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How to be Great in Office

In my time on Parliament Hill, I was blessed to get to see and experience many things. But along with the good and amazing came the rough, stressful, difficult and bad. I got to work for four amazing MPs in my time, but as the way thing is in life, we all have bad days, bad weeks and struggles that we face. The point I guess I’m trying to make here is that many people sometimes forget about the human side of elected officials. At least, that’s what came to mind for me when I saw a series of tweets come across my Twitter feed yesterday that just really rubbed me the wrong way, and frankly left me upset. Here is the series in question:

This all started with a tweet from journalist Emma Graney, quoting the soon-to-be Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney as he addressed his new caucus. His message was, in that tweet, was pretty clear. That brought a response from now former Alberta MLA Robyn Luff, who left the NDP caucus on unhappy terms. She makes a very good comment, one that I wish more people would; yes, you can be in elected politics and still have a life. You don’t have to put everything aside, you don’t have to ignore your family, you don’t have to put the job above all else. Yes, it’s more difficult and it takes a lot of extra planning and will to make it work, but not only can it be done, it’s a good thing to do. You can be an MLA, MPP, MHA or MP, and not miss every birthday, anniversary and watch your relationships go to crap.

That brought a response from Karri Flatla, who was defeated as a UCP candidate in Lethbridge-West by New Democrat Shannon Philips. She responds with what I would flat out call a cheap shot at the work ethic of people she doesn’t know, while putting a dangerous fallacy out there. Yes, it does take sacrifice and hard work to achieve great things; all elected people know that and all make major sacrifices, as to do their families. But there is a difference between making sacrifices and sacrificing your entire life and family; you don’t need to sacrifice to that level to be a great MLA and you don’t need to sacrifice to that level to achieve great things.

Further to that, she insinuates that somehow that only “free enterprisers” make sacrifices or work hard. I’m sure that would come as a shock to Ms. Flatla’s former teachers, who I’m sure spent hundreds of hours working after the bell rang each year to ensure that she could become a successful realtor. The same would go for the police, fire fighters and paramedics that serve her community, ensuring that she’s safe while they miss holidays and important dates with their families, all so she can thrive and be better. I would argue that many of those people wouldn’t qualify as those “free enterprisers” that she was referring to. I could go on, but I personally find it amazingly insulting to hear someone who wanted to serve her community make such a wide, judging comment about the people who live in her city and province, as is somehow “free enterprisers” are inherently better people. I could go on, but thankfully New Democrat MLA Heather Sweet did that already in the chain of tweets above.

The reason why this whole situation bothered me and got under                my skin is because I know that some of those coming in from the outside, new to elected politics, take the same view as Ms. Flatla. They come into the political arena and think that in order to do so, all of those other things must go or if that they really want to succeed, you must put all of those things like family and loved ones on the altar as a sacrifice to the political gods. That is just crap, pure and simple.

But just because it doesn’t have to be that way, doesn’t mean it is easy for politicians or their staff. Working on the Hill for a decade, you see many marriages or relationships fail, families get hurt and the stress of the job and the family sacrifices creating extremely unhealthy situations. Over a decade ago, TVO’s Steve Paikin wrote a great book called “The Dark Side”, that dove right into this topic. When I’ve worked with candidates in the past, I’ve leant them my copy so they could read it and hopefully learn the importance of that work-life balance in politics.

There have been many conversations in the political arena over the past two years about stress, work-life balance and trying to find a better way of doing politics in that way. Comments like those from Ms. Flatla just ignore all of those issues and act as if it’s some kind of character flaw or a lack of will to “do what must be done”. That is just all kinds of BS, and I don’t think that can’t be said loudly enough. If that is the message that Jason Kenney’s caucus is receiving about how it must be, that’s not a good sign for his caucus, their staff or the province in my humble opinion.

And to finish on a clear point here, for me this is not a partisan issue; it just so happens that the players in this story have the partisan affiliations that they have. In my time on Parliament Hill, I’ve seen MPs like Jim Flaherty, Gord Brown, Jim Hillyer and Jack Layton all pass away in office. In all cases, I was saddened when it happened, as despite our partisan differences, we were all there trying to serve our communities to our best. While all of these gentlemen passed in different circumstances, they all went before their time and some have opined about the effect of the stress of this job on their health. So having lived it up close and personal for a decade, I’ll admit it pisses me off when I see comments like the ones above. I haven’t seen it but I’d hope that Ms. Flatla and by extension, others reading this story, will walk away with the message that you can go into politics, you can serve in the House of Commons, a Legislature or a City Hall, and you don’t have to sacrifice it all in order to do it. I have my fingers crossed because the sooner we dispel this notion that Ms. Flatla put out there, the better off our whole political system will be.


