PEI

Peter Bevan-Baker's 'most terrifying' moment of 2017, and other highlights

P.E.I. Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker sat down with the CBC's Steve Bruce to look back on 2017.

'I had no idea what people were going to think'

'Money isn't everything. We have incredibly devoted volunteers,' says Peter Bevan-Baker. (CBC)

P.E.I. Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker sat down with CBC News: Compass on Wednesday to look back on a year that saw his party gain a historic second seat in the legislature. Bevan-Baker spoke with Steve Bruce, who was filling in for Louise Martin.

This is an edited version of that interview.

Was getting kicked out of the legislature a low point or a high point of 2017?

"It was probably the most terrifying part."

"As I stood there, and the speaker had made his ruling that this was unparliamentary, I was fully aware that that was a really perilous moment in my political career. I took a deep breath and weighed up, well, I made that statement and I believe that to be a true statement."

"I had no idea what people were going to think of that. You know, here's the guy that's known as the soft-spoken gentleman of the legislature and he's getting kicked out. What's going on here? I was concerned it was going to be viewed poorly by Islanders but that's clearly not the case. I get swarmed everywhere I go with people thanking me for taking a stand."

What is your assessment of Hannah Bell's byelection victory?

"It was clearly also a measurement of the governing party and all of the rest of us. I think the Green party has moved up in people's estimation and their expectations of us."

"The fact that we can run really competent, credible candidates like Hannah Bell bodes well for us."

Are your expectations for the party different now than what they were a year ago?

"We have, within our party, a strategic plan stretching over the next 10 or 12 years, the next two election cycles, and we've blown by all of the milestones that we had set ourselves within the first two years: in terms of forming a caucus — which we've done, unexpectedly of course, through a byelection — but also in terms of the popular support for the party and for myself as leader."

Hannah Bell enters to applause at her byelection victory party on Nov. 27, with Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker cheering her on. (CBC)

"We thought within a couple of years we might be able to inch up a little bit but we've done very much more than that."

"As things change you do have to recalibrate and you have to look at your goals and expectations. The next election could be as soon as next year and we have to be ready for that, and we will be. It's my guess that we will start nominating candidates in the spring of 2018."

Have your party finances and resources grown at the same pace as the party's popularity?

"Like so many of the other milestones that I was talking about we've blown by that. We've raised an enormous amount of money this year."

"For us to be successful in a general election we have to have the party structure in order to do that. That costs money and it needs volunteers."

"We will not be able to raise near as much money as the big parties. We don't accept corporate or union donations, so that inevitably limits the amount of money that the Green party is able to raise. But money isn't everything. We have incredibly devoted volunteers and an enormous influx of new members in the last 12 months."

"I have every confidence we'll run a very strong campaign."

With files from CBC News: Compass

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