Polls close in P.E.I.

Voters have cast their ballots in P.E.I.'s provincial election. Liberal Leader Robert Ghiz is hoping to earn a second mandate.
Robert Ghiz is seeking a second term. (CBC)

Voters in P.E.I. have cast their ballots in Monday's provincial election. Liberal Leader Robert Ghiz is hoping to earn a second mandate.

The polls closed at 7 p.m. AT.

Ghiz came into the election campaign in early September as the strong favourite, with a comfortable lead in the polls and facing a Progressive Conservative opposition that was fielding only one incumbent. The Liberals held 24 of 27 seats at dissolution, with one seat vacant and one Tory incumbent not re-offering.

An old scandal returns

Green Party Leader Sharon Labchuk votes in her district Charlottetown-Victoria Park. (CBC)

The campaign took an abrupt turn towards the end of its second week, when federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney asked RCMP and Border Services Canada to look into allegations of bribery in the immigrant investor section of the Provincial Nominee Program.

PNP was a longstanding issue for Progressive Conservative Leader Olive Crane. Since 2008 she had been hounding the government for a public inquiry in patronage in the program. The businesses of several MLAs, deputy ministers, and their families received investments through PNP. The issue had, however, all but died before the new allegations surfaced.

A controversial hotel

PNP was not the only incident to burst into the campaign.

Questions have been raised regarding the loan to the Holman Grand Hotel. (CBC)

An international real estate developer, Homburg Invest, filed for creditor protection on Sept. 9, and it emerged that the P.E.I. government was a major creditor. The province holds first mortgage, valued at $16.3 million, on the Holman Grand Hotel in downtown Charlottetown.

It has another $16.5 million out in other loans to related companies, which are considered financially stable.

The Holman Grand Hotel, the tallest building on P.E.I., was controversial both in its design and in the amount of money the government had forwarded in loans to the company to have it built. Uncertainty surrounding the repayment of the money only added to that controversy.

14 NDP candidates

The New Democratic Party was slow to nominate candidates for the election, and by the nomination deadline had just 14 candidates.

Polls are open on P.E.I. from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. For information on how to cast your ballot, click here.

While, as Leader James Rodd noted, 14 is enough to form a government, it is a disappointing turnout for a party that might have been looking to build on recent success at the federal level. At a minimum, the NDP are looking to rebound from a fourth place finish, behind the Green Party, in 2007.

The Green Party, meanwhile, is fielding candidates in 22 districts.

History of repeats

In the history of P.E.I. politics, 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. To make matters worse for challengers of parties seeking a second mandate, the pattern is for governments to improve their standing in their second election.