The Buck Stops…. Somewhere, Right???

In the weeks since the first Ford Ontario Conservative budget, we’ve been seeing a steady drip of stories coming out about cut after cut after cut. These stories have brought out levels of frustration and consternation the likes of while Ontario hasn’t seen since the Harris years. A couple of days ago we heard about another such cut, one that had a lot of people shaking their heads for various reasons:

Trees. Yep, the next thing on the chopping block is the planting of trees. How much did that save the people of Ontario? $4.7 million. Yeah, that’s it. In the scheme of the massive Ontario budget, that is a drop in the bucket, but it was a drop that helped to plant trees in places where forests were long lost, to help sequester more carbon and to help further mitigate flooding around rivers and lakes. It seemed like a very noble program, and a wise and productive use of money; little money in, but big benefit out.

So why do this? Why do something that will lead to more erosion in flood zones, poorer air and water quality, warmer lakes and streams without forest cover to shade them, less wildlife habitat and less capacity to sequester carbon? Well the Ford Conservatives replied to that by saying the forestry industry plants 68 million trees per year, which is true. The Forestry sector does plant that many trees every year, to replace the trees that they have harvested. It’s called sound sylvicultural practices, something that the forestry sector is well known for. But folks, those trees serve a different purpose than that 50 million that the Ford Conservatives just cut. Those trees were not for harvesting, they were for that long list of things I just wrote above. Is the Ford Government suggesting that this is why they are doing this? That the forestry sector will pick that up instead? I think that would be news to the sector if that was the case.

But folks, this story just gets more and more confusing the more you look into it. Do you know where the idea for this 50 Million Tree Program came from? Well, that’s a twist that makes this all the more confusing:

Yep, this idea was the brainchild of Conservative MPP Ted Arnott, who is now the Speaker of the Ontario Legislature. And it wasn’t just his idea, it was of a motion that Mr. Arnott brought forward in the last legislature and was passed unanimously by the place. Yeah, this was a Conservative environmental initiative, that cost very little and was getting big results, that got the axe. You’d think that the Conservatives would be pointing at this as an example of how they can be good on the environment, how they can help reduce GHG emissions and be better stewards of the land. You’d think that Doug Ford would want to plaster this as a “For the People” example getting things done. Well it’s funny to mention what Mr. Ford motivations might have been because……

Wow everyone, that is a wild and crazy story. That thread is an amazing yet freaky insight into the operation of this government and the Premier’s office. Sure the he “never promises anything 100%” line is a whopper of one given some of the very clear promises and statements he made on the campaign trail about not one single job being lost, but lets look past that for a moment to that part that focuses specifically on the tree funding. He openly admitting to a citizen who called him on his personal cell phone out of the blue that he had no idea about this story, that he didn’t hear about it until he read it in the media. Then he supposedly called his office and his staff told him his talking points. That’s all kinds of insane. He then went on to make the same admission around legal aide cuts.

But everyone, there is a serious question to be asked here: who in the Hell is running the Government of Ontario? If we are to take this at its word, there are major decisions that are being made by somebody in government without the Premier having a clue about them until it hits the media, let alone having a hand in the decision making. It’s either that or he was telling a lie to this person in an attempt to try to protect himself. Either way, this is a seriously bad look on this Premier, government and province. That leaves us having to ask the serious question about who is really running the Good Ship PC at Queen’s Park. Is it the Premier’s staff? Is it certain ministers? We can’t say for sure but the fact that we’re even able to realistically question it is a bad thing.

And to top it all off for folks on the national scene, remember right now Doug Ford is one of the provincial Premiers leading Andrew Scheer around by the nose, as he falls in line with whatever strategy that those provincial leaders come up with. How does it look for the Federal Conservative leader to be led around by a guy who seems to not even be in charge of running his own government that he was elected to lead? Yikes man, this is insane and far from a good look.

So, with this story we have seen bad decisions with no rationale and all seemingly without the knowledge of the person ultimately responsible for it all: Wow, welcome to 2019 in Ontario. Strap in folks because this ride keeps getting crazier and crazier.

With Friends Like These….

