P.E.I. voters elect Liberal Leader Robert Ghiz
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Monday, May 28, 2007 8:48PM EDT
P.E.I. voters braved the rain Monday to elect 33-year-old Liberal Leader Robert Ghiz as Canada's youngest-serving premier, ending the 11-year Progressive Conservative government of Pat Binns.
The Liberals have won or are leading in 23 seats while the Progressive Conservatives look to secure the remaining four.
The results are a complete reversal of the standings at the time of the legislature's dissolution, when the Liberals had just four seats and the Tories had 23.
Ghiz now follows in the footsteps of his father, former premier Joe Ghiz, a Harvard-educated lawyer of Lebanese descent who led the Island from 1986 to 1993.
"We never really talked about me getting into politics," said Ghiz.
"He died during the '96 campaign. ... That was when we really started to bond and he passed away a couple of weeks later."
The young Liberal leader has called his father's legacy both a burden and a blessing. He told The Canadian Press that comparisons between the two are "something I have to live with."
A poll conducted by Corporate Research Associates for the Island's Guardian newspaper had projected the Liberals would win 18 seats.
Paul MacNeil, of the Island's Eastern Graphic newspaper, slammed the poll for taking focus away from the campaign's main political issues.
"We had a lovely debate going across the Island, but the poll changed everything," MacNeil told CTV's Mike Duffy Live. "Suddenly, it became a horse-race story rather than an issues story."
Binns, 58, had told supporters that if his Progressive Conservative party won, his fourth term in office would be his last.
But as the results arrived and it became clear he had been handed a major defeat, Binns urged his supporters to remember his government's legacy.
"Let's celebrate our past success and remember we were the longest surviving Progressive Conservative government in the history of Prince Edward Island," he said.
"Do not despair. We have made Prince Edward Island a better place. We will go down in history and our party will rise again."
Turnout was reportedly high among the Island's almost 98,000 eligible voters, despite bouts of rain. The province's population is 137,000.
With files from The Canadian Press