Opposition Leader Olive Crane accused Premier Robert Ghiz Monday of breaking a 2007 election promise, but used the media opportunity to also promote two of her party’s star candidates in the upcoming provincial election.
Crane called a press conference Monday to call Ghiz on a promise made to Islanders during the 2007 election campaign when he pledged to release audited financial statements three months before an election.
Islanders head to the polls on Oct. 3, but the audited public accounts were released just yesterday. Crane says that’s 57 days later than originally promised by the Liberals.
“Treasurer Wes Sheridan revealed these documents would be made available to Islanders merely days before the election rather than the original promise of three months,” Crane said.
“Failure to release the audited financial statements by July 3 is another broken promise by this Ghiz administration.”
But Crane wasn’t alone in her censure of the Ghiz government. Joining her at Monday’s press conference were Progressive Conservative candidates Martie Murphy and James Aylward.
Murphy is challenging Tourism Minister Robert Vessey in the York-Oyster Bed district and Aylward is running against backbench MLA Cynthia Dunsford in Stratford-Kinlock.
Murphy gained much publicity in 2009 when she led the fight against the closure of eight rural schools. Aylward worked for over a decade at the Confederation Centre of the Arts and for the past three years at UPEI. Both are well known and active in their communities and are considered by PC party insiders to be frontrunners in their districts.
They each took a turn at the microphone Monday, firing shots at the Liberal government and accusing Ghiz of breaking other 2007 election promises.
“Their spending has been excessive, their decision-making for four years has been flawed,” Aylward charged.
“Rather than keep a promise and fund diabetic test strips for Islanders, the Ghiz administration dumped over $3 million for mounds of dirt in Borden.”
Murphy said she believes the Ghiz administration has broken trust with the people of Prince Edward Island. She unabashedly promoted voting for the PC party.
“The Ghiz party is over and it is time to blow out the candles,” Murphy said.
“Islanders must elect a new Progressive Conservative government, one that is committed to being open, transparent and accountable and fiscally prudent.”
But although Ghiz may not have kept precisely to his 2007 promise to release audited financial statements three months ahead of the election, he has kept to a law his administration passed during the fall 2008 sitting of the legislature. That law requires government to release the public accounts before Aug. 31 in any election year.
That’s less than the three months promised during the 2007 campaign, but still more than a month before Islanders head to the polls. Sheridan presented the audited accounts Monday during a press conference at Province House.
“Islanders now can be very well assured that the finances of the province are exactly as stated and the auditor has signed off on that,” he said.
Premier Robert Ghiz said it is the earliest audited financial statements have been released in an election year.
“There’s a certain amount of time that the auditors need to get the books done and that’s why it took as long as it did,” he said.
The audited statements show government brought in a $52.5 million deficit for the 2010-2011 fiscal year -$2.4 million less than forecasted.