P.E.I. PCs to choose new leader Feb. 9
Party members will have option to cast ballot electronically
The Progressive Conservative Party of P.E.I. has announced it will hold its next leadership convention on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown.
In September the party's current leader, James Aylward, announced he will step down once a new leader is chosen.
Organizers expect candidates to declare their intentions to run in the next few weeks. All eight PC MLA's have declined to run for the leadership. Though a number of members have expressed interest, no one has been confirmed.
It'll be the Tories' third leadership race on P.E.I. since 2015, but party spokesperson Michael Drake said there is no "fatigue" at the district level or among the executive and potential candidates.
"I am expecting a contested race with several good quality candidates who are committed to the future of Prince Edward Island who are going to put their name in the hat and best foot forward," he said.
Besides voting in-person at the convention, members will also be able to cast ballots by phone or online, making it a more "interactive democracy," Drake said.
"For members who may not be here on convention day, who may be down south or students who are away and so on, it enables everybody to take part in the party that they're a member of at a really important time."
Members who choose to vote electronically or by phone will be issued secure PIN numbers. Drake said it is a safe and secure platform.
Vote will use ranked ballot
The party said it would use a ranked ballot system for voting, which it had planned to do at its last convention in October 2017. However only two candidates came forward in that race, meaning a ranked ballot wasn't required.
The party said it has lowered the entry fee for candidates from the previous $10,000 to $7,500, and it clarified that candidates will be required to follow new provincial rules around political donations.
Under those rules, donations to leadership campaigns will only be allowed to be made by individuals (no corporate or union donations), and a donation limit of $3,000 per year, per party is in place.
The party said it has also decreased the spending limit for leadership hopefuls to $25,000 per campaign, down from the $45,000 limit in place in 2017.
Aylward lacked 'connection with Islanders'
Aylward was named party leader on Oct. 20, 2017, defeating fellow caucus member Brad Trivers.
"It has become clear to me over the past couple of months that despite my best efforts, I have not been able to make a strong enough connection with Islanders," Aylward told reporters less than a year later, announcing his decision to step down.
Aylward said he will stay on as an MLA and will run in the next election.
Recent polls from Corporate Research Associates have shown the PCs in third place among voting intentions of Islanders, behind the Liberals and the Green Party.
There is speculation a provincial election could be called in the spring, although according to the province's legislated fixed election date, the next election isn't supposed to happen until the fall of 2019.
According to the legislation if there's a federal election at that time (as is expected), P.E.I.'s election is supposed to be put off until spring 2020.