Relentless questioning around a controversial immigrant investor program was a big part of why some in P.E.I.'s Progressive Conservative Party fought against Olive Crane, the outgoing leader says.
Crane resigned her position as party leader in December, effective Thursday, in her final interview as leader, Crane told CBC News the Provincial Nominee Program was an issue some powerful people in the party wanted her to drop, and that was a big part of what led to her resignation.
The immigrant investor section of the PNP allowed people looking to immigrate to the Island to invest in a local business, and have their immigration fast-tracked. More than 1,300 companies received investments over the life of the program, between 2001 and 2008. But there were allegations of conflict of interest in how the money was distributed. The auditor general found three deputy ministers and/or their spouses received money for their companies.
PNP was Olive Crane's file, and she hammered away at mismanagement of the controversial immigration program any chance she had. Crane tried to turn over every rock, and she says she didn't care which political stripe she found underneath.
"Every day, when I asked questions on mismanagement I had been very clear, if I find it any place, I will deal with that," said Crane.
'[He] told me his job in life was to ensure that I was going to be destroyed.'— Olive Crane
That made people within the PC Party nervous, she said. The program started under former Tory Premier Pat Binns. Once she took over as party leader, Crane regularly called for a public inquiry to look at the whole program, right back to the beginning.
"I can remember very clearly a particular visitor that told me in opposition that if I continued, they would ensure that I would never be around politics, I'd never be leader of the opposition, and I'd certainly never be leading our party any place," she said.
Crane said she has no doubt her ultimate downfall is linked to PNP, and some who wanted her to drop the file.
"There was a gentleman that told me his job in life was to ensure that I was going to be destroyed," she said.
"I do not want to be part of a party that's run by a group like that."
Crane is no longer leader, but she does intend to continue on as an MLA, and also continue in the role as official critic on the PNP file for the opposition.