More than 100 attend PC party's monthly meeting
© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Stephen Myers, interim leader of the P.E.I. Progressive Conservatives, speaks to reporters after former Tory MLA Hal Perry defected to the Liberals Thursday.
Progressive Conservatives in P.E.I. got their first chance Monday night to tell their interim leader what they think of his decision to kick former party leader Olive Crane out of the Tory caucus.
Over 100 members attended the party’s monthly council meeting in Pooles Corner Monday – an overwhelming turnout for meetings that usually see about 30 people in attendance.
Some were fuming with anger.
Three members stood, tore up their membership cards and stormed out of the meeting.
“It’s the most disgraceful thing I’ve ever seen in politics, because Olive carried this party for years,” said Fay Wakelin.
“I’ll never vote Conservative again, and I’ve been a Conservative all my life, federally and provincially. That’s it.”
Last Friday, Interim PC Leader Steven Myers called Crane late in the afternoon to inform her she was no longer a member of the Tory Opposition caucus. He was upset after she gave an interview 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 – a group of party insiders who tried to oust her as leader last year. She claims they pushed Perry into his decision to leave the PC party for the Liberals.
She also believes they pressured Myers to kick her out of caucus.
TC Media was not permitted entry to the members-only meeting Monday, but sources in attendance said a few rumblings about the party’s backroom were raised.
Margaret MacKay called for Myers’ resignation over the whole affair.
“They tried to cut me off and claim I was doing a personal attack, well I didn’t attack him, I attacked the behavior,” MacKay said.
A number of other members spoke about their concern over the manner in which the decision was made to remove Crane and the way the party’s internal struggles have played out in the media over the last year.
But most of those who spoke, even those upset over last week’s events, said they hope the party can now finally put an end to the in-fighting and try to unite and rebuild.
“There were some concerns raised, it’s been a tough week for us as a party, it’s a tough week for us as a caucus,” Myers said following the meeting.
“The discussion was good and it didn’t degenerate into something that it shouldn’t have and, all in all, it sounds like the party is ready to move forward and wants to move forward.”
Myers acknowledged he has a tough road ahead in trying to bridge the deep divisions within the party, especially with a number of faithful who could remain loyal to Crane, who plans to sit as an independent PC MLA.
But he hopes planning for a leadership convention will aid in turning the page from the current turmoil. The executive announced during the meeting the PC leadership convention will be held in the fall of 2014.
In the meantime, Myers said although he has fielded numerous calls on his decision to remove Crane – both supportive and critical – he remains convinced he acted appropriately.
“I stand by my decision that it was the right thing to do.”