P.E.I. PCs shuffle team before legislature opens
Matthew MacKay is new Opposition house leader, Ernie Hudson new chief of staff
A "reinvigoration" of P.E.I.'s Progressive Conservative team will see a new Opposition house leader and new chief of staff — part of the party's plan to "build toward defeating the Liberals in the next provincial election," says interim leader Jamie Fox.
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Last May, the PCs were defeated by the Liberals in an 18-8-1 vote. Green Party leader Peter Bevan-Baker won his seat.
"Back when I took on this role back in October of 2015, I said I was going to review stuff after six months, and I was going to make changes for the better of Islanders" Fox told CBC News: Compass host Bruce Rainnie Wednesday.
MLA Matthew MacKay will be Opposition house leader, replacing James Aylward. Sidney MacEwen replaces Colin LaVie as Opposition whip and Brad Trivers will be budget officer, a new position.
Fox made the changes, he said, "so they can gain expertise and continue to move the party forward into the future," adding that all three bring experience as small business leaders.
Finance critic Darlene Compton will take on additional duties as Family and Human Services critic.
"Having managed a seniors home, Darlene's perspective on providing the best care for our seniors will be extremely valuable," Fox said.
The PCs have replaced chief of staff Jeff Himelman with Ernie Hudson, who worked for many years as constituency office manager former Egmont MP and fisheries minister Gail Shea.
Himelman will be in charge of the PC's communications.
Back to work
When the legislature opens next Tuesday, the PCs will focus on the economy and jobs, Fox said, adding the Opposition remains very concerned about the province's involvement in a controversial e-gaming plan, and is eagerly awaiting the Auditor General's report
"We're not going to give up on that," Fox said. "My patience is getting very thin on this file. I think government should be coming clean immediately and telling us what was their exact role?"
Work is underway to prepare the PCs for the next election with a focus on policy, membership, fundraising, election readiness, and leadership selection, Fox said.
Fox said within 60 to 90 days, the PCs will release a schedule revealing when they plan to hold a leadership convention.
Fox insists he is not interested in the post.
"I have no desire to run for the permanent leadership of the party. My focus is on government, continuing to build the party and going after government."
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With files from Bruce Rainnie