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Alex Campbell’s victory in P.E.I.

The Story

Summerside lawyer Alex Campbell is being underestimated. Some speculate that the suave 32-year-old is too young to capture the seniors' vote. Others say that the Tory stronghold is unbeatable. But Campbell, Liberal son of former P.E.I. premier Thane Campbell, woos voters with his vision to develop the Island's resources and his commitment to change. CBC Television travels with the young candidate on the campaign trail and is with him when he scores a major upset over the incumbent Conservative candidate Walter Shaw. 

Medium: Television
Program: CBC News
Broadcast Date: July 12, 1966
Guests: Alex Campbell, Keith MacKenzie, Walter Shaw, Bruce Stewart
Host: Kingsley Brown
Duration: 14:30

Did You know?

• Liberal George Coles became P.E.I.'s first premier in 1851 after responsible government was granted. Considered by some to have been the most effective and powerful premier, Coles established education and property ownership acts.
• Edward Palmer became the Island's first Conservative premier in 1860. Palmer was renowned for maintaining the status quo. Specifically, he fought against joining British North America and resisted any land reforms. He was replaced by his Conservative colleague John Hamilton Gray in 1863.

• Walter Maxfield Lea, premier from 1930-1931 and 1935-1936, was the first farmer to be elected premier on the Island. He led the Liberal party to victory in 1935 when they won all 30 seats. This marked the first time in British Commonwealth history in which there was no opposition party in the Legislature. He died in office on Jan. 10, 1936.
• Alexander Bradshaw Campbell was born on Dec. 1, 1933, in Summerside, P.E.I.

• Alex's father, Thane Campbell, was premier of P.E.I. from 1936 to 1943. The senior Campbell stepped down as premier in 1943 to accept an appointment as the province's chief justice. He retired in 1970 and passed away in 1978.
• Alex Campbell was the youngest premier to be elected in P.E.I. history. Thane and Alex were also the only father and son to be elected to the premier's office on the Island.

• When he assumed the reins of leadership, Alex Campbell worked hard to turn around the near-bankrupt province. Over the course of his leadership he overhauled the province's economy, education system and social services. He also sought to maintain the Island's heritage and established the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation.

• Alex Campbell led the Liberal party to another victory in 1970, winning 27 of the 32 provincial seats. He won again in 1974 and 1978 and holds the record for the longest term in the premier's office — 12 years and two months.

• As many of his wide-reaching programs came under fire, Campbell changed his focus to a more green theme. He promoted "the conserver society" and stressed a more ecologically friendly and balanced way of life. But it was too late and voters opted for a complete change with Conservative Angus MacLean. MacLean would go on to win the next election in 1979 with his million-acre farm campaign. • Campbell resigned in 1978 and was appointed to the P.E.I. Supreme Court.


P.E.I. Elections: Liberal Landslides and Tory Tides more