Voters in Prince Edward Island elect minority government amid tight race

The final outcome remaines unclear amid a tight electoral race

NDP Leader Joe Byrne, left to right, Progressive Conservative Leader Dennis King, Green Leader Peter Bevan-Baker and Liberal Leader Wade MacLauchlan pose for a photo at the provincial leaders debate at the Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside, P.E.I. on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

Voters in P.E.I. have shed their century-old embrace of the Island’s two-party system by electing a minority government, but the final outcome remained unclear amid a tight electoral race that saw the Tories holding a slim lead over the Greens.

Less than two hours after the polls closed Tuesday, the Tories were leading and elected in 12 ridings, the Greens had pulled into second place with nine and the incumbent Liberals were in third with five.

READ MORE: PEI Green party candidate Josh Underhay and son killed in canoeing accident

The Greens had led in opinion polls since August, which led to speculation they could be poised to upend the two-party tradition and form Canada’s first Green government.

Progressive Conservative Leader Dennis King, a former political staffer and consultant, was elected to lead the party only two months ago. He won the riding of Brackley-Hunter River.

The Tories enjoyed a boost in the polls last month, leaving them in a virtual dead heat with the Greens and Liberals as the campaign ended.

Led by Scottish-born dentist Peter Bevan-Baker, the Greens’ rise in popularity generated a national buzz during an otherwise lacklustre campaign.

During the race, Bevan-Baker tried to persuade Islanders that the Greens care about more than just the environment, offering a platform that focused on a range of social issues.

The Green leader, who was elected to the legislature as the first Green member in 2015, won his riding of New Haven-Rocky Point.

The Liberals, under Premier Wade MacLauchlan, were seeking a fourth term in office, having repeatedly reminded Islanders that the province’s economy remains the strongest in the country.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say P.E.I. is on a tear, posting impressive numbers for higher wages, employment, immigration, housing starts, exports, retail sales and tourism.

However, voters appeared reluctant to give MacLauchlan credit for boosting the economy, a sentiment that was reflected in his relatively low personal popularity ratings.

The Island’s New Democrats, led by 57-year-old Joe Byrne, were not in contention in any ridings.

When the legislature was dissolved, the Liberals held 16 seats in the 27-seat legislature, the Tories had eight and the Green party had two seats. There was one Independent.

A total of 14 seats are needed for a majority, but only 26 of the 27 seats will be contested.

On Saturday, Elections P.E.I. postponed the vote in the district of Charlottetown-Hillsborough Park following the deaths of Green party candidate, Josh Underhay, and his young son in a boating mishap on the Hillsborough River.

A byelection will be held in the riding within the next three months.

Aside from the election outcome, voters will also learn the results of a binding referendum on electoral reform, which will determine if Islanders want to keep the first-past-the-post system or change to a mixed member proportional representation model.

Kevin Bissett and Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Richard Hill’s bird photographs at the Nelson library

‘Big and Small: Birds Found in the West Kootenay’ is on display through June

Energy efficiency session at the Nelson Public Library

Nelson Hydro customers who are seniors are now eligible for free weatherization upgrades

Local Parachutes for the Planet visit B.C. Legislature

Nelson students made parachutes to push for climate change action

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen found in torched SUV

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

Most Read