Shawn Driscoll has made it official, he’s entering the race to be the next leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Prince Edward Island.
“I am a proud Islander with first-hand experience getting things done in politics,” Driscoll said in a statement. “Our Party is currently at a crossroads. We have been stuck in Official Opposition, but we're at risk of dropping even lower. It's time to shake things up.”
Driscoll is the third person to announce for the party’s top job. He joins retired naval officer Allan Dale and former communications director Dennis King.
A fourth candidate, Sarah Stewart-Clark, is scheduled to announce her entry into the race during a news conference this afternoon.
Driscoll shook things up even before officially entering the race. He sent a letter to party president Charles Blue last week raising his concerns with Dennis King’s leadership campaign.
Driscoll said concerns were raised about the impartiality of the process when Adam Ross took a leave of absence from his role as chief of staff in the PC caucus office to join the King campaign.
Driscoll said Ross was instrumental in setting up the rules for the leadership race and determining the timing of the vote. According to Driscoll, Ross was the chief administrator of the party’s NationBuilder software which contains party member information that he said would be, at best, a perceived conflict of interest or, at worst, an attempt to gain an unfair advantage.
To date, Ross has not responded to the concerns raised by Driscoll.
Driscoll said the leadership process could not be tainted by “backroom dealing and actions that smack of an ‘Old Boys Club’ ”.
“When you talk to our grassroots, they’re always being told about the back room,” said Driscoll. “If we’re going to grow our party, we have to address that and by seeing someone who has been involved in the process…. Who is supposed to be impartial and now that person is going to run the candidate’s campaign, you have to ask questions.”
Driscoll worked with former Egmont MP and Fisheries Minister Gail Shea as a policy advisor both in Ottawa and on the Island.
Until recently, Driscoll worked with the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative caucus.
Driscoll said the PC party needs fresh ideas, and a fresh perspective.
“My work in federal and provincial politics has more than prepared me for the challenges facing the party and this province,” he said. “I want to work with Islanders to put forward new ideas anchored in conservative principles and approaches.”
Conservatives will elect a new leader Feb. 9.