'Appetite for change' key to byelection win, says Hannah Bell
Size of win unexpected
Hannah Bell, the winning Green Party candidate in the Charlottetown-Parkdale byelection Monday, says she heard about many issues from voters during the campaign, but desire for change was a central theme.
Bell took 768 votes, Liberal Bob Doiron 611 votes, the PC's Melissa Hilton 586 votes and the NDP leader Mike Redmond 202, according to direct data from Elections P.E.I.
Bell said she heard on the doorstep about what she called a crisis in health care, in particular regarding seniors and mental health. There were discussions about education and housing, but she believes the central message was change.
"We really heard that the appetite for change was there," Bell told Island Morning host Matt Rainnie.
"That appetite for change is about wanting to see government and opposition who are actually listening to what the people ask them to do, and doing it."
Bell said she was surprised by the margin of victory. Unofficial results from Elections P.E.I. give her 35.3 per cent of the vote, seven percentage points over second place Liberal candidate Bob Doiron.
Bell will be a full-time MLA. She is stepping down from her job as executive director of the PEI Business Women's Association. That transition, she said, will take about a month.
Shaking Island politics
Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker was surprised by the win.
"This was unexpected, not only from within our camp, but everywhere else," said Bevan-Baker.
"I really think we have shaken Island politics to its core."
With the Green win, seats in the legislature stand like this.
- Liberal: 17
- Progressive Conservative: 8
- Green: 2
Since 1900, two parties have had almost total dominance of P.E.I. politics. The Liberals and Progressive Conservatives (Conservatives prior to 1947), over the course of 32 general elections, have won all but three of the seats up for grabs.
The exceptions were
- 1919: John Alexander Dewar, Independent.
- 1996: Herb Dickieson, NDP.
- 2015: Peter Bevan-Baker, Green.
With her election win Monday, Hannah Bell will be part of a two-member, third-party caucus, which is unprecedented in P.E.I. politics.
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With files from Island Morning