointed to the party’s recent fundraising successes – the party almost doubled its fundraising numbers in 2018 compared to 2017 – and said the party has been working on its campaign platform for over a year. The party has so far nominated 21 candidates.

But, he said, the most encouraging sign he has seen has been at the doors with voters.

“Every day when I'm out on the doors, I meet Islanders who, in their own way, will say 'we're ready for change’,” Bevan-Baker said.

"By that, I mean not just bringing back the guys we kicked out a couple of elections ago but profound, real change."

The Green party has been leading in opinion polls conducted by Corporate Research Associates since August of 2018. Bevan-Baker is currently the top choice for premier of 37 per cent of voters on P.E.I., head and shoulders above Premier Wade MacLauchlan, who is the pick of 20 per cent of voters.

Despite its popularity in polls, the Greens have far fewer resources than the PCs or the Liberals. The party raised just shy of $80,000 in 2018. Although the 2018 tallies for the other two mainline parties have not been released, the Liberals raised $362,209 in 2017, while the PCs raised $203,017.

"I'm blessed with a really level constitution. It takes an awful lot to get me riled up. I have no skeletons in my closet, I have nothing that they can bring up that can be of any consequence."
-Peter Bevan-Baker

Party representative Jordan Bober said the party’s candidates have been focusing on door-to-door engagement more than flashy announcements or expensive ads.

"In terms of our strategy, it's really just about getting to all the doors in a way that people have not experienced from the Green party in the past," Bober said.

Bober said candidates have largely avoided using talking points and have instead focused on asking voters what their priorities are.

Bevan-Baker said the fact that the party is a new alternative to voters has been helpful in its outreach to many people.

“Greens are on the rise in many parts of the world,” he said.

“That is, in part, a rejection of conventional politics and unimaginative politicians.”

With Bevan-Baker’s popularity will come challenges. Other parties have begun taking aim at the former dentist.

During a speech Tuesday night, in which he publicly announced his election call, Premier Wade MacLauchlan referred to Bevan-Baker as an “untested leader” and a “career politician”.

"The future of our province is too important to risk on uncertain, potentially expensive social experiments led by a career politician," MacLauchlan said.

Bevan-Baker said he was undeterred by the criticism he has received.

"I'm blessed with a really level constitution. It takes an awful lot to get me riled up," he said.

"I have no skeletons in my closet, I have nothing that they can bring up that can be of any consequence."

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