Premier hints at spring election as PEI PCs start nomination season

About 150 people attended Thursday night's meeting, which Premier Dennis King described as the start of the candidate nomination season.  (Rick Gibbs/CBC - photo credit)

About 150 people attended Thursday night’s meeting, which Premier Dennis King described as the start of the candidate nomination season. (Rick Gibbs/CBC – photo credit)

While there is no call for the PEI provincial elections yet, the nomination season is now under way for the parties and their candidates.

The first nominating meeting for the ruling Progressive Conservatives was held in Summerside on Thursday night when Councilwoman Barb Ramsay received the party’s approval for the nomination at 22 Summerside-South Drive.

About 150 people were in attendance, including local councillors, current and former Mayors of Summerside, Provincial Cabinet Ministers Dan Kutcher and Basil Stewart, and former Conservative Federal Minister and MP Gail Shea.

The district is currently held by Green MLA Steve Howard, who on Thursday afternoon announced his intention to run again in the next provincial election.

Rick Gibbs/CBC

Rick Gibbs/CBC

Ramsay is the first officially nominated candidate in 2023 among the four major parties. Before her was Dr. Herb Dickieson, who received the NDP nomination in District 25 O’Leary-Inverness last November.

Following Ramsay’s nomination, there will be a spate of nomination meetings from all parties in the coming weeks.

In the last month alone, about 30 people from the four parties have announced their intention to run, and more are making statements every day. The parties are also using their social media pages to announce nomination dates, many of which are coming soon.

There has been much speculation in recent months as to whether King will call spring elections or stick to the October 2, 2023 election date. Three of the last four provincial elections have been held in spring, including the last two in a row (2015 and 2019).

PEI holds elections every four years. Four years is April so I think all parties are getting ready. – Prime Minister Dennis King

Premier Dennis King was at the nominations meeting in Summerside on Thursday night, exactly four years to the day since he became party leader.

He had the following to say about the election date: “At PEI we have elections every four years. Four years is April, so I think all parties are preparing for it.

“April is a time when we usually have elections to the PEI, but my job, as I continue to say…is just to try to do what I can to help the PEI move forward. That’s my main focus. The party is working hard on nominations for Be Ready, so if we’re going to call an election and need to have an election, we’re ready to go.”

“Clues keep getting louder and clearer”

Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker said on Friday the party already suspected that spring elections could be called and had been preparing for some time.

“We all know it’s coming,” he said. “Clues grow louder and clearer.”

We are preparing. Districts are cheered. People are very optimistic. – Sharon Cameron

Bevan-Baker said his party’s platform is “fairly complete” and expensive.

Liberal leader Sharon Cameron, who will run against Bevan-Baker in District 17 New Haven-Rocky Point, called out the prime minister while announcing her party’s readiness to vote.

“We have a prime minister who, over time, has made repeated commitments to the October election date set and then broken that promise,” Cameron said.

“We are preparing. The districts are cheered. People are very optimistic and a wind of change is blowing. The energy shifts a bit.”

“Without knowing the day, that’s the challenge”

For PEI elections, an election call means the immediate mobilization of the 27 electoral offices

“Without knowing the day, that’s the challenge,” said Tim Garrity, PEI’s chief electoral officer. “We need to book locations, we need to book office space for our return offices.”

Shane Hennessey/CBC

Shane Hennessey/CBC

Once the prime minister goes to the lieutenant governor to formally request the dissolution of the current legislature, the electoral process begins. The afternoon or evening when orders are issued means quick steps for Elections PEI, Garrity said, as all 27 return offices must be open by 9 a.m. the next morning.

Early elections bad for diversity?

The executive director of the PEI coalition for women in government, Sweta Daboo, said it would be much better for democracy and potential candidates if prime ministers stick to fixed election dates.

Shane Hennessey/CBC

Shane Hennessey/CBC

“We know that early elections are bad for attracting a multitude of candidates and just for democracy in general,” Daboo said.

“We know that young people in particular are disadvantaged because they have to quit their jobs for the election campaign and have to take unpaid leave.”

PCs are “really excited”

As of Friday night, the PCs had 18 people who had publicly stated their intention to run; the Greens had five; the Liberals had five; and the NDP five.

All candidates must first be nominated in their district. Most nominations tend to be uncontested, as was the case with Ramsay at Summerside.

Cody MacKay/CBC

Cody MacKay/CBC

PC Party President Sydney Gallant said there was a lot of energy in the room going into the provincial elections.

“This is really just the beginning of an exciting time for our party in the province,” she said.

There are still many nominations to come in the coming weeks, but Gallant said the PCs have no set date for when the party wants a full list of 27 full nominees.

“We’re all really looking forward to it,” she said. “Premier King has made it pretty clear it’s going to be some time in 2023, so we’re operating from there.”


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