PEI

P.E.I. Liberals and PCs both looking for leaders

If you ever dreamed of being premier, now's a good time to be on P.E.I. as both the provincial Liberals and Progressive Conservatives are looking for new leaders.

Both the provincial Liberals and Progressive Conservatives are looking for new leaders

Nominations for the Liberal leadership are open until Jan. 20. Anyone with PC aspirations has until Jan. 23. (The Canadian Press)

If you ever dreamed of being premier, now's a good time to be on P.E.I. as both the provincial Liberals and Progressive Conservatives are looking for new leaders. 

Last week, Wade MacLauchlan announced his bid to be Liberal leader and, ultimately, premier of P.E.I.

He had a lot of party support. 

"I have a lot of admiration and respect for Wade,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Robert Vessey.

But it doesn’t take a major endorsement to run for either the top Liberal or top PC job. Both parties say anyone with a $10 membership card and leadership aspirations is welcome and invited to give it a shot. 

"We believe, if candidates want to run for our party, it's an open process. And that prevents anyone thinking the party has a favourite. This process ensures if anybody wants to come forward, they just need to come to the party office and pick up nomination forms,” said Jamie MacPhail, executive director for the P.E.I. Liberal Party. 

In reality, it's not quite that simple. 

First, there's the issue of party support. To run for the Liberals, a candidate would need the signatures of 50 other party members. 

For the PCs, it's 100 signatures from party members living in 14 of the 27 Island districts. 

"As we go into an election with a new leader, we're going to have to have someone who is able to get out across all areas of the Island, and garner support everywhere, right? Not just in one area,” said Gordon MacFarlane, PC Leadership Convention committee member.

Considering the financial cost

There’s also the issue of money to consider. 
 
A Liberal leadership run will cost you $2,500 dollars just to sign up. 

It used to cost the same to run for the PCs, but the pricetag is now $10,000 to sign up.  

"Leadership conventions can be expensive, and we want to do the convention right. The other thing is though, any new leader, an important part of that role is going to be fundraising throughout the Island. So a good quality, right off the bat, is someone who is able to raise that money,” said MacFarlane.

But that hiked-up cost doesn't sit well with Peter Llewellyn. He ran unsuccessfully for the PC leadership in 2010. 

The small business owner is not running this time, partly he says, due to the cost. He worries others will be deterred as well. 

"The party system has to be about attracting the right people. The right people don't always necessarily have money. This needs to be almost be a hiring process. It has to be about substance,” said Llewellyn. 

There are Liberal and PC leadership committees that interview potential candidates, but just to ensure there are no obvious red flags. 

In fact, both parties say no one wanting to run for the leadership has ever been turned away. 

"We put our trust in the membership of our party, and they will be deciding the next leader of our party, not a close-knit group of people,” said MacPhail.

Nominations for the Liberal leadership are open until Jan. 20.

Anyone with PC aspirations has until Jan. 23. 

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