PEIs election is next week. It could be historic.

The Big Story


To what happens in Prince Edward Island. And I'm willing to bet that if pressed many of you would admit the same thing that needs to change there's an election next week and Canada's smallest province and some of the polls are well. They would make history if they turned out to be true liberal leader. Wade McLaughlin, set the vote for April twenty third, and according to the polls this election could produce Canada's first green party government to years ago. They had the support of nine percent of voters by last year. They'd risen to eighteen percent before bounding to thirty eight percent. This fall topping all other parties, including the governing liberals. A real possibility of the first green party government in Canada is reason enough to tune our ears to the island. But there is a lot more to today. That is probably a scape. The notice of Canadians beyond the east coast right now, most of us know PI from the beautiful way that it's sold to tourists, and that's lovely. And I wanna go there. But it does seem like we need to know a little bit more. Jordan, heath Rawlings. And this is the big story. Trevor corkum is a writer at the walrus and the global mail. He splits his time between Toronto and Prince Edward Island. Trevor how much attention does candidate usually pay to elections in PE. I not very much. I mean, I think most people aren't even aware when there is an election. I wasn't until about two weeks ago. Yeah. Exactly. But this is a nail biter, and it's has a chance to make history. So this is when people wanna watch what's going on there right now. So it's been an interesting landscape the liberals have been in power for twelve years. So since two thousand and seven and traditionally PE, I like a lot of the maritime provinces. But especially in PE, I the elections have alternated between the conservatives and the liberals before twenty fifteen only one other member from one other party had ever been elected in the history of PI elections, and that was one end EP. Member back in the nineties. What's happened is the green party has risen in the pools. And they're now leading so they've come from not quite out of nowhere. But in the last few years, they've really ramped up their popularity and in the last four out of five pools they've been leading the liberals it's a bit of a three way race, but the the greens look like they may be pulling out of the bag. What's going on in PI in general that would lead to this kind of change election because this is unprecedented in Canadian provincial politics? Anyway, it is. Yeah. There been a lot of interesting indicator. So PI people have this idea of PI being a bucolic rural place a place that's a little bit stuck in time. You know, a lot of our the advertising campaigns on the island of really played this. It's kind of a place where you go down home. You go to the beach. You have some good food. Everyone's very friendly. And that's all still true to a certain case. But immigration is one thing that's changed in the last few years. So. The population of PI's always been pretty low. But it's lead the country immigration in the last couple of years, so very robust immigration, which has led to strengthening of the economy. So PI's lead the country in a number of economic indicators GDP growth housing starts. I saw something today in the paper that said housing prices have jumped twenty percent in one year on the island. So you're you're seeing that traditional island also dealing with a lot of big city issues like housing like the economy like this growing inequality between people who can afford, those changes and people who can't. So the green party's been able to capitalize a little bit on some of the unease with specifically the economic situation in the inequality also number of people have moved to buy from other parts of the country. So the province has become a little bit younger than the other provinces in Atlantic Canada. And it's really that youth vote in a way that's open to these new ways of doing things. So. So a large number of people under forty have kind of broken the tradition of voting for either the liberals or the conservatives which for a lot of families have gone back literally hundreds of years, where if you are a certain family, you voted conservative were another family you voted liberal, and that's all just splintering away. Give me an example, because I'm kind of fascinated by what you said about how we perceive PI, thanks to the tourism commercials. Because I know that that is my main source of of images of p give me an example of what you see on the island today that you'd have no idea of. Yeah. I mean, there are a number of things I think if you're in Charlottetown one of the things that strikes you first off is the diversity of the population. So there's people have been moving their from literally all over the world. So the school board, for example, we'll give out notices to parents in multiple languages because of the diversity of the classrooms, and at amazing selection of ethnic restaurants from the Middle East from Asia. South America, Afghanistan, Syria restaurants that you'd expect to finance Ron or Montreal. But not in a city of forty thousand people Charlottetown has two mosques, for example that both been built over the last ten years. So it's an it's actually a very cosmopolitan small city. So those are just a few things you see sort of on the surface. How did the green party come to be leading the polls? Yeah. You know? It's very interesting because the green parties, I think in Canada, especially provincially have this reputation of being a little bit of the fringe party, you know, the party of older hippies and and of peace love and grooving us on. And I think increasingly elsewhere, they straddle a very interesting part of the spectrum where the greens have NPR have been very pragmatic, so they've emphasized fiscal responsibility. So