TIGNISH -- “Shock” was the operative word around Tignish Thursday when the news got out that Tignish-Palmer Road MLA Hal Perry had crossed from the opposition Progressive Conservatives to the governing Liberal Party
Perry made the announcement in Charlottetown with Premier Robert Ghiz and other members of the Liberal caucus standing with him.
Peter Handrahan, who was Perry’s campaign manager when he upset Liberal cabinet Minister Neil LeClair in the 2011 provincial election, said he had no advanced knowledge Perry was considering the jump, but he admitted he has had little involvement with the district association since the election.
“He didn’t tell me,” Handrahan said.
And, while Handrahan acknowledges the Provincial Conservatives have some work to do, he predicts change is in the offing. “It’s kind of unfortunate he’s not going to be able to participate in government after the next election, because we will probably have a Conservative MLA in a Conservative government after the next election,” he commented.
Staunch Liberal supporter Audrey Callaghan from the neighbouring District 26, Alberton-Roseville, was giddy over the change of events. “He’s seen the light this morning,” she chuckled. Although surprised he made the shift, she said she was just as surprised that he actually ran for the PCs, pointing out he comes from a strong Liberal party. She said she is looking forward to congratulating him on Thursday’s decision.
Two shoppers at Tignish Co-op both expressed shock that Perry changed parties but felt it was a good move for Tignish and area. “Hal’s always looking out for the community. He must feel it’s a good move,” said one shopper who did not wish to be identified.
“It will be interesting for the next couple of weeks, just to see how all this pans out,” observed Tignish business woman and community councilor, Judy Morrissey-Richard.
“Obviously, when you have the member from your area on the government side of politics, it usually means more for the community. What it will mean with this, it’s hard to say. I don’t know. Like I said, I’m still in shock,” she said.
“Politics are politics,” she said. “When he ran, yes, he was a Liberal all of his life – he’s coming from a strong Liberal family, his father and brothers and everything - but he also said things during the election about the Liberal Party. Now, all of a sudden, does that all just get washed away?”
Tignish Council chairman Allan McInnis welcomed the decision. “I think it’s going to be beneficial to District 27 by having a Liberal MLA up here.
“I think maybe some things we were working hard to develop here and in the surrounding areas may come a little easier.”
McInnis suggested the change is the right move for Perry, too, suggesting dysfunction in the PC party.
He supposed the way the interim leadership of the PC party played out has left Perry wounded
“I think he will work hard as a Liberal. It doesn’t make any difference what Hal does; he’s very vocal and he wants everything for the people of this end of the Island,” McInnis said.