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RICK MACLEAN: Could two elections be any more different?

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King is looking for a majority in the Nov. 2 District 10 byelection, but whoever wins will probably not affect world history like the election the following day.
P.E.I. Premier Dennis King is looking for a majority in the Nov. 2 District 10 byelection, but whoever wins will probably not affect world history like the election the following day. - SaltWire Network

Two elections, one day apart. One will affect world history. One will … probably not. But it will make quite a difference. Here.

The Nov. 3 election is the U.S. election. It will select the next president of the United States. Given the well-past-bizarre behaviour of the current holder of that office, there’s lots of attention headed its way.

Donald Trump has been slammed for his behaviour by friends, family and … oh right, he doesn’t have any friends, only people who can do things for him, like loan him money, or tell him he’s the greatest (you can fill the blank here) in the world.

That election has been nasty even by U.S. standards, which is saying something.

The consensus greatest American president was Abraham Lincoln, the one who freed the slaves. It was a big deal. He had to run for office in 1864 during the American Civil War, caused by that big deal.

Lincoln was called, by various people during that election, a “filthy story-teller, despot, liar, thief, braggart, buffoon, ursurper, monster, Ignoramus Abe, Old Scoundrel, perjurer, swindler, tyrant, field-butcher and land-pirate,” according to one collector of such fun facts.

And those came from critics in the north, his side in the war.

Today, such a list would be Trump’s first tweet of the day, and he’d aim it at his friends who didn’t do something he wanted, like violate the Constitution.

Cannot imagine P.E.I. Premier Dennis King doing that.

True, he did offer a verbal middle finger to COVID-19, which promptly found its way onto a T-shirt, but the shirt didn’t complain, and neither did the voters, so no harm, no foul.

But on Nov. 2 the province heads to the polls to pick a new MLA for Charlottetown-Winsloe, a byelection set off by long-time Liberal MLA Robert Mitchell retiring.

Normally, a byelection, even among election-loving Islanders, would hardly be big news. And so far it has been a quiet – and polite – affair. But the result could have a significant impact on P.E.I. politics.

If the Progressive Conservatives win, they jump from 13 seats in the provincial legislature to 14. That’s their happy place, because it’s majority government territory in a 27-seat legislature.

The Tories won 12 seats on election night, two short of the promised land. But the vote in District 9 was postponed due to a tragedy, and they won that seat just over two months later.

Now they can finish the job.

True, there is the complication that one of the party’s seats belongs Colin LaVie, and he’s the speaker, so he can only vote to break a tie. But details, details.

There’s certainly a chance a Liberal might win District 10 again. Or the Greens might scoop it up. But District 9 seemed a shoe-in for the Greens until the Tories won the election. When District 9 voters saw that, they hopped on board and got a cabinet minister for their troubles.

People like being on the winning side.

If The Tories win Nov. 2, the chances of another provincial election might fade into the distance. King could relax, be premier for a full four years, then go to the polls, knowing Islanders like two-term governments.

The Greens might like that idea too. They won eight seats on the coat-tails of leader Peter Bevan-Baker. Another two years of on-the-job learning while earning good money wouldn’t hurt their sizeable band of rookie MLAs.

The Liberals? They’re in the political woodshed after three terms in power. They know the game. They’ll be there for awhile. No point trying to rush things. And the NDP? Well, there’s always next time.

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

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1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

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