Rob Lantz wins P.E.I. PC leadership

Rob Lantz is the new leader of P.E.I.'s Progressive Conservatives.
Leadership is about listening, weighing the evidence, and making things happen, says Rob Lantz. (CBC)

Rob Lantz is the new leader of P.E.I.'s Progressive Conservatives.

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Lantz was elected at a convention at the UPEI Sports Centre in Charlottetown. The candidates for the leadership were Lantz, James Aylward and Darlene Compton.

With an election not yet called, but expected this spring, Lantz will lead the Tories into a campaign that essentially starts with the victory speech.

The three candidates addressed the more than 700 delegates that gathered at the UPEI Sports Centre in advance of the voting.

Rob Lantz: Moving forward with an eye on the past 

Rob Lantz spoke second at the convention.

Lantz placed a strong emphasis on his P.E.I. roots as he opened his speech, which go back to the mid-19th century, but also stressed the importance of looking ahead.

"It is time, ladies and gentlemen, to move forward while never losing sight of our past," he said.

Lantz talked about his two terms on Charlottetown city council and the leadership lessons he learned there.

"I know how to listen. I know how to weigh the evidence and analyze the facts. I know how to make decisions," he said.

"And, ladies and gentlemen, I know how to make things happen."

Lantz said the current government has allowed a mood of insecurity, fear and resentment to settle in.

"Farmers and fishers worry that their industries, and their futures, are not understood," he said.

"Business people wonder if government will ever stop sending them forms to fill out and new taxes to pay."

Political leadership, he said, is about listening, weighing the evidence, making a decision, and then making things happen.

James Aylward: Trust in experience

James Aylward was the final candidate to speak.

James Aylward stressed his experience as an MLA in his speech to the P.E.I. Progressive Conservative Leadership convention. (CBC)

An election is coming this spring, Aylward told the convention, and the party better be ready.

"In past leadership races – for our party and indeed for any party – there comes a time afterwards when the party needs to heal," he said.

"I think we all know there will not be time for that."

Aylward is the only candidate who has served in the legislature, and he stressed the importance of that experience.

"As … issues and concerns come up on the campaign trail, I won't be asking for one of my lifelines or phoning a friend," he said.

"I will be drawing on hard-won experience."

But he went on to say that experience has taught him he does not have all the answers, and that listening is a key skill for a leader.

"I think the most tragic mistake a leader – and a government – can make is when it thinks it has all the answers and stops listening," said Aylward.

Over the last three months of the campaign, Aylward said he has listened to Islanders who have told him that government needs to move out of the way.

"The more I travel this Island – the more I talk to farmers, fishers, business people in their offices – the more I hear this plea: 'We'll do the job if government just stops throwing obstacles in our path,'" he said.

But Aylward went on to say he does believe in a strong role for government, to look after those who are disadvantaged, to protect the environment and natural resources.

Darlene Compton: Big enough to make it happen

Darlene Compton was the first to speak.

'I can’t wait for the day that Premier Maclaughlan will actually need someone to vote for him.' says Darlene Compton.

Compton referenced the difficulty of travelling over snowy roads during the campaign, and called it an extraordinary journey.

She then went quickly on the attack, noting there had been no leadership race in the Liberal party, with Premier Wade MacLauchlan being the only candidate.

"Mismanagement and arrogance can’t just be papered over by a meaningless leadership convention, and a coronation," said Compton.

"I can’t wait for the day that Premier MacLauchlan will actually need someone to vote for him."

Compton said as Canada's smallest province P.E.I. faces many challenges, but said that smallness also has its own advantage.

"This island is small enough to create its own destiny and big enough to make it happen," she said.

Compton also took a shot at the government of recently resigned Premier Robert Ghiz.

"What [Islanders] want is transparency and fairness in how public resources are used," she said.

"We must ensure that government lives within its means."

Compton called fishing, farming and tourism the economic drivers of the province, but went on to talk about the development of new industries in the future.

"What’s exciting is the enormous potential in the bioscience industries," she said.

"To turn the raw products from our shores, forests and fields into the natural health and food products."

Compton is the only one of the three candidates who has not served as an elected official. She has made two unsuccessful runs at the legislature and lost her last election by just eight votes.