Districts to watch in the P.E.I. election

Any district is arguably one to watch. Every kitchen in the province has a different take on the winds of change or whether they even exist. But there are at least seven to watch because they are the battlegrounds without an incumbent, or a race involving a leader.

Both urban and rural, here are some battles to watch on Tuesday April 23

P.E.I. will head to the polls on April 23. (CBC)

With 27 districts tip to tip, there will be plenty to keep track of on election night but there are certain districts that may catch your interest on April 23.

Any district is arguably one to watch. Every kitchen in the province has a different take on the winds of change or whether they even exist.

These districts were chosen as ones to watch because they're the battlegrounds without an incumbent or a race involving a leader.

When referencing the historical side of some districts we'll be going as far back as the 1996 election — when P.E.I. switched from dual-member ridings to 27 individual districts.

Throughout this piece we may refer to "the realignment" or "electoral boundaries" having changed. Keep in mind, leading up to this election the boundaries of many districts were either enlarged, shifted or shrunk.

We've also organized candidates in each district alphabetically by first name.

District 9: Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park was originally included in this story, as there is no incumbent in the district.

After this story was published, the Green Party candidate in this district died in an accident. Elections P.E.I. says a byelection will be held in the coming weeks for District 9.

In light of this, CBC P.E.I. has decided to remove the district from this story.

District 3: Montague-Kilmuir (No incumbent)

The four candidates in District 3 are Billy Cann, NDP; Cory Deagle, PC; Daphne Griffin, Liberal; John Allen MacLean, Green. (Elections P.E.I.)

Before former Liberal MLA Allen Roach turned Montague-Kilmuir red in 2011, this district was a comfortable seat for the PCs.

However, after eight years as an MLA, Roach is not reoffering and has left the Montague region open for the taking.

These four candidates are lining up to claim it.

  • Billy Cann, NDP.
  • Cory Deagle, PC.
  • Daphne Griffin, Liberal.
  • John Allen MacLean, Green.

Cann (NDP) has run in the area before. In 2007 as a Liberal, in 2011 for the Island Party, and for the NDP in Cardigan for the 2015 federal election. He was unsuccessful in those bids. He's worked in fishing and construction and is the owner and operator of a tourism business. 

Deagle (PC) worked as a legislative assistant for the Opposition and is a volunteer. He is a past president of the Montague Minor Hockey Association and current co-chair of the Eastern Eagles Soccer Tournament.

Griffin (Liberal) was a town councillor in Montague. She also served as the representative on the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities Board. She's also worked as a bus driver for nearly a decade and as a real estate agent for Century 21. 

MacLean (Green) ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for council in the municipal election in Three Rivers and currently works at a craft brewery and as a substitute teacher in the Montague area. He's also played in bands for local benefit concerts in the area.

District 5: Mermaid-Stratford (No incumbent)

The four candidates in District 5 are Lawrence Millar, NDP; Mary Ellen McInnis, PC; Michele Beaton, Green; Randy Cooper, Liberal. (Elections P.E.I.)

The infamous coin-toss district.

Since 1996, the PCs and the Liberals have shared this district equally.

From 1996-2007 it was the PCs. Alan McIsaac claimed it for the Liberals in 2007 when it was renamed Vernon River-Stratford and it has been in their hands ever since. Although, the last election ended in a tie and McIsaac won in a coin toss.

The district has transformed drastically leading up to the 2019 election — being realigned and renamed once again. It now is wedged into Stratford and has become more of an urban riding, having most of its former rural area gobbled up by the new District 2 Georgetown-Pownal.

Here are the four candidates racing for this district.

  • Lawrence Millar, NDP.
  • Mary Ellen McInnis, PC.
  • Michele Beaton, Green.
  • Randy Cooper, Liberal.

Millar (NDP) has worked in all sorts of roles in the agriculture industry throughout his life. He's served on the Valleyfield Community Council and has worked on the Three Rivers Steering Committee as well as campaigned for the NDP.

McInnis (PC) is taking a crack at this district for the third time now. She is a partner on her family farm, has worked on Skate Canada P.E.I.'s board of directors for 28 years, and is currently the president of the St. Joachim's Catholic Women's League.

Beaton (Green) operated a family golf course tourism business. She currently manages Bell Canada's small business internet portfolio for the Maritimes, Ontario and Quebec. She's also involved in the Girl Guides of Canada. 

