Capital beat column
It is time for the Progressive Conservative party to begin its leadership race.
The original plan had been to hold its leadership vote this fall, giving the new leader approximately a year to complete the job of rebuilding the party in time for the next election. That was when the vote to slated for October of 2015.
P.E.I. is one of several provinces to move its fixed election date to the spring of 2016 to avoid any potential conflict with a federal vote. Now, it seems the Conservatives are considering moving their convention back to next spring to keep that time frame between the convention and the election to about a year.
That has been made easier by the fact there are as yet no undeclared candidates. That does not mean the party has been idle in trying to approach potential candidates. Judging by the two names that have surfaced so far, it appears the party is going after people who not only have no connection to the fiasco that happened in the party over the last two years, they have no public connection to the party.
Doug MacLean, a Summerside native who was a coach and general manager in the National Hockey League before heading to the broadcasting ranks, said publically he was approached and considering the matter. However, he admitted he was at a disadvantage because he spends most of the year living in Toronto and doesn‚Äôt really follow Island politics.
CBC‚Äôs ‚ÄúCompass‚ÄĚ host Bruce Rainnie said he was approached and considered the prospect before taking a pass.
There is no question the party needs somebody who is removed from the political circus that was the party in 2013. Any Islander who has even a passing interest in politics knows all the details of the saga: Olive Crane stepping down as leader, having both Steve Myers and Hal Perry in leadership roles, the defection of Perry to the Liberals, and the banishment of Crane from caucus.
Since then, the party has done a reasonably good job in tackling what has to be job one ‚Äďconvincing the party membership the circus has folded its tent and left town.
Many party members were horrified during the entire saga and I‚Äôm sure many must have felt like wearing a bag over their head. Since then, they have begun the job of holding meetings to develop policy for the next election.
The party faithful has to be convinced Conservatives are on the way back before they have a hope of convincing the electorate at large.
Despite the events of last year, the 2016 election is still winnable for the Conservatives. However they need a permanent leader that is a fresh face and they need to give him or her time to connect with Islanders.
The best-case scenario would be a convention that would feature a race, giving the eventual winner their first political test. The first step should be to call a convention to get the race under way.