CHARLOTTETOWN – Newly independent MLA Olive Crane says she hopes to one day be invited back into the Progressive Conservative Opposition caucus.
© Guardian photo
Crane says she misses being part of a team, but says she’s happy to remain independent until after the PC party holds its leadership convention in the fall of 2014.
“I am still looking forward to a real Progressive Conservative being leader and inviting me back to caucus,” she said in an interview with The Guardian.
A little over a week ago, Crane was kicked out of the Tory caucus by Opposition and interim party leader Steven Myers. He was upset after she gave an interview to The Guardian offering reaction to news that former Tory MLA Hal Perry had defected to the Liberal caucus just one day earlier.
Crane blamed the party’s so-called backroom, saying they pressured Myers to force her out.
She now sits as an Independent Progressive Conservative. She was moved down to an office in the basement of the Coles Building. She has a computer and a phone, but no research or communications staff.
She does not belong to a third party and thus is not eligible to receive the $18,800 salary boost given to the leader of a third party in the legislature nor can she access the $35,000 set aside for third party office expenses.
But Crane has not been wholly left to her own devices. A team of volunteers have stepped up to help her with everything from looking up addresses for birthday and condolence cards to setting up a website. She says these individuals have been invaluable to her as she adjusts to life as an independent MLA.
“It’s different and it’s not as easy without as many resources, but I’ll still get the job done,” Crane said.
She said she plans to focus her attention during the upcoming legislature session on issues that affect ‘everyday Islanders,’ especially those who fall through the cracks.
She is still in negotiation with Speaker Carolyn Bertram about how much time she will be given for questions, motions and statements in the house, but says Bertram is being “very fair, so far.”
Crane says it’s lonelier being an independent, but said she will not let her status in the legislature stop her from doing her job as an elected official.
“Although I miss the party and the caucus part, it’s important for me to keep focus that my job on the people who elected me is to do the job of holding government accountable,” she said.