PEI

Robert Ghiz tributes and memories at Liberal party convention

The Prince Edward Island Liberal convention started Friday evening in Charlottetown with a tribute to outgoing Premier Robert Ghiz that had many party members taking a trip down memory lane.

Saturday afternoon, the party will usher in their new leader Wade MacLauchlan

P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz in his annual year-end interview with Compass host Bruce Rainnie. (CBC)

The Prince Edward Island Liberal convention started Friday evening in Charlottetown with a tribute to outgoing Premier Robert Ghiz that had many party members taking a trip down memory lane.

The Ghiz family entered the convention hall to his victory song from the 2011 campaign and a standing ovation from Liberals. 

Before the evening began, Ghiz said he was of two minds about saying goodbye.

"I think mixed emotions but they'd be 90 per cent-10 per cent," he said. " 90 per cent excited to be moving on, 10 per cent thinking maybe it was the right decision...but no I'm happy to be moving on and it's great to say thank you to all the people who have given me the privilege of being premier for the last eight years."

The tributes came in from across the country, all citing his accomplishments over the eight years he's been premier.

One particular touching moment came in a speech by Ghiz's sister.

Jamie MacPhail, the executive director of Liberal Party of P.E.I. says it was planned by the party to show the softer side of Ghiz.

"Family has always been in the forefront and important to him and Joanna," he said. "As his only sibling, I think she will do a great job paying tribute to her brother and kind of showing the family side of him being in public life."

Taking six months off

Many of the guest speakers shared their hope that Ghiz will one day return to politics, perhaps on the federal level, but that is something he's ruled out for the 2015 election. 

He says for now, his only plans are to take some time off.

"That's my plan for the next six months, to enjoy the family a lot and perhaps get a little more chance to play golf in the summer," he said.

Ghiz had a final message to supporters last night in Charlottetown.

"I just want to take this opportunity to thank Islanders for being so kind to myself, to our team, to my family over the last 12 years. It has truly been a privilege," he said.

A party and musical entertainment rounded out the evening.

The convention resumes Saturday afternoon when the Liberal Party will usher in their new leader Wade MacLauchlan. 

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