Opposition leader still in question
Constitution gives leader power to assign caucus responsibilities
A new look at the constitution of the P.E.I. Progressive Conservative Party has raised new questions about a caucus vote last week to elect the official leader of the Opposition.
The caucus elected MLA Hal Perry as Opposition leader on Wednesday, and the next day a vote of the caucus and party executive made MLA Steven Myers interim leader, creating an unprecedented split with possibility of Opposition leader and party leader sitting side by side in the legislature next month.
But some believe the party's constitution offers a way out of the current dilemma. Lawyer Geoff Connolly, a former vice president of the party, has been reading the constitution, with a particular focus on the duties and power of party leader.
PC Party constitution
"Appointing of leader's advisory committees and assigning of caucus responsibilities are the prerogatives of the leader."
"An interim party Leader shall have the same authority as that of the Party Leader."
"It's clear the party leader, who is now after the vote last week, would be Steven Myers, would be pursuant to our constitution the person who would select or assign caucus duties," said Connolly.
Under the constitution, says Connolly, Myers is free to decide who will serve as Opposition leader inside the legislature.
"Subject to someone finding some other legislative provision which would say otherwise, I think it is Steven Myers who should be making those decisions," he said.
"I hope they follow what the constitution says but obviously they also have to look out for the public welfare and the public good."
Party president Blake Doyle said he's already been in discussions with lawyers and other executive members about the constitution.
"This is a really unique situation, one that the party itself hasn't been through before," said Doyle.
"I think we will refer to the document of the constitution and that will help guide us."
Doyle said the party's executive will meet to discuss the constitution and the powers Myers has as interim leader. It will also be discussed at the party's regular council meeting next week, which is open to the party membership.
Perry has said he is fine with two people in the two positions. Myers has said he believes one person should hold both jobs.