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Charlottetown-Winsloe byelection date set for Nov. 2

A byelection has been called for November 2 in District 10, Charlottetown-Winsloe
A byelection has been called for November 2 in District 10, Charlottetown-Winsloe - Stu Neatby

A Nov. 2 byelection in Charlottetown-Winsloe could give Dennis King’s Progressive Conservatives a technical majority in the legislature. 

On Tuesday, King set a Nov. 2 date for the byelection. The countdown to the byelection was triggered after long-time Liberal MLA Robert Mitchell announced he would be stepping down in early September.

Should the governing Progressive Conservatives win another seat, it would give the party 14 of 27 seats in the legislature, although one of those seats would belong to the Speaker, PC MLA Colin LaVie. A Speaker of the legislative assembly only casts tie-breaking votes in the legislature.

Robert Mitchell
Robert Mitchell

The byelection could also aid the opposition Liberals or Greens. A Liberal win would demonstrate the party is capable of maintaining what was once considered a stronghold district. Mitchell held the Charlottetown-Sherwood seat, a predecessor of the current district, between 2007 and 2019, and won the seat in 2019 by a significant margin.

A win for the Greens would strengthen their hand considerably and demonstrate that the urban momentum the party carried into the 2019 election has not dissipated.

The provincial NDP are hoping the byelection will give them a foothold in the legislature.

The Candidates

Three of the four parties have nominated their candidates 

The Liberals have nominated Zac Murphy, a 29-year old financial advisor with Younker and Kelly.

Some Liberal MLAs, most notably Heath MacDonald, have emphasized Murphy’s youth, as well as his record with Charlottetown’s Youth Advisory Board.

Zac Murphy is the first to seek the Liberal nomination for recently vacated Charlottetown-Winsloe seat. - Contributed
Zac Murphy is the first to seek the Liberal nomination for recently vacated Charlottetown-Winsloe seat. - Contributed

On Saturday, the Progressive Conservatives nominated former radio host Zack Bell. Bell was host of the Morning Hot Tub on Hot 105.5 for a decade before taking a position as a sales associate with Kenmac Energy.

Bell defeated two other nomination candidates, Sonya Hooper and Susie Dillon, in a vote that was described as close. Close to 400 PC members voted.

Zack Bell delivers a speech shortly after winning the PC nomination in Charlottetown on Saturday - Stu Neatby
Zack Bell delivers a speech shortly after winning the PC nomination in Charlottetown on Saturday - Stu Neatby

On Tuesday evening, the Greens nominated entrepreneur Chris van Ouwerkerk as their candidate.

Van Ouwerkerk is the owner of Jercules: Fine Beef Jerky and Butcher & Butcher: Fine Island Meat. 

Chris van Ouwerkerk is the Green candidate for the upcoming byelection in Charlottetown-Winsloe.- Contributed
Chris van Ouwerkerk is the Green candidate for the upcoming byelection in Charlottetown-Winsloe.- Contributed

The NDP has nominated Lynne Thiele, who has run with the party both provincially and federally.

Thiele is an educator and recently published a book, Esther of Farrington.

Lynne Thiele is the NDP candidate for the upcoming byelection in Charlottetown-Winsloe. - Stu Neatby
Lynne Thiele is the NDP candidate for the upcoming byelection in Charlottetown-Winsloe. - Stu Neatby



Safe voting guidelines

Voters hoping to meet candidates on their porch may be in for a disappointment. 

Guidelines posted online Tuesday from the Chief Public Health Office have discouraged door-to-door canvassing by candidates. Representatives of all four parties have said they would abide by public health guidelines.

Paul Alan, manager of election operations for Elections P.E.I., said polling locations will be equipped with Plexiglass screens for poll workers. Extra cleaning staff will be hired to disinfect voting booth after every ballot is marked.

Paul Alan is the manager of operations and communications for Elections P.E.I.
Paul Alan is the manager of operations and communications for Elections P.E.I.

"It will be virtually a no-contact voting location," Alan said.

Stickers will be placed on the ground to ensure physical distancing, and separate entrances and exits will be labelled for voters. The use of face masks will be encouraged.

Alan said Elections P.E.I. will also be encouraging mail-in voting by local residents. A mail-in ballot registration form can be downloaded from the Elections P.E.I. website. Voters are encouraged to fill it out, take a picture of their ID with the form and email the image back to Elections P.E.I. 

"If anybody is at all concerned about going out, they have that option," Alan said.

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