Progressive Conservative Hal Perry is crossing the floor of the P.E.I. legislature to join the governing Liberals, saying he was unable to speak out regarding reforms to employment insurance as a Tory.
Perry said a lot of his constituents are upset about changes to the EI system, but as a Progressive Conservative he was not able to publicly oppose them.
"The overwhelming issue that I hear about on a day-to-day basis is the federal government's reform of the employment insurance system," said Perry.
"There is a genuine reluctance among the senior members of the Island Conservative Party to address these issues and the concerns head on."
Perry also said there is a lot of disorganization in the provincial Tories and that the party is going nowhere. He said he needed to be a Liberal in order make changes.
About an hour and a half after Perry made his announcement PC interim party leader Steven Myers stood before the media to respond.
Myers' initial statement did not mention Perry by name, or refer to the defection.
"I certainly respect the choice that was made," was the closest Myers came to mentioning the incident.
Pressed further during questions, Myers came closer to discussing Perry's crossing of the floor.
"It's his decision," he said.
"It's disappointing. It was disappointing to me, it came as a surprise to me. It's unfortunate but that's the way it happened and we'll have to move one."
Myers said he was proud of the work his party is doing to hold the government to account.
Perry was first elected to the legislature in 2011 to the district of Tignish-Palmer Road in the far west of the province.
Perry briefly served as leader of the Opposition early this year. He was appointed to that position with the support of the caucus on Jan. 30, but resigned a few days later when Steven Myers was named interim party leader.
Perry initially argued Opposition leader and party leader could be held by different people.
The defection leaves the Progressive Conservatives with just four members in the 27-seat legislature.
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