Now that the Alberta election has passed, the eyes of most of the Canadian political scene are looking towards this falls Federal Election as the next big political event to hit our country. And while there will be many issues that will be at play in that campaign, one of the biggest going into the campaign will be around carbon pricing. Ontario and Saskatchewan have already started court cases against the Federal government to fight it (even though it is clearly in Federal jurisdiction) and yesterday Manitoba did the same, kicking off their own court case. When he is sworn in, the next Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney has vowed to do the same, along with other things that unfortunately won’t do anything to help the actual problem. There is also the Conservative Government in New Brunswick, who is taking part too. And of course, there is also Federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, who seems to be following their leads down a path that he doesn’t seem to control.

But for all you can say about the futility of this flurry of court action, you can say that to date these leaders have at least looked like a unified opposition to the Trudeau Liberals. Heck they even had this memorably photoshoot, remember?

Ahhh yes, “The resistance”, standing together to fight against carbon pricing, come Hell or high water. This isn’t the first time in Canada’s history that we’ve seen a group or gang of provincial Premiers get together around an issue and fight against the Federal government. Heck, I would say it is damn near a Canadian tradition. But something that is equally as tradition as such a coalition forming is that same group falling apart, torn asunder by each partners own political interests. To date, “The resistance” has managed to avoid that fate, but that might be changing, as CBC’s Aaron Wherry pointed to today:

I really recommend reading this piece, because it’s a good analysis of the Ford Conservatives arguments that they are making before the courts. Their argument is very simple: Hey, Ontario has already done a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to reducing GHG’s, we’ve done our part, so why should we be forced to do relatively more than other provinces. That is an interesting argument, despite the fact that it is built on the work of the past Liberal government and their policies, the same ones that Ford and crew railed against and have actually started to undo. Can you really take credit for policies and ideas that you ran against and have actually eliminated since getting elected? That is an existential argument for another day. But for today, this is where we are. And hey, Ontario even provided the court with this hand graph to help make their point:

Source: Government of Ontario

Look at that; Ontario’s GHG’s going down, while the “Rest of Canada” is much higher and lowering at a slower rate while still being much higher overall. But as Wherry points out in the piece, that “Rest of Canada” figure is a bit deceiving, as he describes here:

“Between 2006 and 2017, Ontario actually was one of six provinces to reduce its emissions. And two provinces achieved even steeper cuts: Nova Scotia managed a reduction of 33 per cent and New Brunswick’s emissions fell by 28 per cent. The other three provinces where emissions declined were Quebec (9.8 per cent), British Columbia (1.5 per cent) and Prince Edward Island (10 per cent).
In total, those five provinces reduced their cumulative emissions by 22 Mt.
So when the Ford government says emissions have increased in the “Rest of Canada,” it’s ultimately talking about just four provinces: Newfoundland, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Of those four, Newfoundland and Manitoba saw relatively small increases. In 2005, Newfoundland produced 9.9 Mt of emissions. In 2017, the province’s emissions were 11 Mt. Manitoba went from 20 Mt to 22 Mt.
The more significant spikes were further west. In Saskatchewan, emissions grew by 14 per cent, from 68 Mt to 78 Mt. In Alberta, emissions went from 231 Mt to 273 Mt, an increase of 18 per cent. Measured in megatonnes, Alberta’s increase (42 Mt) was nearly as large as Ontario’s drop (45 Mt).”

As Wherry points out, when we talk about the rest of Canada, you are really talking about two provinces who have the biggest lift ahead; Alberta and Saskatchewan. As he pointed out, Alberta’s increase in emissions is nearly the same size as the amount that Ontario’s has dropped by. That’s significant and if you follow Ford’s line of reasoning, why should Ontario keep going lower while other provinces aren’t doing their part? Isn’t that kind of Toronto subsidizing Calgary? Yep folks, that’s a big crack in this relationship.

So, lets follow this argument from the Ford Government to its conclusion; if it was accepted, yes that would spare Ontario a bigger carbon tax bill, but taking that approach would cripple Alberta and Saskatchewan, which in turn would hurt Ontario’s economy along with the rest of the country. I wonder how Ford’s friends Kenney and Moe feel about Dougie throwing them under the newly-acquired TTC bus? Probably not so cheery.

The amazing thing about Ontario’s argument before the court is that it actually makes the Trudeau plan look better and more reasonable. In this light, the Liberal plan looks like it’s trying to distribute the load more evenly, while trying to protect industry in Alberta and Saskatchewan. And on top of that, the most generous recipients of the Carbon Tax Rebates that will be coming will be going to…. tada!!!! Alberta and Saskatchewan! It’s almost as if the plan was created to account for the fact that this would be harder for those provinces, therefore they would need more help. That almost seems how a federation is supposed to work instead of being a loose collection of provinces.

