Green Party 'has arrived with a very loud noise' on P.E.I.
In 4 years, the party has gone from no seats to official Opposition
P.E.I. Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker is celebrating a big win for the party in the provincial election Tuesday.
"Another party has arrived with a very loud noise here on Prince Edward Island," said Bevan-Baker.
Since 1900 the Island has run a two-party system, and before Bevan-Baker came on the scene there had been only two MLAs who were not Liberal or Tory.
Then in 2015 Bevan-Baker won the first-ever seat for the Greens. He was joined by Hannah Bell in a 2017 byelection. On Tuesday the party won eight seats and became the official Opposition.
"That's an extraordinary accomplishment anywhere but particularly in a place where traditional voting patterns have been entrenched for so long," said Bevan-Baker.
Opinion polls have long placed Bevan-Baker at the top in terms of leader popularity, but he credited the quality of the party's candidates in this election for the party's continued success.
Those same opinion polls put Green support as high as 40 per cent during the campaign, and with that came regular attention from the national media, and even some interest internationally. Bevan-Baker doesn't believe that had any impact on the campaign.
"I was aware, of course, that others beyond our province were watching what was going on," he said.
"It honestly didn't impact the way that I behaved and I didn't see any evidence of that in any of our candidates or the type of campaign we ran."
'No reason why the legislature cannot function'
This legislature is unique, not just in having a Green Opposition, but also in that no party won a clear majority. The election was always considered a close three-way race, and Bevan-Baker said the party has prepared to work in this scenario.
"Islanders have given us a situation where there's no reason why the legislature cannot function well and provide good government," he said.
"I have great faith in my caucus to come to the table to work with whoever else is there."
He also expressed faith in Dennis King, the Progressive Conservative premier designate, whose party took 12 of the legislature's 27 seats. The two have been friends for some time, dating back to when Bevan-Baker was still practising dentistry and King was bringing in his children for checkups.
"I think the good will is there," Bevan-Baker said.
"What we have to do now is, after we catch our breath and a little more sleep than we did last night, sit down together and talk about how we can make this work."
Green growth localized
All eight of the districts the Greens won were either in the Island's two cities or closely connected to them.
Bevan-Baker acknowledges there is still work to do to broaden the party's support, but added that the seats won by the party aren't fully representative.
"I don't think that divide is quite as stark as the seat distribution would suggest," he said.
The party, he noted, placed second in rural districts in all three counties.
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With files from Island Morning