balancing budgets, in addition to growing, social and an environmental programs. So if you look at the population of pediatric. You know, there are a lot of older people. And as I said a lot of growing younger people. So those are kind of the two poles of the population that I think have driven part of this this interest and the green party, I think we're seeing around the country and N P I this splintering of the traditional left right parties. People are looking for new alternatives, and the greens have been able to capitalize on that on ease with the way things of always been done. If we drilled down a bit on as with other maritime provinces very much the case in PI. There's been this real sense of this kind of old boys network or backroom deals being done in things like, you know, who's getting loans that kind of thing there've been a number of big cases in the last ten to fifteen years on scandals with the liberal party that of really disillusioned people with the way things are done. So in general time, they would then just switch their vote to the conservative party. But they conservatives on P, I have really had a tough. Time they've had six liters and six years they really haven't been going anywhere quickly. So the greens have capitalized on that on ease. But have also really tailored their programs to both rural islanders, and then people in the cities as well. Tell me a little bit about the leadership dynamics and play who's the leader of the liberal party, who's the leader of the greens. So the leader of the liberals I mean, in a way, they're they're puller opposite. So the current premier Wade McLaughlin is the former president of UPI he comes from a very well established island family. They're very well known. They've been political family for many years, he inherited the party or didn't inherit the party, but became the leader in twenty fifty and after Robert gives resigned after a scandal in government, and he did win a majority government at that time, but he seen as a little bit aloof two islanders. So he's got that university president energy around him. So people. Say, you know, we really like Wade, but they don't really warm to him. He doesn't have a lot of natural charisma. So for the last three years, the leader of the green party, Peter Bevan Baker has been a foreign head. The preferred choice of of premier for islanders and the support of the green party has kind of incrementally grown based on his own personal leadership. So he was he's someone who I would call an anti politician. He's just suggest an average guy. He's he's an emigrant from Scotland he came into a couple of decades ago. He was a former dentist who bought an old church in rural PE, I converted into cafe had his dental practice on the side. He plays the trumpet. He's a storyteller and people just really warm to him. He's very authentic, and he's the kind of person who you know, you just to stop and chat to on the street. The kind of person who had a fundraising event will be the first one up dancing is. Unafraid to kind of poke fun at himself. So that's something that really appeals to people on the island. How difficult would it be to translate? Some of what the green party has seen NPA I to a national level. I mean, we've talked a lot on this podcast about the the upcoming federal election. And certainly the left is in kind of a state of disarray in general. So there is an opportunity there. How can they take what they've done there and build it? Yeah. It's tricky based on our current electoral system. But I think a couple of kind of lessons that they've learned from their other provincial successes. You know, we know the grants of won their first seat until and Guelleh's. They won three seats and the New Brunswick election. I think the New Brunswick cases interesting because they won in downtown Fredericton writing. So very urban writing they won in the riding around mount Allison university, so small university town, and then they want a very rural northern New Brunswick riding, so. So they were able to appeal both to kind of a very local grassroots kind of rural population. People in rural communities who are worried about jobs and the rural economy, and they were able to appeal to people at universities younger students and then urban people of the urban left. And I think that's a coalition that if I were Elizabeth may I I would wanna try to emulate, and I think we see in the B C election and the seats they won there in the seats that they're targeting at the federal level that it looks like that's that's the formula. They're looking to repeat so really targeting some of the urban writings, especially on the west coast where maybe the end EP is done. Well, traditionally the liberals, but they're flagging a bit. Some of the the more rural ridings that tend to be around left leaning cities or left leaning region. So the country and then pockets were there strong youth populations like around universities. So all that to say is I don't think this if. If the green stew, and it's going to translate in a green victory at the federal level. But you know, we know that in the case of PI New Brunswick winning the first seat, then leads to a couple of seats. And then you know, who knows where it goes. So based on the current splintering and fragmentation across Canada, you know, we don't really know what's going to happen. But we do know that people are open to new ideas. What kind of new ideas are in the platform N P? So as I said, it's a it's an interesting mix because there's a real mix of pragmatism with some very forward thinking idea. So on the forward thinking side they've made a commitment to making the province carbon neutral by twenty forty five so investing in small loans to homes and small businesses for things like solar panels electric vehicles. They've said that they will provide loans to rural small businesses and entrepreneurs to

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