Ex-Tory leader hired by Liberals
Olive Crane appointed to work for MacLauchlan government
Former leader of P.E.I.’s Progressive Conservative party, Olive Crane, who publicly supported Liberal Premier Wade MacLauchlan in the recent election campaign, has been handed a government job.
Crane was hired on July 13 for a one-year contract as a labour market specialist in the Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning, reporting to the executive director of labour market information.
Department Minister Richard Brown says the decision to hire her was made by Sandy MacDonald, who was deputy minister of the department until his departure was announced last week, just two days after Crane was hired, on July 15. The salary range for her position is approximately $68,000 to $85,000.
The position was not advertised, but Brown denies this was a patronage appointment or that the job was given to her in exchange for work she did campaigning for MacLauchlan during the recent election.
“The premier and I haven’t discussed this appointment, I can assure you of that, but the premier’s office was informed of the appointment,” Brown said.
He explained his department has been tasked to come up with a number of strategies, including a population strategy, an Island ambassadors program and to assist with a poverty reduction strategy.
“The department felt we didn’t have enough labour information out there, especially in rural P.E.I., so they contracted Olive (Crane) to go out and to review the labour market situations in rural P.E.I. and to meet with both companies and with individuals to see how we can better match up companies with unemployed people in rural P.E.I.”
Crane parted ways with the Progressive Conservative party in January when she announced she would not reoffer in the May provincial election, using the opportunity to instead publicly endorse Liberal leader Wade MacLauchlan for premier.
This came after years of conflict with the party she once led, including being kicked out of the PC caucus after she resigned as leader. Crane actively campaigned against the PC party during the recent election, attending a number of Liberal rallies, and even reportedly worked behind the scenes for the Liberal candidate in Morell-Mermaid, which she formerly represented as a Conservative and later as an independent MLA. Brown says he understands there may be a perception she has been given a soft landing as a reward for her support for her former political rivals in a close election campaign.
“A lot of people are going to say that, but when you look at her resume and you look at her ability to talk to people, people are comfortable and relaxed with Olive,” Brown said.
“We’re going to get a lot more responses and openness, I think, with Olive going out into rural P.E.I. and talking to rural Islanders and unemployed Islanders to see what are their needs and what are their barriers to enter the workforce. We need good information and I think she has a solid resume in this area.”
Crane was approached for comment but did not respond by press time. The PC party declined to comment.
Olive Crane is shown in this file photo.