Progressive Conservative Leader Olive Crane is heading back to Province House, and she's taking four Tories with her.

The Tories wilI only hold five of 27 seats in the legislature, but it's still an improvement for the party. At dissolution, the Conservatives held just two.

"Of course, we would have liked to have done a little better," Crane told CBC News. But even with a handful of seats, she added, "that's a far cry from zero."

The other Tories in her caucus are:

  • James Aylward — Stratford-Kinlock.
  • Hal Perry — Tignish-Palmer Road.
  • Steven Myers — Georgetown-St. Peters.
  • Colin LaVie — Souris-Elmira.

There was a tight race in Belfast-Murray River, with the Liberal incumbent squeaking by with an eight-vote margin.

Overall, the Tories took 40 per cent of the popular vote.

Crane was the lone Tory incumbent going into this election, which meant fielding a whole new team.

She took a comfortable 58 per cent of the vote in Morell-Mermaid, defeating her nearest rival, Liberal Dan MacDonald, who had over 36 per cent. MacDonald, a well-known son of a former MP, was considered a threat.

If Crane didn't win, she might have faced a challenge to her leadership.

Shrinking caucus

Crane, a career civil servant, jumped into politics in March 2006 with a byelection win. The Tories, under Pat Binns, controlled 23 of 27 seats and had been in power for nearly 10 years.

Islanders turfed the Tories in the general election of May 2007 but Crane kept her newly designed district. The PC caucus was reduced to only Crane and three others.

Crane was named interim leader in September 2007. Last October, she became its permanent leader by defeating chief rival Jamie Ballem, a cabinet minister in the Binns government.

The Tory caucus shrank under her leadership. Binns resigned his seat in 2007 when he was named ambassador to Ireland. Mike Currie resigned in Georgetown-St. Peters earlier this year to run federally. He lost, but he didn't reoffer.

Crane's remaining caucus partner, Jim Bagnell, didn't reoffer in Montague-Kilmuir.

Immigration scandal

During the month-long campaign, Crane hammered away at the Liberals over the Provincial Nominee Program — a longstanding issue for her.

Two weeks in, allegations surfaced that the businesses of several MLAs, deputy ministers and their families received investments through PNP. Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney asked the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency to investigate.

Crane singled out Liberal leader Robert Ghiz, calling him "a disgrace" during the televised debate. She said she didn't know anything about the Tory party members who came forward with the allegations.

For Crane, the question was whether the scandal would help her Tories take seats away from the Liberals, or even form the government.

Districts targeted

They had their eye on Souris-Elmira, an eastern district that has traditionally been a Tory stronghold but went to the Liberals in 2007. Colin LaVie squeaked past Liberal incumbent Allan Campbell by 30 votes.

In Tignish-Palmer Road, MP Gail Shea -- the federal revenue minister -- and her team worked with Tory Hal Perry to take down Liberal Neil LeClair, minister of fisheries, aquaculture and rural development. For the Tories, who consider themselves defender of rural Islanders, Perry's win was important.

Tory James Aylward took Stratford-Kinlock, a district the party lost by 81 seats in the last provincial election.

Steven Myers retained Georgetown-St. Peters for the Tories. That seat was left vacant when Currie resigned.

Though it's an improvement for Crane and the Tories, they had history against them.

First-term governments seeking re-election have a strong track record. There has not been a one-term government on the Island since the 1930s.