Parties & Leaders
CBC Online News | Updated Apr. 30, 2007
Pat Binns, now seeking his fourth mandate as premier of Prince Edward Island, will once again be at the centre of the Progressive Conservative campaign.
The 2003 campaign was all about Binns, with his name and his face on every poster, newspaper ad and policy announcement. Even the campaign website was patbinns.ca.
Recent Tory campaigns have not been known for their flare or passion. The party followed up its 2000 campaign slogan of "Let's Continue" with "Let's Keep Building" in 2003. They are fittingly downbeat slogans for a party leader who is known for keeping a calm demeanor, whether fielding insults from the Opposition during question period, or facing angry Islanders at public meetings.
"If a person's upset they usually have a reason for doing that, and I'm not going to make them feel any better by being upset or arguing as well. I try to sit back, understand where they are coming from and if I can reasonably try to deal with it... then do that," says Binns.
"You know the voters always have the last word and I respect that."
Binns is "from away," an Island term defining someone who was not born on P.E.I. Patrick George Binns was born in Saskatchewan on Oct. 8, 1948, to Stanley Ernest Binns and Phyllis Mae Evans and holds a masters degree in Community Development from the University of Alberta.
Is there anything that can draw the premier's anger?
One of my colleagues knows one thing I don't like is lumpy mashed potatoes. And he said, 'The only time I saw him get upset was when they served him lumpy mashed potatoes.'
Since graduating in 1971 he has rarely been away from politics or the public service. As a public figure in a small province one is never far from the voters, or their opinions and problems. Binns says he never tires of talking about issues, whether it's at the airport, the grocery store or with someone who drives up the lane of his farm in eastern Kings county.
"You can't fix a problem if you can't understand. You'll hear versions of what the problem is but you often have to dig a little deeper to get into what's really behind that. What is the real issue here?
"And I don't think that I or cabinet necessarily has a lock on good ideas. You have to get out and talk about the problems and that will produce solutions most of the time, so that's the approach I try to take."
Binns moved to Prince Edward Island in 1972 and spent two years working for the Rural Development Council of P.E.I. During the following four years, he worked for the provincial government, establishing regional service centres in the eastern end of the Island.
The commitment to community-based services followed Binns into the political arena. He has maintained a promise not to close any schools, which are at the heart of many communities on P.E.I., for close to 10 years.
His first term in provincial politics began in 1978. One year later he moved into cabinet, where he held several cabinet portfolios, including industry, municipal affairs, fisheries, environment, labour and housing, and had responsibilities for economic development.
Binns then shifted his gaze to Ottawa, mounting a successful run at federal politics and becoming the MP for Cardigan between 1984 and 1988. He was a member of the standing committees on agriculture and fisheries and served as parliamentary secretary to the minister of fisheries and oceans.
That was followed by eight years in the private sector, when Binns took to the land on his Hopefield property running his bean farm and acting as president of both Island Bean Limited and Pat Binns & Associates.
In the Maritimes, Saturday night is traditionally baked bean night. If a person looks at the package and it reads Island Bean Co. they could be eating his beans. The farm is still where Binns enjoys what few quiet minutes he does have away from running the province.
"That's a bit of a diversion from politics, something that we can work on together at home. That's one of the things I like to do. The nice thing about a farm and some woodland is that you can kind of escape and do something totally different than the kind of political interaction you have in the political arena."
The call to public service came again in the mid 1990s and Binns was elected MLA for District 5, Murray River-Gaspereaux, in the general election of Nov. 18, 1996. He became premier, president of the executive council and the minister responsible for intergovernmental affairs on Nov. 27, 1996.
Three and a half years later, on April 17, 2000, Binns went back to the electorate and was swept back to power with an even more convincing mandate, leaving all but one of the 27 seats in Province House filled by Tories.
Then on Sep. 29, 2003, came a historic victory, a third government in a row, a first for a Progressive Conservative on P.E.I. It was a reduced majority, with the Liberals taking four seats, but a clear sign of the electorate's continuing faith in him.
With this election, Binns has another historical milestone in sight. Should he win and stay on to Jan. 9, 2009, he will become the longest-serving premier in P.E.I. history.
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Born: Oct. 8, 1948 in Sasketchewan
Education: Masters in Community Development from the University of Alberta - 1971
Employment: Rural Development Council of P.E.I., Government of Prince Edward Island, farmer.
Politics: First elected to Island Legislature in 1978 and then to House of Commons in 1984. Returned to politics in 1996 as MLA for District 5, sworn in as premier on Nov. 27. Won second term in 2000.
Extra: Involved in the planning and construction of the Northumberland Arena.Founding member of the Northumberland Fisheries Festival.
Family: Married to Carol, four children, Rob Mark, Bradley and Lilly.
- VIDEO FEATURE | Sep. 11, 2006
Interviews with the three party leaders
- Host Terry Seguin starts the series with Conservative leader Pat Binns. (runs 8:20)
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