By Andrew Macdonald
Prince Edward Island is Canada’s smallest province, with 140,000 residents, making it smaller even than Halifax Regional Municipality.
But don’t let that fool you.
The Island is known for historic election victories.
Back in 1986, Joe Ghiz became the first Islander not of European descent to defeat then Tory premier Jim Lee.
Liberal Ghiz was of Lebanese extraction.
In a hastily arranged Jack MacAndrew press conference, Charlottetown-born Ghiz declared he was a bona fide Islander, despite being of Lebanese heritage. It was reminiscent of John F. Kennedy’s assertion that, although a Catholic, he would not take orders from the Pope.
Then the Island later elected the first female premier in Canada in the early 1990s. That was Liberal Catherine Callbeck.
And in 2015, the Island elected the first known gay Maritime politician to hold the office of premier when Liberal Wade MacLauchlan took office.
Earlier in Maritime political history, New Brunswick premier Richard Hatfield served while being deep in the closet.
And, now Maritime politicos are wondering if the Island could elect the country’s first Green party as government.
It’s not laughable.
Upper Canadian pollster Mainstreet Research finds the Island’s Green Party is in first place in a new opinion poll, with the Tories trailing in second spot, and the governing Liberals languishing in third place.
The Green Party of Prince Edward Island have a significant lead over the governing Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives, according to the Mainstreet poll released Friday
The poll surveyed 647 residents of Prince Edward Island aged 18 and over between Jan. 3-4. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.84 per cent and is accurate 19 times out of 20.
“The Greens led by Peter Bevan-Baker enjoy the support of just over 36 per cent of PEI voters and lead both the James Aylward-led PCs (30 per cent) and the governing Liberals led by Premier Wade MacLauchlan (29 per cent). The NDP led by Mike Redmond are a distant fourth with just five per cent support,” said Mainstreet president Quito Maggi.
“This snapshot is sure to be the most explosive and controversial among all the provincial races,” said Maggi. “This is the first time our polling has the Green Party leading in any jurisdiction.”
The Progressive Conservatives lead among men, while the Greens have over 41 per cent support among women. The Greens lead all parties in every age group, and have nearly 50 per cent support in Charlottetown.
“In the rest of PEI, the PCs have a slight 1.7 per cent lead over the Greens, with the Conservatives in a close third, with 30.5 per cent,” says Maggi.
“The significance of this may not be clear until the next election, but the possibility of a Green Party forming government in any Canadian province has never been as possible as it is right now in PEI,” Maggi added.
“Unfortunately for Mr. Bevan-Baker, the election in PEI is not for another 18 months and many factors can change these numbers over that time frame. Nonetheless, this could be a signal of a significant shift in the political climate in PEI.”