Voters in Prince Edward Island elect minority government amid tight race

The final outcome remaines unclear amid a tight electoral race

NDP Leader Joe Byrne, left to right, Progressive Conservative Leader Dennis King, Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker and Liberal Leader Wade MacLauchlan pose for a photo at the provincial leaders debate at the Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside, P.E.I. on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

Voters in P.E.I. have shed their century-old embrace of the Island’s two-party system by electing a minority government, but the final outcome remained unclear amid a tight electoral race that saw the Tories holding a slim lead over the Greens.

Less than two hours after the polls closed Tuesday, the Tories were leading and elected in 12 ridings, the Greens had pulled into second place with nine and the incumbent Liberals were in third with five.

READ MORE: PEI Green party candidate Josh Underhay and son killed in canoeing accident

The Greens had led in opinion polls since August, which led to speculation they could be poised to upend the two-party tradition and form Canada’s first Green government.

Progressive Conservative Leader Dennis King, a former political staffer and consultant, was elected to lead the party only two months ago. He won the riding of Brackley-Hunter River.

The Tories enjoyed a boost in the polls last month, leaving them in a virtual dead heat with the Greens and Liberals as the campaign ended.

Led by Scottish-born dentist Peter Bevan-Baker, the Greens’ rise in popularity generated a national buzz during an otherwise lacklustre campaign.

During the race, Bevan-Baker tried to persuade Islanders that the Greens care about more than just the environment, offering a platform that focused on a range of social issues.

The Green leader, who was elected to the legislature as the first Green member in 2015, won his riding of New Haven-Rocky Point.

The Liberals, under Premier Wade MacLauchlan, were seeking a fourth term in office, having repeatedly reminded Islanders that the province’s economy remains the strongest in the country.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say P.E.I. is on a tear, posting impressive numbers for higher wages, employment, immigration, housing starts, exports, retail sales and tourism.

However, voters appeared reluctant to give MacLauchlan credit for boosting the economy, a sentiment that was reflected in his relatively low personal popularity ratings.

The Island’s New Democrats, led by 57-year-old Joe Byrne, were not in contention in any ridings.

When the legislature was dissolved, the Liberals held 16 seats in the 27-seat legislature, the Tories had eight and the Green party had two seats. There was one Independent.

A total of 14 seats are needed for a majority, but only 26 of the 27 seats will be contested.

On Saturday, Elections P.E.I. postponed the vote in the district of Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park following the deaths of Green party candidate, Josh Underhay, and his young son in a boating mishap on the Hillsborough River.

A byelection will be held in the riding within the next three months.

Aside from the election outcome, voters will also learn the results of a binding referendum on electoral reform, which will determine if Islanders want to keep the first-past-the-post system or change to a mixed member proportional representation model.

Kevin Bissett and Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ucluelet releases COVID-19 Recovery Plan

Part of the recovery plan involves deploying three district staff as COVID-19 Community Monitors

Tofino mayor urges “kindness” as tourism reopens

“Health and safety matters to everyone.”

Resorts in Tofino and Ucluelet prepare to reopen in June

“We need to get the tourist economy in our communities back up and running.”

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve plans limited reopening on June 4

The Park Reserve shut down on March 18 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Pacific Rim Hospice Society gifting free wellness “check-ins” to all West Coast residents

“This pandemic has led to a lot of isolation and it’s helpful for anybody just to have a soundboard.”

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

Most Read