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PC leadership campaign comes to Summerside

Summerside Deputy CAO Gordon MacFarlane chats with PC leadership candidate Dennis King in Summerside Dec. 4.
Summerside Deputy CAO Gordon MacFarlane chats with PC leadership candidate Dennis King in Summerside Dec. 4. - Alison Jenkins

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Dennis King wasn't planning to begin a career in politics when he showed up for work that day as a radio station journalist.

It was an evening session at the legislature and King was interviewing transportation minister Mike Currie.

Currie and King shared a history in Georgetown.

“(Currie) was the closest thing to a local hero we had,” said King. “Before he got into politics, he was a champion rower, a world champion arm-wrestler and a very successful businessperson.”

That night in the legislature, King asked Currie a tough question about an as-yet-unkept campaign promise to close the Cardigan dump.

“How would you answer that question?” was Currie’s response.

“Well, I just ask the questions,” said King.

“What I really need is someone to come work with me who can help me get some of these things done,” said Currie.

King weighed the opportunity to work for Currie against a career in jouralism.

“I accepted his offer.”

Now, with 22 years as a member of the party, 47-year-old King has decided run for the leadership of the P.E.I. Progressive Conservative party.

“I wanted to be a hockey broadcaster,” he said. “At the end of the day I just got tired of being an Islander that says ‘I wish they’d do this, why do they do that.’”

Dec. 3, Dennis King held a gathering at Evermoore Brewing Co. and spoke to the room of about 50 people. He was in Hunter River last week, doing the same thing – introducing himself and letting the public query him on issues.

Kings answers handled a variety of topics from affordable housing, saying it's a "pivotal issue of our time". Business is the natural leader; government’s role is to help.

To green energy, he said, "Instead of just trying to come up with a flat (carbon) tax and make everybody feel good we’re doing something for the environment, why don’t we actually try to do it?”

To taxes, King said the basic rate needs to increase to inflation.

To rural internet, he said it's “as important as asphalt" and that government needs to invest in “real high-speed internet” to keep people living in rural areas.

King called for kindness, saying politics has become “very mean.” He added the Green Party is doing well because they’re kind.

“People are fed up with how things are running and people are losing faith – not just in the current government but in the political system in general.”

While clearly part of a campaign strategy, King was open with his thoughts when he answered questions. He was committing to a code of conduct more than he was making promises.

If there was a political message, it was to root his “Islanders first” slogan in anecdotes of real people who have shaped his values.

“I don’t really care what somebody’s politics used to be or what somebody’s politics is perceived to be. What I care about is we’re Islanders first and the decisions we make as a government should be completed through that lens of people first.”

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