PEI

Multi-party cabinet for P.E.I. government could lead to 'awkwardness'

A multi-party cabinet on P.E.I. could work, but it would be complicated, says a constitutional expert.

'It's certainly not typical of how we tend to organize ourselves'

Premier-designate Dennis King has said he's considering a multi-party cabinet. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

A multi-party cabinet on P.E.I. could work, but it would be complicated, says a constitutional expert.

The Progressive Conservatives on P.E.I. won 12 seats in last week's election, more than any other party, and Leader Dennis King now has the blessing of the Lieutenant-Governor to try to form a government.

But there is only one woman in the PC caucus, and no one from Charlottetown or Summerside. Premier-designate Dennis King has said he's considering a multi-party cabinet to try to broaden representation.

Carleton University political science Prof. Phillipe Lagassé, who researches the Westminster parliamentary system used in Canada, said having different parties together in cabinet has worked in other governments, but not typically in Canada.

It's not a complete constraint.— Phillipe Lagassé

The difficulty, he said, is once you're in cabinet you are part of government decisions, and have to defend them against opposition members of the legislature from your own party.

"Green official Opposition trying to critique their own member over a policy question that actually belongs to the PC government, and so it's just some of the awkwardness around that," said Lagassé.

"It's not a complete constraint — you can find ways around it — and there are ways in which you could make it work, but it's certainly not typical of how we tend to organize ourselves."

There are usually negotiations and agreements on major policy issues in this kind of situation, he said, which can lead to changes in how the official Opposition operates.

King plans to swear in a new cabinet Thursday.

More P.E.I. news

With files from John Robertson

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