Cooper (Liberal) is the former deputy mayor of Stratford and served on council from 2010-2018. He's also worked at his family's business, Cooper's Red & White, as a minor hockey volunteer and as president of the P.E.I. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association.

District 14: Charlottetown-West Royalty (No incumbent — sort of)

The five candidates in District 14 are Angus Birt, PC; Bush Dumville, Independent; Gavin Hall, Green; Gord McNeilly, Liberal; Janis Newman, NDP. (Elections P.E.I.)

This is one of the only districts with five candidates vying for the seat — and one of the only districts in recent history with (shall we say) half an incumbent.

This new district used to be called Charlottetown-Lewis Point, but in the realignment it hauled in the neighbourhood of West Royalty from District 15.

By annexing West Royalty, the new district also pulled in Independent MLA Bush Dumville.

With former Liberal MLA Kathleen Casey not reoffering, it's open season here for the candidates. Here they are.

  • Angus Birt, PC.
  • Bush Dumville, Independent.
  • Gavin Hall, Green.
  • Gord McNeilly, Liberal.
  • Janis Newman, NDP.

Birt (PC) worked with Air Canada for many years and has served as a long-time minor hockey coach in the Charlottetown and North River areas. He also served on the Recreation and Youth Advisory Committees in the city and has worked on campaigns with the PCs for years.

Dumville (Ind.) used to be a Liberal MLA but resigned in January 2018 to sit as an Independent. Throughout his time as an MLA since 2007, he's served on many standing committees. Before politics he was an RCMP officer, was president of the Rotary Club of Charlottetown and director of the local chamber of commerce.

Hall (Green) has been a realtor based in Charlottetown for eight years and has served on the P.E.I. Real Estate Association as a board member and as vice-president. He's also volunteered for the Children's Wish Foundation.

McNeilly (Liberal) is likely a familiar face here as he ran for the NDP against the Liberal incumbent in 2015. Before coming to P.E.I., he was a professional basketball player in Europe and worked with the military as a civilian expert. He's worked as the United Way Campaign Chair and is currently the owner and operator of UFIT.

Newman (NDP) has lived and worked in the Charlottetown-West Royalty area for over 25 years, and pins her roots on P.E.I. to the early 1800s. She currently works in the cannabis industry and has been active in the 2SLGBTQA+ community for a number of years.

District 8: Stanhope-Marshfield (Leader)

The four candidates in District 8 are Bloyce Thompson, PC; Marian White, NDP; Sarah Donald, Green; Wade MacLauchlan, Liberal. (Elections P.E.I.)

This is another district that's been in the hands of the Liberals and the PCs equally since 1996. In 2015 Wade MacLauchlan took the seat to sit as premier.

Though, the realignment will provide an interesting new chapter here as the district has merged with most of the former Tracadie-Hillsborough Park area that ran from Charlottetown to the North Shore.

Here are the four candidates running in Stanhope-Marshfield.

  • Bloyce Thompson, PC.
  • Marian White, NDP.
  • Sarah Donald, Green.
  • Wade MacLauchlan, Liberal.

Thompson (PC) is a farmer, owning and operating his family farm Eastside Holsteins, which also sells dairy cattle around the world. He also volunteers as a minor baseball coach, has served as vice-president of Old Home Week and as a board member of the Dairy Farmers of P.E.I.

White (NDP) has taught internationally and worked in international development with non-government organizations for decades. She's also currently the first vice-president of the NDP P.E.I. Provincial Council, working in communications, fundraising and women's support.

Donald (Green) is a former farmer and current residence life co-ordinator at UPEI. She's worked elsewhere in Canada in mental health, including volunteering for the youth mental-health group, and served as the University of Winnipeg's cheerleading coach.

MacLauchlan (Liberal) has been the leader of the party since 2015 and served as premier of the province following the election that year. Prior to political life, MacLauchlan was the dean of UNB law school, president of UPEI, on the North Shore Community Council and was a board member with the Federation of P.E.I. Municipalities.

District 12: Charlottetown-Victoria Park (Leader)

The four candidates in District 12 are Joe Byrne, NDP; Karla Bernard, Green; Richard Brown, Liberal; Tim Keizer, PC. (Elections P.E.I.)

Since 1996, the Liberals have lost this seat only once — to former PC MLA Bobby MacMillan in 2000, an election where Liberal Richard Brown lost by just 16 votes.

From 2003 on, Brown has held this seat for the party and is having another go at it in 2019 with a new slate of challengers including NDP Leader Joe Byrne.

