P.E.I.'s new minority government will proceed 'issue-by-issue,' says premier designate

Dennis King, the Progressive Conservative premier designate of Prince Edward Island, says he is looking forward to working with the other parties in the legislature to make a new government work.

'I don't think we need any formalized agreements'

Dennis King's Progressive Conservatives won 12 of 27 seats in the P.E.I. Legislature Tuesday. (Brian McInnis/CBC)

Dennis King, the Progressive Conservative premier designate of Prince Edward Island, says he is looking forward to working with the other parties in the legislature to make a new government work.

The Tories won the provincial election Tuesday, taking 12 of 27 seats. There is still a byelection to come. The vote in District 9, Charlottetown-Hillsborough, was cancelled when one of the candidates died in an accident.

King said he is ready to collaborate, noting he talked a lot about collaboration during the campaign, but said he wouldn't be seeking a coalition agreement.

"Let's not worry about election or who's got the power or who's got the clout, let's worry about getting things done in the interest of Prince Edward Island. I think if that is our guiding principle I don't think we need any formalized agreements along the way," he said.

"The issues will have to be dealt with on an issue-by-issue basis."

Ideas from all sides

Islanders sent a message in the election that they want parties to work together, King said. That puts all possibilities on the table, he said, including perhaps abandoning some of the things in the PC platform.

"We didn't get a mandate just to go do everything we said we were going to do," King said.

"We have to now be open because that's what Islanders want. They want us to be open to the good ideas. So I think we have to look at the ideas that are the best from the Green platform, from the Liberal platform, and find out what is in the best interests of Islanders."

Getting government together

The work is just beginning on putting together a government, said King, and it is too early to say when there will be a budget or whether there will be a spring session of the legislature.

He said he will be looking for input from other parties in the legislature as he forms his government.

"I want to begin the conversation with the other parties to find out how they see this going forward," he said.

"I want them to know that I'm forming a government but it's a government that has to represent all of Prince Edward Island."

That could be a challenge, because the election saw some strong regional contrasts emerge.

King, left, says he wants to work in a more collaborative fashion with Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, right, who will lead the official Opposition. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

The Progressive Conservatives held their traditional ground in Kings County, and also gained a lot of ground in rural parts of Queens County.

But they have just one urban representative, James Aylward in Stratford-Keppoch, and one west of Summerside, Ernie Hudson in Alberton-Bloomfield.

King downplayed the regional nature of the vote.

"Prince Edward Island is a little too small to focus on what divides us," he said.

Electoral reform discussion to continue

In a referendum held in conjunction with the election Islanders rejected switching to a mixed-member proportional representation system.

During his run for the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives, King said he supported a change to the MMP system, and despite the referendum results, he said he would like to see electoral reform discussions continue.

"The referendum vote was very interesting last night and it shows that people have an interest in furthering the conversation on what we do as a legislature, how we govern ourselves and how we elect ourselves," he said.

King said he would like to see discussions of opportunities for electoral reform continue in the legislature.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning


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