SUMMERSIDE – The campaign is heating up in the federal Liberal riding of Egmont with possibly five nomination contestants seeking the candidacy.
Those looking to contend are Tina Mundy, Robert Gallant, Gilles Arsenault, Robert Morrissey and Don Reid.
Hernewood Intermediate School in Woodstock has been the traditional home for the Egmont Liberal nomination convention but the school was hard-pressed to accommodate the delegates at the last Liberal convention that saw just three candidates vying for the nomination.
With four candidates assured and a fifth possible, would the party be looking for an alternative site, such as Credit Union Place, that could accommodate a large number of delegates?
Greg Guptill, vice-president of the Egmont Liberal Riding Association, acknowledged there were a large number of people at Hernewood the last time but added the Hernewood site remains the party’s choice.
“For a number of reasons, Hernewood is our preferred location,” he said. “We’ve always had this type of convention more or less in the middle of the riding, meaning geographically. If we were to locate it anywhere other than the middle we would have massive pushback – not just from whichever candidate, but from our membership. We have every intention of staying at Hernewood because it’s as close as you can get to the middle of the riding and stand any chance of putting it in the building.”
Although four of the five contestants are from East Prince, Guptill said that fact does not play into the choice of the site.
“We’re not interested in the candidates,” he said. “We’re interested in the membership.
The membership will be more comfortable with the less distance they have to travel. Our concern is to make it as convenient as possible.”
With more contestants come more delegates, but Guptill said plans are in place to accommodate everyone at Hernewood and no delegates will be turned away.
“There won’t be any exclusions,” he said. “We have every intention of accommodating every member. We do have some plans afoot, which I cannot yet reveal. We do have a plan that is in the process of being considered to alleviate the pressure so that we will be able to do it there. We submitted recommendations for this plan a couple of weeks ago.”
Guptill said there is a second contingency plan in place as well should Hernewood not be accepted as the site.
“It is being considered,” he said. “I’ve already had the conversations with Credit Union Place that need to be had.”
While there are five names in the offing, only two are “official” nominees.
“Officially we have two,” Guptill said. “Now when I say officially, I mean they have gone 100 per cent through what we in the Liberals call ‘the green light.’ We have two green-lit candidates that would be Gallant and Mundy.”
He said Arsenault and Morrissey have their paperwork in process and he did not know if Reid has filed his papers yet.
“If he has submitted his paperwork, it’s only been done in the last few days but he has appeared in public indicating that he’s intending to go,” Guptill said.
To be green-lit to run for the party is a very detailed exercise.
“It means that they have submitted answers to exceptionally detailed questions that digs into their life very deeply over the long term. Along with it they have to submit a criminal record check and a credit report,” he said. “It’s deep. They're looking for skeletons. They don’t want any surprises coming out.”
The paperwork is sent to (federal) Liberal headquarters and comes back to a committee on Prince Edward Island that looks it over to make sure everything seems on the up and up.
“Once that committee has reviewed the intricate detail, they put their stamp of approval on it and they ship it back up to Ottawa at which time the national campaign election readiness committee and the leader go through the detail,” Guptill said. “If everything’s in order, they sign off. At that point they’re green-lit.”
Guptill said there are two specific deadlines Egmont Liberals need to keep in mind.
He said the first is for anyone seeking the candidacy for Egmont, papers need to be filed by Oct. 23.
The second surrounds membership in the party.
He said anyone becoming a member or renewing a membership must do so by Nov. 6.