All in all, I’m surprised by this turn of events but not totally shocked. After going to all this trouble to mount these legal cases I would have figured that at least they would have compared notes before stepping into the court room, to at least make sure that they weren’t knifing each other in the back. But either that wasn’t the case here (which would be sloppy) or they did and ignored it, instead pursuing their own direct personal interest (which would be a betrayal to other members of “The resistance”).

This turn of events must make the Federal government smile a bit as it now seems, to borrow a phrase we’ve heard before in Canadian politics, “the cat is among the pigeons”. I’m sure that Ontario’s position will go over so very well in Edmonton and Regina because it’s coming from a friend, right? This might be part of the reason why the expected next Conservative Premier of Prince Edward Island has decided to stay out of any carbon tax court fights. It will be interesting to see how these dueling court battles play out and how these court cases run into each other and cause each other trouble. But hey, with friends like these who needs enemies, right?

“Managing the Problem”

The House of Commons is currently on it’s last big break before they rise for the Summer. After that, when the Fall comes, the writ will drop and the 43rd General Election will start. So many MPs are making good use of this time, getting to events and being out there. So when an MP or two is scheduled to give a keynote speech at a major regional event on a week like this, it really shouldn’t jump out at anyone. Yet today there was such a speech given at such an event that was given by two MPs, one that rightfully drew a lot of attention and spoke volumes beyond the words that they spoke:

The scene that took place in Richmond, at the meeting of the B.C. First Nations Justice Council, was something to behold. It was full of respect, full of sacred ceremony and also full of strong messages of truth, truths that the Government of Canada probably didn’t want to hear, let alone be heard by a gaggle of journalists taking it all in. Taking this in the proper order, the event started with salutary comments about the two honoured guest speakers to come. The Chair of the Council, Doug White, stated that both Wilson-Raybould and Philpott represented “the right approach to embracing principle, with clarity, without any hesitation.” During his introduction of the former cabinet ministers, B.C. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip described their actions as an “incredible stand… against the absolute injustices that were perpetrated against these very strong, principled women in regards to the shenanigans that were going on in Ottawa.” Those are strong words coming from strong Indigenous leaders, the kinds of words that used to be directed at Stephen Harper and his crew.

Before they spoke, both Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were honoured in a blanketing ceremony, something that at least one reporting in the room noted made them both visibly emotional. It is words like the ones above, and the actions in that ceremony, that give you a window into why so many Indigenous leaders were upset and dismayed by this whole fiasco, what happened with Jody Wilson-Raybould and the moving on Jane Philpott. Both of these MPs got it, they understood the relationship, what it could be, what that would take and they built the lasting relationships with Indigenous leaders, government and peoples all over.

And this was all before the keynote address, one that was sharp, insightful and unsparing in it’s truth telling. Entitled “From denial to recognition: the challenges of Indigenous justice”, this keynote address didn’t pull any punches and made many things clear. Wilson-Raybould criticized the current Liberal government for their approach to Indigenous peoples, and the lack of urgency to move to resolve these issues. Or as she put it, it was “not fast enough, nor as well co-ordinated as it should be”. While many of her words would sting in the ears of the current government, there was one line that leapt out at me for many reasons:

“My fear and disappointment is that despite sounding the alarm, providing the advice, pushing and challenging, sharing perspectives of lived Indigenous experience… the federal government has fallen back once again into a pattern of trying to ‘manage the problem’ with Indigenous peoples and make incremental shifts rather than transforming the status quo,”

“Managing the problem”, wow, that’s far from the relationship that the Prime Minister promised when he was on the campaign trail in 2015. I still remember Justin Trudeau’s speech at the Assembly of First Nations General Assembly in July of 2015. I was there with Tom Mulcair and my boss at the time, as Tom spoke before Justin. In that speech we heard Justin Trudeau say things that the he had never said before and started to use language that he simply refused to before this, things that the NDP had been saying for many years. He spoke of a true “Nation to Nation” relationship, as Indigenous peoples had told us they wanted, as the NDP had pledged to (and still do). As he went further and further into the speech the cynic in me wondered if he really understood what he was pledging to, if he was making a cynical play for votes or if he was being sincere.

