From Donald Trump to the Hells Angels: Wade MacLauchlan on 2016

P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan touched on numerous contentious topics during his year-end interview with CBC, including his thoughts on the Hell's Angels, egaming, the Trump administration and electoral reform.

P.E.I. premier sits down for wide-ranging year-end interview with CBC News

P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan sat down with CBC News: Compass for a year-end interview. (CBC)

P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan defended a flash of anger in the Legislature, suggested he'd give into a big Opposition demand surrounding e-gaming, and gave his thoughts on everything from the Hell's Angels to a Donald Trump administration in a wide-ranging year-end interview with CBC.

MacLauchlan and Compass host Bruce Rainnie sat down for a talk that will air in two parts, Thursday and Friday evening.

Here's a topic-by-topic look at some of what MacLauchlan had to say as his third year in office approaches.

On e-gaming

In a report this year about the province's failed bid to become a regulator of online gambling, Auditor General Jane MacAdam wrote: "We noted instances where the email accounts of senior government officials, who were key participants in the e-gaming initiative … were removed after leaving government."

​The province's Opposition repeatedly asked in the Legislature this year whose email accounts were deleted.

Speaking with Rainnie, MacLauchlan said the Opposition will get names if they keep pushing: 2,500 of them.

"What was called 'deleted' were in effect closed accounts, so that's how many there are," he said. "And it may well be that we'll come to the point that we disclose all 2,500 of them."

On sparring with Peter Bevan-Baker

MacLauchlan lost his temper during the fall sitting of the Legislature, pointing toward Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker during a debate about the government's response to the plebiscite on electoral reform.

The premier told Rainnie he was "grossly disappointed" when Bevan-Baker spoke for only several minutes on the electoral reform motion Bevan-Baker himself brought to the house, "something that he's fought for decades to achieve."

P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan pointed at Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker during a debate about electoral reform in the Legislature. (CBC)

MacLauchlan said he was also upset that Bevan-Baker complained that Liberal MLA Jordan Brown "spoke at greater length" on the subject of the motion.

"So to tell you the truth I would say what took place that first night of the legislative session was the crookedest thing that I've seen since I've been in the Legislature and that's why I was pointing my finger," he said. He quickly added that he meant the comment "in good nature." 

On a Trump administration

Asked about U.S. president-elect Donald Trump's victory, MacLauchlan said it was important for Prince Edward Island to cultivate relationships at a province-to-state and person-to-person level.

As an example, he said the annual meeting of six New England governors and five Eastern Canadian premiers will be held in P.E.I. this year, and there will be a business forum and an energy forum happening concurrently.

"It's a great example of how we have to take every opportunity we can to do more business, to promote what we've got, goods and services, and to build relationships," he said. "And if those relationships are good, I'm less worried about what's going on in Washington."

On the Hells Angels

MacLauchlan, who is also the province's Minister of Justice and Public Safety, said he's been receiving briefings on the Hells Angels' recent move to P.E.I.

He said he has confidence in the police but "we have to be on our toes."

The premier said it's important the police have good intelligence, co-operation and the right equipment. "And from there to make sure that people understand that they're not welcome here."

On the Trudeau government

MacLauchlan said he doesn't consider the breakdown of health-care talks earlier this month a failure. "It's active federalism," he said.

He said he continues to be optimistic about the province's relationship with Ottawa. He pointed to expanded eligibility for millions of dollars in federal-provincial infrastructure funding for collector roads, and federal funding for an electric cable project across Northumberland Strait.

On the schools review

MacLauchlan said school closures are a possibility as part of the schools review going on in the province, but that what's important is the way Islanders have been engaged in the process. He promised their submissions will be taken seriously. 

"Through this whole collective engagement and discernment, Islanders in all parts of the province have come to have a stronger view of their communities and of their area of the province," he said.

On the voting plebiscite

MacLauchlan said by including mixed-member proportional (MMP) as one of two choices in a ballot question during the next provincial election, the Liberals are honouring the results of the November plebiscite on provincial electoral reform. (That plebiscite saw 52 per cent of Islanders choose MMP, but the premier has said the low turnout and ranked ballot raised doubts about whether it was the clear will of voters.)

The other choice on the 2019 ballot will be decided through "active discussion among Islanders," the premier said.

He said Islanders will be able "to give a clear response to a clear question."

On immigration

MacLauchlan said he believes the Liberals will meet their goal of raising P.E.I.'s population to 150,000 by the end of 2017.

He said P.E.I. is leading the provinces in terms of immigration per capita when all groups, including refugees, investor immigrants and skilled workers, are taken into account.

"That's a remarkable achievement," he said.

On his government's job so far

MacLauchlan said his government has made big strides on municipal governance, education, policing and climate change.

"When you're in government, to be able to do big things, generational things ... that's why it's exciting to be in government," he said.

With files from Bruce Rainnie