P.E.I. conservatives promise low-income heating relief

Olive Crane made the first promise of P.E.I.'s election campaign Wednesday, saying the conservatives would create a home heating-oil subsidy for 30,000 low-income households.

P.E.I.’s Progressive Conservative Party Leader Olive Crane made the provincial election campaign’s first promise Wednesday.

Standing on the front lawn of Bernadette Van Omme, a senior citizen on a fixed income, Crane announced that her party would create a home heating-oil subsidy for 30,000 low-income households.

The program would save $350 to $500 per participating household. To qualify, households must earn less than $50,000 annually.

"I think it’s a great idea," said Van Omme. "It'll help the people that are not able to provide heat."

"Heat as you know is a basic need," Crane said. "When you look at families that are struggling every day, the working poor, seniors on fixed incomes, it’s a program that’ll be available Island wide."

The program would cost $15 million. Crane said her party would cover the cost by eliminating government waste, a shift she said taxpayers would support.

"They have no problems if they know where their tax dollars are going," she said.

"They have no problem if there's an investment for people that need a tank of oil. Where they have a problem is when an administration wastes money … a government led by myself will make prudent decisions, but decisions in balance with how you keep your economy going and how you help those that need it most."

The writ has not yet dropped on this election campaign, but Crane received a standing ovation when she held her first full meeting with a new roster of 26 other conservative candidates.

"What a great team when you look around the room," she said.

The group included Campaign Chair George MacDonald, a former Charlottetown mayor, and Albert Fogarty, a former cabinet minister.

Crane’s own office staff and advisors have also been shuffled more than once. She rejected speculation that her party is having organizational difficulties.

The Island's provincial election campaign can officially begin as early as Thursday and as late as next Tuesday.

The election date is set for Oct. 3.

P.E.I. amended its election act in 2008 to fix election dates in advance, to be held every four years on the first Monday of October.