CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Allan Dale said he didn’t make a choice to run for the leadership of the Progressive Party of P.E.I.
Instead, it was a calling.
“I feel once again called to service. And, I’m going to serve,” said Dale, who spent 33 years with the Royal Canadian Navy, including as commanding officer of HMCS Queen Charlotte from 2002 to 2006, then again in 2014-15.
Dale announced his leadership candidacy Tuesday at the Culinary Institute of Canada at Holland College. This is the first time Dale has sought political office.
He told the crowd that leadership is about respect, trust and listening to people. But more than that, it is about serving others, or “service before self.”
“It’s never about the leader. It’s never about the person in charge. It’s about the people you represent,” he said.
In September, James Aylward resigned as the Opposition party leader, explaining that he wasn’t able to make a strong connection with Islanders. An opinion poll released earlier this month by MQO Research had the PC Party narrowly trailing both the provincial Green and Liberal parties. With 30 per cent support, the PCs trailed the frontrunning Greens by only two per cent.
“People now look at political service as: ‘Why would you want to be involved in that?’ We need to fix that. We need to get that on track for the people that are coming behind us."
Dale was asked what he would do differently as leader in light of the most recent poll and the idea that the party wasn’t connecting with Islanders.
He returned to the idea of “service before self” and said the party needs to listen to Islanders and build trust between the community and the system of governance. He said that trust has eroded over many decades.
“People now look at political service as: ‘Why would you want to be involved in that?’ We need to fix that. We need to get that on track for the people that are coming behind us,” he said.
“Showing people that government is there for you. We need to build trust in politics again. And, you can only do that by putting service before trust.”
He said the party’s MLAs already understand the role they have with helping Islanders and doing what’s best for P.E.I. But what is needed in a new leader is someone that can build trust with communities.
“Do we make this party another reset party? Do we become more of the same? Do Islanders give us another chance for a few years? Or, do we become something so much more? I think we can give them something so much more. I think we can produce a party here, and then a government, that truly listens, that truly communicates and truly acts for people.”
Dale said his vision for the Island in the next 15 years is to be a global leader in three sectors – the economy, the environment and the community.
In addition to his career with the Royal Canadian Navy, Dale, 52, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of Canada and a graduate of Royal Roads University in Victoria, B.C. with a degree in professional communications.
Originally from St. John’s, N.L., Dale lives in Harrington with his wife Janet and their two children (Olivia and Tom) in the riding of West Royalty-Springvale (District 15).
In order to run for the party’s leadership, Dale is taking a leave of absence from his current position as UPEI’s director of industry partnerships in the School of Sustainable Design Engineering.