I didn’t leave that ballroom that day with a firm judgement but after the election and in the first months of their government, I believed the sincerity. Many Indigenous peoples did, and given the choice the people had made, many of us decided to put disbelief aside and give this a chance. And that lasted for a bit, but over time, that eroded and wore away. When you hear what Jody Wilson-Raybould said today, you got the feeling she had a similar feeling, except she had a front row seat for the entire episode. The party that promised transformational change and claimed they had learned from mistakes of the past during an election, was then trying to “manage the problem”, just like Red and Blue Team governments have done for generations. That’s hard to watch up close, with your name and reputation attached to it.

In her part of the speech, Jane Philpott gave a perspective and comments that I think that many more people around Canada need to hear. She pointed out that while progress has been made, it’s not nearly enough. She said that “we have a long way to go to convince all Canadians of the urgent need for reconciliation”, which I would argue this episode has shown. It’s reflections like these that show how Philpott “got it” and why Indigenous peoples were so dismayed to see her shuffle in January.

Philpott also made another comment, about one things she’s learned from the whole SNC/PMO scandal; “Ottawa is not entirely ready for people who approach leadership and responsibility from different world views.” She also said of their critics that they have “failed to realize that the way things have always been done may not meet the standard for what Canadians expect from their political leaders.” Having spent time working on Parliament Hill as a Métis person for nine years, I can heartily agree with these statements. And the thing is, I would not argue these problems come from malice; I honestly think that political Ottawa and the workings of government haven’t gotten their collective heads around dealing with new people coming into the system from such different backgrounds and perspectives. That’s one of the reasons why the whole concept of doing things the way that they’ve always been done or “business as usual” really doesn’t work in this environment in 2019. It takes time, understanding and patience, and just like in any workplace, some people are better at that then others.

But in the end, I found this speech and these comments to be very insightful, timely and full of messages that go beyond the words that they spoke. They are words that show the greater problem the Liberal government faces today, and not just when it comes to getting re-elected. Today gave you a good glimpse into the scope of the damage the SNC/PMO scandal has done to the Liberals and their standing with the coalition that elected them in 2015. It also shows who really is seen to have the credibility in this story, and it’s not the Prime Minister.

Finally, with their cutting comments about the governments approach to Indigenous peoples and reconciliation, the PM has been further laid bare on this issue. These are two MPs who were the governments point people on leading these issues, and they told the tale of how they were held back from fulfilling the promises they made. They didn’t accept their cabinet roles to simply “manage the problem”; they knew their job was to deliver much more than that. In the end, the irony is that today it looks like the greater problem in need of management might have been in the PMO all along. I’m sure that they have a third party manager on speed dial to help them with that.

The Morning After: PEI Election Edition

Yesterdays election on Prince Edward Island ended up delivering on the drama that many of us expected, even if the result wasn’t what many had anticipated. The result of the 27-seat election took  much longer to decide then it did just the week before in the 87 seat Alberta election, which was called within 40 minutes. But on the Island, they’re heading into uncharted waters in more ways than one:

Islanders have elected a Minority Government, with the Progressive Conservatives winning the most seats at 12, exactly one seat shy of a majority. The PEI Greens will form the Official Opposition, after ending up with 8 seats, a record result for any Green Party in North America. The former governing Liberals have been relegated to third place, holding onto 6 seats, with Leader and outgoing Premier Wade MacLauchlan losing his seat. The New Democrats faced a wipe out, not wining a single seat, while losing about 60% of their vote share from the previous election, where they had over 10%.

But in a twist to this story, the election is not officially over yet. Due to the tragedy of the passing of the Green candidate Josh Underhay in Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park and his young, the vote was not held in that riding yesterday. It will now be held as a separate by-election, one where the fate of the PCs will be front and centre. PEI just had a re-drawing of their ridings, so this is actually a brand-new riding for this election made up of parts of the former ridings of Tracadie-Hillsborough Park and York-Oyster Bed. Both of those ridings were strong Liberal ridings last time, with the PCs pretty far behind. Given the PCs weaker performance in Charlottetown in this campaign, and the Greens strength there, it may not be very likely that this seat will make number 13 for the PCs and put them into majority territory, but that’s why we have elections. When this by-election is called, it will be one of the likes that the Island has never seen before.

