Seven things to know about the P.E.I. election results
Published Tuesday, April 23, 2019 10:08PM EDT
Prince Edward Islanders voted Tuesday in an election that pollsters had predicted would make history.
They were right, in a sense – just not in the way they had envisioned.
Here are seven storylines we watched on election night, how they unfurled, and what they may mean for the province going forward.
1) Minority government: P.E.I.’s Liberals and Conservatives have traded the Legislative Assembly back and forth since Confederation, but almost always with majority governments. Until Tuesday night, the province hadn’t seen an election result in a minority government since 1890, when the two parties split the province’s 30 seats evenly.
2) Green hopes overblown: Polls had been suggesting P.E.I. would become the first province in Canada to elect a Green government – perhaps even a majority. That failed to pass, but the Greens did pick up more than 30 per cent of the popular vote and increase their MLA count from two to nine. With the PCs holding 12 seats and the Liberals five, Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker and his party will surely play a major role in the province’s politics in the near future. Until Tuesday, Bevan-Baker (2015) and former NDP MLA Herb Dickieson (1996) were the only MLAs elected in a P.E.I. general election from outside the Liberal and Conservative parties since 1876.
3) MacLauchlan out: Liberal leader Wade MacLauchlan went into Tuesday having been the premier since 2015 and at the helm of a party that had been in power since 2007. He ended it failing to even hold onto his seat, losing the Stanhope-Marshfield district to PC challenger Bloyce Thompson by 104 votes.
4) One seat empty: Voting was postponed in the district of Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park following the death of Green candidate Josh Underhay in a canoeing accident. A byelection will take place by July 19 to fill the seat, although it appears no result will alter the balance of power in the legislature.
5) Where are the women?: The province that gave Canada its first elected female premier didn’t seem quite as interested in sending women to the legislature this time around. Of the 12 elected PC candidates, only Darlene Compton in Belfast-Murray River is female. Four of the nine Green victors are male, as are all five elected Liberals.
6) No electoral reform: P.E.I. voters were also determining whether the province should switch its electoral system from first-past-the-post to mixed-member-proportional, a form of proportional representation. Although voters expressed support for making the switch in a majority of districts, the referendum fell short of the 17-district threshold it needed to clear
7) MacKay beats MacKay: In an unusual twist, the top two vote-getters in Kensington-Malpeque both have the same name. Matthew MacKay held his seat for the PCs with 2,008 votes, handily beating Green challenger Matthew J. MacKay and his 805 votes. The MacKays figured most voters wouldn’t be confused by their names, because they both know most of the district’s approximately 4,000 residents anyhow.