Here are the candidates battling for this seat.

  • Joe Byrne, NDP.
  • Karla Bernard, Green.
  • Richard Brown, Liberal.
  • Tim Keizer, PC.

Byrne (NDP) ran for the party in Charlottetown in the 2011 and 2015 federal elections losing both contests. He's also been involved in a number of community groups including the Cooper Institute, the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers. Recently, he's worked with Community Connections and as a driving instructor.

Bernard (Green) worked as a counsellor and teacher with the Public Schools Branch starting in 2005, and worked in various roles promoting healthy, safe spaces and mental-health services. In 2015, she represented Prince Edward Island in the creation of the Mental Health Action Plan for Canada. 

Brown (Liberal) has served as an MLA for 20 years. He's held multiple ministerial posts over the years and was also Government House Leader. Before provincial politics he was a city councillor in Charlottetown and worked in the IT sector.

Keizer (PC) has worked as a police officer in many roles including general patrol and on the Street Crime Unit. He won several awards for his community efforts. He's currently the president of the P.E.I. Police Association, sits on the board of S.A.F.E. and worked on the D.A.R.E. program in city schools for more than 15 years.

District 15: Brackley-Hunter River (Leader)

The four candidates in District 15 are Dennis King, PC; Greg Bradley, Green; Leah-Jane Hayward, NDP; Windsor Wight, Liberal. (Elections P.E.I.)

Earlier we mentioned Independent MLA Bush Dumville's former riding being pushed further into central P.E.I., well this is that district.

Not only is this a race without an incumbent, PC Leader Dennis King is running here too. Because this district used to include more urban parts of Charlottetown and no longer does, it's difficult to put its history into the context of this election. 

Here are the candidates trying to start a new chapter for this district.

  • Dennis King, PC.
  • Greg Bradley, Green.
  • Leah-Jane Hayward, NDP.
  • Windsor Wight, Liberal.

King (PC) was a journalist before he joined political life where he served as the director of communications for former PC premier Pat Binns. He assumed a similar role with the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. before becoming a published author. Along with his wife, he currently runs the family horse business Storybook Stables.

Bradley (Green) has had a lengthy career in the trades, working as a carpenter for most of his life and site supervisor for many construction companies. He also played a role in the construction of the Confederation Bridge. He is becoming a licensed real estate agent and actively volunteers in sport.

Hayward (NDP) is president and deputy leader of the P.E.I. NDP. She has run without success both provincially and federally as a candidate for the party. She ran a bakery for nearly 30 years with her late husband. She's also worked as a tour guide, and volunteered in sport as well as with St. John Ambulance.

Wight (Liberal) has been the principal of East Wiltshire School for the last 16 years and has had a lengthy career in education — working for 33 years total in the P.E.I. public school system. He's also volunteered with the Duke of Edinburgh program, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Hospice P.E.I. 

District 17: New Haven-Rocky Point (Leader)

The four candidates in District 17 are Don Wills, Independent; Kris Currie, PC; Judy MacNevin, Liberal; Peter Bevan-Baker, Green. (Elections P.E.I.)

This is another district which had an equal share PCs and Liberals over recent decades, except when Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker was elected in 2015.

But a new group of candidates are challenging the incumbent for this seat. 

  • Don Wills, Independent.
  • Kris Currie, PC.
  • Judy MacNevin, Liberal.
  • Peter Bevan-Baker, Green.

Wills (Ind.) repairs appliances and coaches volleyball. He delivers mail for the local post office, hosts events for the Canadian Physique Alliance P.E.I. and has a coffee shop in Bedeque.

Currie (PC) is the superintendent of Countryview Golf Club in Fairview, where he has worked for many years. He has also served on the board of Golf P.E.I., raises money for Heart and Stroke and educates people about lowering their carbon footprint.

MacNevin (Liberal) is a nurse with over 25 years of experience in emergency at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. She now works in ambulatory care and on her family farm. She has volunteered with Special Olympics, Soccer P.E.I. and in minor hockey.

Bevan-Baker (Green) had been a dentist for many years when he entered office in 2015, operating his own practice in central P.E.I. He also helped write the Canada Well-Being Measurement Act and has volunteered with local schools, and sat on boards of various organizations.

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About the Author

Cody MacKay

Web Writer

Cody hails from Summerside, Prince Edward Island, and is a UPEI History and Carleton Masters of Journalism alum. He joined CBC P.E.I. in July, 2017. Reach him at


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