PEI·Analysis

P.E.I. Liberals look to retain party's hold on Summerside

Three candidates are in the running for the Liberal nomination for an upcoming byelection in the district of Summerside-Wilmot.

Three candidates in the running to represent party in byelection

Brian McFeely (left), Chris Palmer and Nancy Beth Guptill are running for the Liberal nomination for the upcoming byelection in Summerside-Wilmot. (Submitted photos)

The Liberal Party will choose who will represent the party in the district of Summerside-Wilmot in a provincial byelection at a meeting on Wednesday night.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan has given no hint when he intends to call a byelection in the district of Summerside-Wilmot.

It must be held within six months of the day the district was vacated by MacLauchlan's former environment minister Janice Sherry, who announced she was stepping down Aug. 1.

That gives the premier until the end of January to hold the byelection, and he could hold off announcing the date until after Christmas. It does have to be held on a Monday, in case anyone wants to start circling potential dates on their calendar.

You would think now would be as good a time as any to pull the trigger.

A Corporate Research Associates poll conducted in August found the MacLauchlan Liberals with the support of 64 per cent of decided voters.

To find a higher number than that, you have to go all the way back to February 2008, to the first year of the first Robert Ghiz administration.

Narrow victory in 2015

But Summerside-Wilmot almost switched to the Tories in 2015, with Sherry winning by only 30 votes over businessman Brian Ramsay. On Monday night, the Tories selected Ramsay to represent the party in the district again this time around.

With the HST going up by a point Oct. 1 and the auditor general's report on e-gaming expected within weeks, MacLauchlan may want to hold off setting a date in order to try to rob the opposition parties of ammunition to use against whomever the Liberals choose to bear their colours.

Nancy Beth Guptill is an entrepreneur and business consultant.

Nancy Beth Guptill

Guptill is an entrepreneur and business consultant whose resumé includes a seven-year stint with Summerside Economic Development. (Just to avoid confusion, she's the daughter of Nancy Evelyn Guptill, former speaker of the P.E.I. Legislature and a Liberal MLA for 13 years.) Guptill's also involved in advocacy with groups like the East Prince Women's Information Centre.

"You can either advocate on the outside or advocate on the inside and have a voice at the table where the decisions get made,"  said Guptill. "If you're sitting at that table when those policy decisions are being discussed, you would have an opportunity to voice concerns and have an influence on the policy and decisions made."

One area in which she says she'd like to influence policy and legislation concerns how the province and provincial school boards deal with the issue of online harassment and abuse.

Brian McFeely

Brian McFeely spent more than 30 years working for the provincial government. He now sits on the Summerside city council.

McFeely is in the midst of his first term as a member of Summerside city council. He spent more than 30 years working for the provincial government, where he eventually became director of sport and recreation for the province. He's now semi-retired and works as a consultant.

McFeely said he's only been made aware recently through personal experience about the challenges in finding appropriate housing and care for seniors in the Summerside area, a challenge he said he'd try to address as an MLA.

"I would be certainly advocating for more affordable housing for seniors, for our quickly-aging population," he said. "I would work to maintain and enhance the frontline services of Prince County Hospital."

Chris Palmer

Chris Palmer is an entrepreneur and property developer.

Palmer is an entrepreneur whose background is primarily within the IT industry. He's also a property developer and owns a pottery manufacturing business.

Palmer said in his 20s he was forced to leave the Island to find work. "And I didn't like it. I whined the whole time I was gone," he said.

"I really want to try to work hard to help provide opportunities so our young folks don't have to move away and our loved ones can move back home. We really need to create those opportunities here."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kerry Campbell

Provincial Affairs Reporter

Kerry Campbell is the provincial affairs reporter for CBC P.E.I., covering politics and the provincial legislature. kerry.campbell@cbc.ca

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