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

Mounties collar suspect after shots ring out in Maple Ridge

Weekend incident on 227th Street leads police to Surrey for one arrest and gathering of evidence

‘Just getting to know Maple Ridge’: local resident discovers historical markers

Belle Morse Park was named after the former mayor who also served as a city councillor

Guard dog trainer looks to take over part of tree farm

An unused horse arena and gravel area on Green Road property proposed for alternate use

Council ponders next steps for Pitt Meadows Official Community Plan

Revising a blueprint for how to keep growing and developing the city has been stalled by COVID

LETTER: Why are mobile lab workers not getting hazard pay?

A Pitt Meadows essential service worker questions why she and coworkers are not being compensated

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping The News to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

20 dead in COVID-19 outbreak at Langley Lodge

There were two new cases detected, according to the Lodge’s update

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

UPDATE: One person dead, two in critical condition after Highway 1 collision in Langley

A man and woman were taken to hospital in critical condition

Commercial rent relief applications open as feds encourage landlords to apply

Program would see government cover 50 per cent of the rent

Most Read