Looking at each of the parties from last nights vote, there is some good news for some while band news for other. Starting with the outgoing government, last nights result is a historic loss, but not unexpected. I would argue that thanks to their organizational strength and full campaign warchest, they avoided what could have been a much worse fate. Falling to six seats is hard, but it could have been worse (and was for most of the night). For the Federal Liberals, this result is probably as close to the worst-case scenario as they could have expected. The worst would be a PC majority, and that’s still in play. Another Liberal Premier is gone, putting the total of Liberal governments down to two in the whole country. And to make it worse, it went PC, putting another ally of Andrew Scheer into government, assuming PC Leader Dennis King can find enough votes to get things done. And to add to the pain is the fact that according to all reports, the Trudeau Liberal brand was a drag on the Island Liberals. Some local new reports laid this out very well, and it doesn’t bode will for the federal Liberals going forward.

For the Conservatives and their federal cousins, tonight was good for the Blue Team, as they now look to have another government. Similar to the Liberals, it was the ground game, organization and money that helped to push the PCs over the finish line, showing that these things matter in close campaigns. But the good news for the federal Conservatives seems to end with having a mostly like-minded ally in Charlottetown. In this race, the PCs ran mostly a more low-key campaign, trying to be seen as the co-operator and someone who can work with anyone. There was no hard-right turn in this party, no railing against carbon pricing, no threats of lawsuits against NGOs or activists. They ran a very moderate campaign for the most part, one that doesn’t match up to the bluster of Andrew Scheer and his other provincial cohorts. Will that remain the same? Maybe, but without a natural or a right of centre ally in their legislature, I don’t think the Island PCs can afford to follow the path of their federal cousins too far.

For the Greens, they made history last night, just not the history that they thought they would. Despite falling short of government for now, they are still the first ever Green Party in North America to find itself in a position like this, as the lead Opposition party. Electing eight Green MLAs is a breakthrough to be proud of, and winning seats not just in Charlottetown, but sweeping Summerside and grabbing a couple rural seats showed good growth to be proud of. But in my view their downfall in the end was the lack of ground game, and this was going to be the interesting test of this campaign. If the Greens were going to win it all, it was going to have to come with people walking themselves through the doors to vote, because the Greens simply didn’t have the resources and peoplepower to help push them there. You can probably pick out a few seats that went either Liberal or PC that they might have won had they had those resources. This election showed why organization matters and while sometimes lightning will strike and it will all fall into place without it, that is the rarest of occasions. And in retrospect, this might turn out to be the best result for the Greens in the end. Their six new caucus members will have a chance to learn more, grow and be in a much better position to potentially govern later than if they had just been thrown into ministries with very little to no elected experience. Having this time as the Official Opposition can help the Greens on the Island build the impression in the minds of Islanders that they are ready next time.

For the Federal Greens, while this result will not hurt their prospects federally, it won’t help them greatly either. The party won’t be winning seats on PEI in the next Federal Election and having eight Green MLA’s on PEI won’t elect MPs in Toronto, Quebec or BC. But what this will do is put the Greens on more similar footing to other parties in the sense that they are now building an elected track record, for better or worse. You now have three provincial Green parties with significant potentially power in provincial legislatures, but as all the other parties know, that can be a double edge sword. Yes, the Federal Greens can point to the good decisions, but will they be able to defend the bad ones when they are made and are used against them? We will see but, in that sense, you can say that Greens have finally arrived.

And for the Orange Teams, both on PEI and Federally, this result should bring about some serious reflection about the future. The PEI NDP went harder left than before and lost over 60% of their vote. They didn’t win a seat last time, but they had over 10% of the vote. This time? Less than 4%, with Dr. Herb Dickieson in the end being the lone competitive candidate, finishing second in a tight race. Leader Joe Byrne came a distant fourth in his riding, which also said a lot. This was a watershed campaign on PEI, as it was ripe for a breakthrough for third parties. A wave came in, and while the Green rode it to the Official Opposition, the NDP was wiped out by it and found itself on the rocks, without a seat. This is the same thing that we saw in New Brunswick last year, when the party took a hard left and ended up in a similar position in a similar environment. This should be noted by the Federal NDP folks, as we have now seen two provincial elections where voters looking for change and something new looked right past the New Democrats and looked at Greens instead. I’m not saying that will be the trend federally, but I think they need to take a critical look at why that happened in those provinces and what lessons they can take away from.

As mentioned at the start, while last nights results were historic, the race is still not over. We’ll keep an eye on that by-election when it’s called but regardless of what happens in it, PEI has entered a new era of provincial politics. There are interesting times ahead, and we’ll see where it all leads.